Advocating for animals is hard work. Being the voice for the voiceless will sometimes make you a target of the slings and arrows of those who think it best to leave “well enough” alone. But thanks to your continued support, we are energized every day to do the right thing.
You’ve seen Charleston Animal Society in the news lately involving the carriage horse issue downtown and we want to be sure you understand our position clearly.
What We are Asking For:
• We believe the public deserves an independent, scientific, peer-reviewed, prospective study of the horses and mules that live and work in Charleston.
• A major university that has equine expertise and does not have ties to the carriage industry would conduct this study. (The study would then be reviewed by other academic experts to review the research methods and conclusions.) Here are details on the study.
• The independent study would provide unbiased and objective answers to questions that we receive year-round from residents, tourists and experienced horse owners, who worry about these animals.
• The point of the study is to clarify with independent research, what is the most humane working environment for horses and mules in Charleston.
• The research would address questions involving heat, load, congestion and other stressors, including how they relate to each other.
• Charleston Animal Society is not opposed to working animals and has not called for a ban of the carriage industry.
• The carriage industry has been the focus of controversy for decades.
• In 2006, we participated on a committee that helped draft the current city ordinance regarding the humane treatment of horses.
• Two years ago, we made a review of the industry and found that many parts of the city ordinance were not being followed. One example is that horse carriages are to be weighed before each trip (to make sure a horse is not pulling too much) and this is not being done.
• We were also concerned because the thermometer that takes the official temperature that decides when horses come off the street is four stories in the air (on top of the Doubletree Hotel). We believe it should be at ground-level, where the horses work.
• Cities across America require only one max heat reading to pull horses off the street, yet Charleston requires four max heat readings spaced 15 minutes apart to pull equines. We believe one reading is sufficient.
• For these reasons and more, we believe the current system allowing carriage tours is not humane and we called for an independent study to get answers on what would make the system safe and humane.
• This weekend, the carriage industry said while they now back the idea of the study, they will not allow their animals to participate. But clearly, a study cannot be completed without studying the horses and mules that live and work here.
• Before last week’s incident involving the collapsed horse “Big John,” Charleston Animal Society had reached out to industry leaders to meet about the study, but was turned down. We still remain hopeful that a meaningful dialogue can begin on making the study happen.
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed on this important issue. The bottom line is these working animals deserve our attention to ensure they work in a safe and humane environment. When you are sharing your opinion of the carriage industry, please do so with respect for all individuals, regardless of their position on the issue. For more information, please visit www.CharlestonAnimalSociety.org/humane-carriage-tours