Animal Legal Defense Fund Demands Regulation of St. Louis Horse-Drawn Carriage IndustryPosted on July 29, 2014
ALDF Urges Metro Taxi Commission to Enforce Laws Protecting Carriage Horses
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
ST. LOUIS — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has sent a formal letter to the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC), demanding the agency enforce county animal welfare laws regarding the city’s horse-drawn carriage industry. Last fall, MTC ceased regulation of the industry without public debate, notice, or justification. ALDF is asking MTC to immediately resume enforcement of section 608 of the Vehicle for Hire Code and related Director’s Rules. In addition, ALDF is asking MTC to fully investigate Brookdale Farms, a carriage horse operator notorious for flagrant violations of the law.
Carriage horses are often startled at the slightest provocation, leading some to spook and bolt along busy streets, causing injury or death to themselves or nearby humans. Weighing between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds, these animals labor seven days a week, even in inclement weather. MTC’s decision to stop regulating the industry in St. Louis has resulted in threats to public safety and no oversight of the well-being of carriage horses. Just last month a horse collapsed during a parade in front of the St. Louis City Health Director, drawing a media sensation; other high-profile instances of ongoing neglect of horses are rife within the industry. For example, veterinarians sent by MTC in 2010 reported all horses at Eureka-based Brookdale Farms were deprived of adequate food and half the horses—including Elmo, Rocket, Ben, Wilbur, Hercules, and Lightning—were malnourished. Some of these horses showed no signs of improvement months later, indicating a lack of regulatory enforcement by MTC. In December 2013, King, a Brookdale Farms’ horse, died during carriage rides at Tilles Park weeks after MTC stopped enforcing the law.
“Many people take horse-drawn carriages for granted without stopping to think about how the animals suffer or the dangers of forcing these animals into unnatural environments,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Metro Taxicab Commission is well aware of these inhumane and unsafe conditions, but refuses to enforce the law.”
Anyone with information regarding the health and welfare of carriage horses in St. Louis should contact local attorney Dan Kolde at DKolde@cch-law.com or (314) 872-8420.
Copies of the letter are available upon request.