Three months after the Chicago City Council voted to end the horse-drawn carriage industry on its streets, one owner is ready to fight city hall.
Jim Rogers, owner of Great Lakes Horse and Carriage, has set up a Go Fund Me page in hopes of raising money to mount a legal challenge against the city ordinance, he told WBBM Newsradio in Chicago, Ill.
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” he says. “I’ve never done anything to harm an animal while it was working in my entire life. And for [animal rights activists] to slant myself and my colleagues in ownership like we’re a bunch of mustache-twirling, money-counting sons of [expletive] that exploit animals is wrong.”
The city council voted 46-4 on April 24, 2020, to decline new and renewal operating licenses of horse-drawn carriage, effectively banning the industry. The move will remove the carriages from Chicago streets by Jan. 1, 2021.
Alderman Brendan Reilly told the Chicago Sun-Times that the ban was the result of concerns that some had with how the animals were treated, while others were concerned about traffic-related problems and safety issues.
“For me, it’s a combination of both,” he says. “I grew up surrounded by farms and horses. They’re bred to work. But they were not bred to be sucking gas fumes from the back of CTA buses and co-mingling with cement mixers. That’s not humane treatment of animals.”
The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) took issue with claims that the horses are mistreated.
“These animals are very well taken care of,” ISVMA President Olivia Rudolphi says, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Them pulling the carriage is like you pulling a wagon for your kid.”
Alderman Brian Hopkins told the Sun-Times that although Chicago had not serious collisions involving the carriages, he believed it was just a matter of time.
““When you take a large, slow-moving object and put it downtown on Michigan Avenue, Chicago Avenue or inner Lake Shore Drive during peak traffic periods, you’re clearly taking a risk,” he says.
However, city rules and regulations prohibits the carriages from being driven on any city street during peak traffic periods.
“We have more regulation than any other state and city,” Tony Troyer of the Horseman’s Council of Illinois told the Sun-Times. “Yet, you would like to see a ban. … It’s pretty bad when we have more regulations on the horse-and-carriage business than the pedicabs. How many hours can one person be out there riding around on the bike?”