Atlanta split on future of horse carriages in city, as new legislation awaits

There is a new push to ban horse-drawn carriages in the city of Atlanta.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston was in downtown Atlanta on Friday night, where an animal rights group said the heat is one reason the animals shouldn’t be pulling a carriage. In contrast, others argue that a ban would also put people out of business.

Horse carriages not only appear in Atlanta but also in Savannah —even up in Helen.

Now, City Council member Keisha Waites wants horse-drawn carriages gone in 18 months and replaced with electric carriages.

Waites says the city can do better without eliminating an industry. She plans to introduce a new ordinance that would phase out horse-drawn carriages in 18 months and replace them with electric carriages like these we found online.

“We want to assist them in moving to a different or transformation in terms of electronic carry in mobilizing and moving people,” Waites said.

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Channel 2 called the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which said that it has four inspectors to make sure the horses are properly cared for, and that the city of Atlanta also has rules, including mandatory water breaks and work restrictions, like horses not being able to work in weather below 26 degrees or above 95.

“We’re not in the business of putting businesses out of business,” the department said.

A cell phone video of a horse in downtown Atlanta shows a horse taking off without a driver or passengers, with bystanders yelling at the driver, who didn’t see the horse take off.

In Atlanta, horse-drawn carriages can only come out after 7 p.m.

Julie Robertson, who shot that video, said she’s so concerned that she wants Atlanta to ban horse-drawn carriages.

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Channel 2 has reported on other issues, like in 2010 when a car slammed into a horse-drawn carriage, sending the driver and three women to the hospital and injuring the animal.

“I was extremely concerned for the horses,” Robertson said. “Horses don’t belong in downtown Atlanta.”

Waites said she will introduce her legislation on Aug 1.

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