Salt Lake City considering changes to carriage policies after horse's death

Aug 28, 2013

Jerry the horse collapse in Salt Lake City
Credit Jeremy Beckham/PETA

In an update to a story we had last week—Jerry, the horse who collapsed wile pulling a carriage in downtown Salt Lake City has died and changes may soon be made to the city’s carriage policies.

Jerry’s owners, Blane and Annette Overson from Carriage for Hire, initially said that Jerry was at home recovering from colic—a gastrointestinal problem that can be fatal. However, after questions were raised regarding the authenticity of a photo released by the company allegedly showing the horse recovering, the owners now admit that Jerry died on Friday, nearly a week after the incident.

PETA's Jeremy Beckham, said the case highlights why horses should not be used in urban environments. He is calling for a new investigation into the circumstances of Jerry’s death, including the release of his medical records and a necropsy.

"I do think that a new investigation is warranted. I don't think Salt Lake County animal services, frankly, did a good enough job investigating the first time around. They didn't even bother seeing Jerry after he collapsed and I think they should have done a welfare check and checked him out for themselves," Beckham said. "But I do know that the city government here in Salt Lake City is taking this issue very seriously."

Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke said the city is now talking with the owners, witnesses, horse experts and vets to determine what happened to Jerry and to better understand what the city should next regarding policy.

Luke said the investigation has been made difficult by the secrecy of the horse’s owners, but the Council has taken up the issue and is now looking at ways to protect the city’s remaining horses.

"I've requested that Salt Lake City Council staff begin looking at a number of best practices from around the country regarding horse carriage policy in other places and looking at our ordinances and figuring out what exactly makes the most sense here," Luke said.

A ban on all horse drawn carriages is a possibility during the investigation, Luke said, and long term changes are likely to focus on Utah’s variable weather.

"We'll be looking at the temperature restrictions, we'll be looking at whatever other municipalities do in terms of regulated locations for carriages to a full ban. I think right now we're trying to keep all options on the table."