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Alderman Ed Burke Takes a Stand Against Nuisance Carriages in Chicago

A large brown horse is chasing a small horse in a pasture.

The Wonderful, Beautiful Horse.

Every time I see one of those horse and carriage contraptions moseying up the streets of downtown Chicago, I want to yell out, “ANIMAL CRUELTY!” and wish them out of my sight. I do not like the sight of them and think we have enough “horsepower” on our streets that is overwhelming the carriage horses.

In this issue I must take a stand with the opinion of Alderman Burke to ban the horses and carriages from Chicago streets, and the reasons are valid and numerous.

First of all, the horses are real animals that should not be subject to the dangers presented on Chicago’s busy streets. This is cruel to them. They are not mechanical menials or slaves to our whims. They have dignity and feel and breathe and they should not be subjected to these conditions.

A mounted man in a blue uniform on a dark brown horse

Yes there are police horses and yes there are horses used in dressage, in sports, in parades and other ceremonies in the United States and around the world, but the situation in Chicago is different, the use and idea are different. The carriage drivers are shuttling people around in heavy traffic, they hold up and stall traffic, they get around the busses, around large vehicles such as trucks and limousines, and they leave more than just the slow traffic. They leave irritated drivers who already have enough on their minds without the thought of injuring a horse, damaging a hundred-year-old carriage or injuring carriage patrons.

And another thing about horses: they leave messes and smells, but to the messes.

How many of you know that many drivers dump the “loads” that end up in those large bags behind the horse? What they eat and drink has to come out somewhere, after all. The evidence of the crap (literally) is clear at the corner/intersection of Chestnut and Dearborn streets in the Gold Coast. I have seen them actually flush the bags and dump the contents at those corners. The waste runs off and it is plain that it comes from the horses. Imagine what happens when that dries? You step in in it and you definitely smell it. Imagine that getting into the water supply?

When you are at the bus stops that are along the area of Chestnut, Dearborn and Delaware, you can certainly see and smell the “evidence” and when you are waiting twenty minutes for a bus and you are thinking of going out to eat, well, it tends to just about make you lose your appetite. Animal waste is waste after all, it is toxic and full of germs and it attracts rats. Chicago is trying to get rid of the rats; we are told to clean up after the dogs because the waste attracts rats so why are the carriage drivers allowed to dump the horse waste at night when they are off shift? Do they not think about the problem of the rats or the fact that people live and work around where they dump the waste loads?

YEEECCCHHHHH.

I do not think that this is safe or sanitary, not in the least. These carriages are around homes, restaurants, and schools, hotels, churches, places where people congregate, where they walk, and where they eat. Horses have an odor just as any animal does, and when a horse has been outside doing that much work they are going to be irritable, smelly, accumulating waste in the behind bag, and be tired. That is a dangerous combination.

It is not that people have not been injured or property damaged or anything like that. It is the health problem these animals can cause in the matter of the dumping of the waste. It is not whether or not we “beat” New York City to the finish of the deed of banning the carriages and the hazards. We just need to do it.

The kids enjoy being around the police horses as well. The horse officers serve a real duty; they are not for the satisfaction of the tourist trade or the idea of nostalgia. They have a job to do like the security dogs you see in train stations. The horse and carriage belong in the farm community, where their role of the working animal has real meaning, or on the ranches, or at best they should roam the wild lands free and clear of being burdened by breathing in carbon monoxide, being blown at by the horns of impatient drivers, being blasted by the wake of large trucks and busses and being potentially endangered by weather and road conditions that could cause them harm.

The loss of a few carriages is not going to hurt the tourist industry here. We have much more to offer… like the zoo for instance, where animals are cared for and are not promoted as beasts of burden. I think an animal in a natural or as natural a setting as possible is so much better to see and experience than the situation we see with the horse and carriage trade.

Two horses in a pasture, one is standing beside the other that is laying down.

Horses relaxing and keeping watch in a natural and traffic-free setting.

Please save the horses. Let the kids know that there are better ways to treat the animals, that life is precious and that we must treat all life with respect.

Divi Logan. Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/02/05/alderman-ed-burke-proposes-ban-on-horse-drawn-carriages/

2. Wikipedia contributors. “Horse.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

3. https://portal.chicagopolice.org/portal/page/portal/ClearPath/About%20CPD/Specialized%20Units/Mounted%20Unit

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