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Orlando has no nays for carriage horses

Mark Schlueb
Sentinel Staff Writer Orlando Sentinel

March 21, 2006

Though animal-rights advocates promise to launch protests, the City Council gave preliminary approval Monday for horse-drawn carriages to continue rolling through Orlando's streets.

A unanimous council voted to lift a cap on the number of permits, allowing new carriage companies to haul tourists around Lake Eola and carry brides and grooms on their wedding days.

The change to the city's code was a minor one, meant to remove an unintentional monopoly held by a carriage company that has all of the city's permits but is no longer in business.

"We're not relaxing any of the safety standards or anything else. All we're doing is opening up the market," Mayor Buddy Dyer told a handful of animal activists who attended the hearing.

Commissioners did not act on allegations from those activists, who said forcing horses to pull buggies is inhumane and dangerous for passengers, drivers and the horses themselves.

"I don't believe they're suited to pulling carriages in the Florida heat on hot asphalt. . . . The heat and humidity in Florida is quite intense," said Heather Carpenter, one of eight people who spoke against the measure.

It was the second time the city has voted on the matter in recent months. The council approved the code change in November, but the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida sued, saying the city erred by voting on an emergency basis and not allowing enough public input.

A judge agreed, so the council held the first of two public hearings Monday. The next will be April 3. A final vote will follow that hearing.

Opponents argued that it's dangerous to allow horses alongside Orlando's busy traffic. They cited accident reports from other cities.

But Barbara Turcyn of A Hitch 'n Time Inc., one of the companies planning to offer carriage rides for special events, said her horses are well-treated and never work in inclement weather.

"Horses are my life; they're my love; they're my babies," she said.
 

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