Charleston Animal Society’s request for a comprehensive, peer-reviewed study of the Charleston carriage industry using a science-based approach -- was shot down by the committee tasked with making the industry more humane. “I can tell you right now we would never allow our animals to be part of a study with an animal rights group,” said Broderick Christoff who represents the carriage industry on the Carriage Animal Temperature and Heat Index Committee.
“Hearing this should set off alarm bells for anyone who truly cares about the welfare of horses,” said Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore. “It raises the question, what are these carriage companies hiding and why are they afraid of an independent study?” One reason could be that these researchers would not rely on the data that is provided by horse carriage companies to the city; information such as a horse’s internal temperature after tours. Researchers would collect their own data and then make decisions based on scientific standards used at universities and research facilities around the world.
Using information based on data provided by the carriage industry, the Carriage Animal Temperature and Heat Index Committee voted today 5 – 1 (with one member absent) to move forward with a plan to lower the temperature where carriage horses will be pulled from the streets. 4 of the 5 members who voted for the change have direct ties to the carriage industry or the city (both of which profit from carriage tours). The city would not allow independent veterinarians to participate on the committee. In one effort to protect the industry from any lower temperature change, the city’s hired veterinarian suggested that carriage operators be allowed to offer tours in the evening hours in downtown neighborhoods to make up for any lost revenue.
Data used to come to the “95°/110°” decision came from the carriage industry that was then analyzed by veterinarians employed by the city and the carriage industry. Throughout the meeting, representatives from the city and the carriage industry both use the word ‘arbitrary,’ when it came to the temperature decision they were supporting. “This is why we need an independent study backed by experts from a university or scientific organization,” Elmore said. “Charleston Animal Society is in touch with experts who are excited about doing this study that will have impacts for not only Charleston but the entire country.”
Current Temperature Ordinance
New Proposed Temperature Ordinance
Horses are pulled after two consecutive readings made 15 minutes apart that reach:
98° or 125° heat index
(Horses returned after two consecutive readings below 98°)
Horses are pulled after four consecutive readings made 15 minutes apart that reach:
95° or 110° heat index
(Horses returned after two consecutive readings below 95°)
The city committee was formed after Charleston Animal Society publicly raised concerns about the humane working conditions of carriage animals in Charleston. “While lowering the temperature to pull animals is definitely a step in the right direction, this decision does not go far enough,” said Elmore. “We want to see a carriage industry that our state can be proud of, and the only way to do this, is with a scientific, peer-reviewed study that will use unbiased data.”
“The independent study could come back with different findings, we just don’t know,” Elmore said. “And it is irresponsible for the city and the industry to kick this can down the road based on ‘arbitrary’ feelings. Let’s get the facts. Let’s do the research. Let’s solve this issue once and for all.”
Charleston Animal Society has made a tremendous effort to navigate a humane middle ground on this industry that people have said time and again in polls they want to see banned. “We are not against the use of working animals, but we cannot support the conditions currently in place in Charleston because we do not believe they are humane. A study will help illuminate this once and for all,” Elmore said.
The temperature proposal still needs to be approved by the city’s Tourism Committee and City Council before it can be enforced. The three main issues a comprehensive study would research are:
· Traffic Congestion