City of Charleston to review carriage horse tour temperature laws

City of Charleston to review carriage horse tour temperature laws

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The City of Charleston is forming a committee to review the heat laws governing when carriage horses and mules can provide carriage rides.

They are expected to meet the third week in August to discuss lowering the approved temperature.

Thousands of people a year go on carriage ride tours around Charleston. On the other hand, there's some people who want to see changes in the business.

Dan Riccio is the Director of Department of Livability and Tourism for the City of Charleston. He says every summer he receives complaints.  There have been about 50 in the last two months, which is normal for the summer.

"The common complaints, it's too hot, it's inhumane for the animal to be out there, why is the temperature set so high," Riccio said.

As the ordinance currently stands in Charleston, horses and mules cannot provide rides if the temperature reaches 98 degrees or when the heat index reaches 125 degrees. It's the highest approved temperature in the country for carriage horses.

Mary Allis Edwards is the daily operation manager at Palmetto Carriage Works.

"We have extensive records that show we've done everything right, the city checks us to make sure that we do everything right and the proof is here the animals are very well taken care of," Edwards said.

The Charleston Animal Society has been outspoken stating that they believe the cut off temperature is too hot and they question the loads they carry.

"We've never had a heat related incident or a weight related incident," Edwards said.

According to city officials that's the case for others too.

"To my knowledge we have never had any incidents reported to the City of Charleston regarding any illness or injury to a carriage animal as a result of heat," Riccio said.

The committee is being formed to take preventive measures. It's been years since the current laws were set.

"It gets hotter each summer, at this point it's a real good idea to review where we're at, use experts," Riccio said.

The committee will include people in the carriage industry, the neighborhoods impacted by the industry, licensed veterinarians, the Charleston Animal Society, city staff and a local meteorologist.

Edwards say they take the animals' temperatures before and after every tour and cool them down with fans in a shaded area as they spray and brush them down. Palmetto Carriage Works has years of temperature records for their animals.

"To be targeted as an animal abuser, it's tough, it's just not true," she said.

Edwards says they welcome anyone from the community to come and check out where they do business.

"Everything is preventive and hopefully we do our best to make sure that the animals in the carriage industry are taken care of," Riccio said.

The committee set to meet later in the month will focus on temperature regulations. At a later time the city will address the weight the animals carry.

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