Runaway Carriage Horse on Streets of St. Louis: ALDF Files Restraining Order Against Reckless Industry

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on May 1, 2015


ALDF has filed a request for a temporary restraining order against the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission after yet another horse ran wild through city streets, barely averting disaster. Downtown St. Louis was met with chaos last weekend after a runaway horse named Bud charged through city streets without his driver. Bud, who is forced to pull a carriage for the St. Louis Carriage Company, was surely terrified as he desperately galloped across the city, after his driver let go of his reigns. A collision would have meant disaster for automobiles and likely loss of life for Bud or members of the public.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting hard to protect the city’s carriage horses from this cruel and dangerous industry. Together with local pro bono legal counsel and the St. Louis Animal Rights Team (START), ALDF has asked the court repeatedly to force the commission to protect horses from an industry with no oversight or concern for animal and human safety. Just last week, on April 22, ALDF had filed an amended petition to the court asking for enforcement of safety guidelines. Two days later, Bud broke free from his restraints and barreled through town, as captured in the video above.

These dangerous incidents are common to companies like the St. Louis Carriage Company. In statements released by local media reports, a spokesperson for the St. Louis Carriage Company claimed Bud, a one-ton horse fleeing at full gallop, was just a rare incident of a driver abandoning his horse. But just a few years ago, a driver for the same company was knocked off his carriage by a human assailant. That horse, Harry, also made a terrified bolt down the city’s urban landscape. And a witness to last weekend’s scare claims to have seen driverless horse carriages running through the city multiple times just this year.

Horses are easily frightened and confused by traffic and sudden noises. Many accidents result from horses spooking—and these accidents have caused serious (and sometimes fatal) injuries to horses, as well as public harm and destruction to property. Last December, ALDF filed a petition on behalf of START against the commission for failing to enforce regulations (section 608 of the Vehicle for Hire Code) against the carriage industry. Public records show the commission stopped enforcing regulations (including provisions for animal welfare) in 2013. ALDF urged the commission in July 2014 to get back on the horse—so to speak—and enforce these regulations. Earlier this spring, the St. Louis University SALDF chapter (Student Animal Legal Defense Fund) also filed a request for rulemaking with the commission, asking them to strengthen enforcement of the code. After the commission failed to take action, ALDF requested declaratory judgment from the St. Louis City Circuit Court and that case is ongoing.

Carriage horses aren’t just suffering in traffic accidents, but also endure terrible neglect and overwork. They are often forced to work all day, seven days a week, rain or shine, on hot asphalt, to the point of exhaustion and under chaotic conditions. Vets sent to Brookdale Farms, where horses exploited for their labor are confined, reported that the horses were malnourished. In 2013, a horse from Brookdale Farms died during carriage rides, right after the commission stopped enforcing regulations. The next year, in 2014, an exhausted carriage horse collapsed during a parade in front of the city’s health director. The commission’s failure to enforce the Vehicle for Hire Code is putting the well-being of the public and the welfare of these horses at grave risk for fatality. The next time a horse breaks free, the result could be far worse. Disaster is just waiting to happen.


8 thoughts on “Runaway Carriage Horse on Streets of St. Louis: ALDF Files Restraining Order Against Reckless Industry

  1. Patricia Masters says:

    The busy streets are no place for sensitive horses to be just for the benefit of idiot tourists. Ban this practise please.

  2. Giuliana Rinaldo says:

    There is nothing romantic about horse carriage rides. In fact, it’s a sad sight to see the miserable, lonely & hopeless look with no relief insight on these horses faces as they are forced to work tirelessly in every type of weather imaginable and whether they feel sick or not.

    Can you imagine working 12 – 14 hour days like that, in addition to having minimal to no veterinary care, as well as, general needs not being met daily. These horse are raped of everything in life with nothing to look forward to and not given any occasional enrichment or companionship at all.

    There should be a national legal ban on horse carriages and replace them with electrical carriages if needed. Stop exploiting and abusing horses!!!

  3. Bunni says:

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves…if it is so important that you torture and place a low value on the life of the animals you use, then hire your friends! These animals are not here to line your pockets but to live as freely as you THINK you deserve!

  4. Horses don’t belong on the streets. It is very stressful and very unnecessary.

  5. mary knapp says:

    Why are you willing to risk the safety of people, animals and vehicles? Still in contemporary cities, amidst buses, cars, taxis, emergency vehicles, motorcycles, and trams, they often serve as anachronistic entertainment for a few privileged tourists, denied their natural instincts just so these tourists may take a 30-minute ride.Many horses used to pull these carriages are not even workhorses, but smaller breeds, often broken-down horses from the racetrack who must work far more than their physical capacity can safely allow. When they can no longer make the grade working on the street, they are often sent to auction on their way to slaughter. We need to move into and embrace the 21st century and leave the 19th century horse-drawn carriages behind. Horses are easily frightened and confused by traffic and sudden noises. Many accidents result from horses spooking—and these accidents have caused serious (and sometimes fatal) injuries to horses, as well as public harm and destruction to property. I hope the city shuts you down forever never to do this again to these horses. All of them need to be put out to pasture for the remaining years they have left AND NOT SENT TO SLAUGHTER. This form of “entertainment” is exploitative and is comparable to animal circuses and roadside zoos.

  6. Debi says:

    Please ban carriage rides now and forever.
    This is a cruel act what these horses go through.
    I witnessed in St. Charles county a horse working
    In 98 degree weather. It is ridiculous that we still
    have this practice, our world has changed into
    a busy scary place for these animals with lots of noise also. We as a society need to change and stop the carriage rides.

  7. Allison Burgess says:

    Horses and carriages on busy city streets are UNSAFE. If there is a tragedy, it will be the City’s fault for not banning this activity.
    Also, carriage rides belong on farms, not pavement, and where there are no other vehicles endagering all involved.

  8. Erin says:

    Horses are flight animals. The last place they should be is in a large, noisy, scary and polluted city. Their only survival mechanism is to run and they are forced to sit there day after day and take in the loud noises of the city. It’s not a good life for a horse. It’s dangerous for the horses and for people. There needs to be a ban on horse carriages in major cities. It’s a quaint idea, but it’s outdated and inhumane for the horses.

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