St Augustine is again the focus of protest over its horse-drawn carriage business; this Saturday by an estimated 50 protesters with One Protest, a Jacksonville-based advocacy group, and Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, a statewide organization.
Historic City News was informed that at about 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2019, animal rights activists plan to assemble along the bayfront where city-franchised carriages operate their businesses. Customers for the carriage rides include both walk-up and charter fares.
“We focus on the first day of summer to call attention to the heat,” Carla Wilson, Central Florida Coordinator with the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, said. “Horses don’t belong pounding this hot pavement in the summertime.”
Readers will recall multiple protests led by the Animal Rights Foundation in 2012 that led to a new ordinance that included protections for carriage horses; including a requirement that horses be provided water after every tour, and a rule that horses must be pulled off the streets if the temperature reaches 95 degrees.
Among other rules, horses must be inspected by a veterinarian at least twice a year, and there are limits to how many days and hours a horse can work consecutively. People who break the laws can be fined $100 per violation and can have their franchise agreement with the city suspended.
Despite the owners’ claims the horses are well taken care of, Wilson said she intends to continue to hold protests and push for a complete ban of horse and carriages in St Augustine. Several other Florida cities have banned the carriage horse industry, including Key West, Palm Beach, and Panama City Beach.