Charleston Animal Society presents proposal on carriage horses

Updated: Apr. 26, 2017 at 10:34 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The great debate on carriage horses will continue.

The Charleston Animal Society made a presentation at the City of Charleston's Department of Livability & Tourism meeting on Wednesday.

On paper, it appears no progress was made. All sides, however, seem to agree this meeting was not pointless. The animal society, carriage industry workers, and commissioners were able to voice their concerns on the hot topic.

Charleston Animal Society presented their proposal on the need for an independent peer review on carriage horses. The commission concluded the proposed research is not specific enough, although they're still open to the concept.

"We've gone into detail about what the scientific study is," Kurt Taylor said. Taylor is the director of government relations at the Charleston Animal Society.

"We're not opposed to this idea," City of Charleston's Department of Livability & Tourism director Dan Riccio said. "Whatever information could be brought from it would be beneficial to us all."

The carriage industry is not required to participate in the study.

"It would take a voluntary effort from the carriage industry to submit their horses for this study. What I heard in the meeting is that that'll probably never happen," Riccio explained.

"It's not going to happen. No individual, no group has the rights to impose scientific research testing on themselves or their animals," Dr. Justin Miller said. Miller is a veterinarian with the Charleston Equine Clinic.

Horses that are accustomed to downtown Charleston are essential for accuracy in the proposed study.

"The animals need to be studied that are in the environment, acclimated to this environment, know the routes, can handle the traffic and noise for the most part," Taylor said.

The rift between the carriage industry and anti-carriage groups has a lot to do with the internet.

"It's very heated in the industry because of the campaigns that are basically happening behind the scenes with the anti-rhetoric," Riccio said.

"Social media today is much too easy of a platform to throw something out that you wouldn't normally say face-to-face with somebody. And a lot of that has happened," Taylor added.

"The Charleston Animal Society has maintained a false and malicious campaign both against my business and me personally," Charleston Carriage Works owner Broderick Christoff said. After a video of one of his horses went viral, he turned in documents to the commissioners detailing the slew of threats made to him, his business and his family online.

The next step is to hold a private meeting with the Charleston Animal Society, carriage industry workers and the commissioenrs to try and find a common ground.

"What we need to do is simply get together and iron this out," Taylor said.

"Right now we just have to wait and see what happens," Riccio added.

A tentative date for the meeting has not been set.