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Animal Rights Activists Want Protections Enforced For Downtown Carriage Horses

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — They are big and strong and they work hard: the horses that pull the carriages downtown. Do you know the city has a number OF laws aimed at protecting them?

For instance, they’re not supposed to be out when the temperature falls below 15 degrees or rises above 90.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams takes a look at a new push to make sure that laws are followed.

Alongside Water Tower Place, carriage operator Cathy McFadden seemed to have great affection for her horse, Festus.

McFadden knew the city ordinance requiring Festus and the other carriage horses stay out of extreme cold or heat.

“I don’t want to be out here when it’s that hot either,” said McFadden.

But animal rights activists Nancy Smith and Matt McEwen say they’ve seen something else.

Asked if he has ever seen the horses in sub-zero temperatures or over 90 degrees, McEwen said, “Dozens of times, unfortunately.”

They want a decal placed on all the carriages asking the public to call the city if they see horses out when the temperature is below 15 or above 90 degrees.

“We’re really just trying to do something that will alert people and will hopefully inspire the horse carriage company owners and drivers to just follow the guidelines,” said Nancy.

Smith and McEwen say the stakes are high for the animals. They showed a photo this carriage horse in New York City they had said suffered heat stroke.

Larry Ortega, owner of Chicago Horse and Carriage says he actually supports the decal idea and insists he follows every city law.

“They’re very well cared for,” said Ortega. “We have to have them vet-checked every three months. A certificate has to be sent to the city, animal care and control.”

The decals would be like the ones on the backs of cabs, asking you to call 311 if you spot a problem with the taxi.

The horse measure goes before a City Council committee tomorrow. If you see a horse out in extreme temperatures, you should certainly call the city immediately.