Protesters gather to show opposition to horse carriage tours

VIDEO: Protesters begin march around downtown Market
Published: Jul. 21, 2015 at 9:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2015 at 10:04 PM EDT
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Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Protesters gathered in downtown Charleston Tuesday showing their opposition towards the horse carriage tours in the city.

Old South Carriage Company and Classic Carriage Works were the two among the five franchised companies to pull their horses off the streets Monday because of the hot weather.

For five hours, the group walked the market area shouting, "There's no excuse for animal abuse."

The group organizer, Zoe Bergmann, said the group came together following the horse incident last week.

Charleston Police say a horse was spooked by a passing cement truck and fell down, causing traffic to be diverted for several hours.

The group says these growing issues downtown need to be addressed and that these tours should be banned.

"We believe that the conditions the horses face when they're out doing tours, and when they're in the barns... they could be better," Bergmann said.

"It always seems when it's hot out, people are gonna worry about the horses," Shawn Matticks, Manager of Old South Carriage Company, said. "Well guess what, we worry even more about the horses."

For decades the city has had strict regulations when it comes to these carriage rides.

Among them include weather rules, where at 98 degrees all companies must take their horses off the streets.

"We take their temperature after every tour," Tom Doyle, President of Palmetto Carriage Works, said. "By doing that, we can tell if an animal overheats when it's 58 or it's 98 degrees."

Some members of the group feel there are other factors to consider as well.

"The city streets in Charleston are an inappropriate environment for horses in the 21st century," Amy Brunson, a protester, said.

"You see horses nose to tailpipe down Market Street, you know?" Bergmann said.

"They go through a long and arduous training process before they ever even make it into the city," Doyle said.

The group wants to see the carriage tours taken off the streets, and perhaps other avenues looked at.

"There's all sorts of alternatives," Brunson said. "Some have brought in some vintage cars for tourists to take tours. You know, something different, that's still a little bit historic, but without the use of animals."

Some people consider it animal cruelty to have them out in the various conditions.

"They could treat them like royalty," Bergmann said. "They could treat them as the most spoiled brats, but we're here because it's exploitation. This exploitation is profiting from the slavery of animals, and the labor of animals."

"I just think that they're uneducated," Emily Constantine, barn Manager of Old South Carriage Company, said. "They don't know how much we care for these animals."

Meanwhile the Charleston Animal Society has formally asked Mayor Riley to start an independent review of what happened on July 17 with the horse named Blondie.

A statement reads, "Charleston Animal Society is not opposed to the use of horses and other equines in pulling carts and carriages for hire, provided that all of the animal's physiological and behavioral needs are fully met, housing and stable conditions are humane and their working hours and conditions are carefully regulated and independently monitored as to temperature, humidity, proximity to traffic, rest periods, etc."

At this time the group that was protesting Tuesday has no set plans for the next steps they will take.

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