City council divided on proposed changes for carriage horse temperature laws

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Changes are one step closer for carriage horse regulations.

Tuesday night Charleston City Council passed the first reading of a new ordinance that would lower the temperature when horses have to come off the street. Three council members voted against the ordinance.

It's a topic that has the community divided.

Some tourists like John McCallum look forward to carriage rides. He's visiting from Michigan.

"We would like to take a carriage ride, to see all the sights," McCallum said.

Tonight the city council had it on its agenda for a different reason. Charleston is considering lowering the temperature horses have to come off the streets from 98 to 95 degrees. The new ordinance would also lower the heat index from 125 to110 degrees.

Councilman Gary White says the law has remained the same for nearly a decade.

"I'm not saying that it's perfect, but after nine years on council, I think any progress that we can make is better than no progress at all," White said.

The owner of Palmetto Carriage Works Tom Doyle says the changes aren't necessary because there has never been a heat-related carriage horse death, according to the city.

"I think the system that we have now works very well and the fact that they voted to lower it three degrees is disappointing," Doyle said.

Councilman Bill Moody agrees. He says the carriage companies are committed to caring for its animals. There are five carriage businesses in Charleston.

"I think this an assault on five small businesses in our community." Moody said. "If you don't like the horses on the street you vote making it harder and harder and harder for them."

On the other hand, the Director of The Charleston Animal Society Joe Elmore believes there should be a more comprehensive study to determine new carriage horse laws and he thinks the carriage load should be considered.

"It's not what a horse can do when pushed to its limits it's what a horse should do," Elmore said.

The proposed ordinance would also change the temperature readings from two to four consecutive readings every 15 minutes for more accurate readings.

The recommended temperature changes that the city is proposing came from a study of past weather temperatures and horse temperatures.

The city found that horses' temperatures began to rise when the heat index reached 110 degrees and the temperature reached 95 degrees.

This ordinance will go back to council for two more readings.

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