Chicago’s horse-drawn carriages to end next year

The Chicago City Council voted Friday to end horse-drawn carriage rides in the city after Dec. 31.

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Carriage driver Rich Capalbo and his horse “Fredo” turn onto Chicago Ave. from Michigan Ave., on March 30, 2011. l Sun-Times Library

Sun-Times Media

The Chicago City Council voted Friday to end horse-drawn carriage rides in the city after Dec. 31.

Alderman Brendan Reilly, whose ward includes the city’s central business district, said he has tried to persuade carriage operators to “treat their animals in a humane way.” When the violations continued, he had no choice but to push to banish them from city streets, Reilly said.

Animal rights activist Ingrid Newkirk praised the aldermen’s decision.

“This is a banner day for overworked horses in Chicago, who will no longer be forced to pound the pavement through extreme heat, thunderstorms, or blizzards and who are often deprived of even a drink of water,” said Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Larry Ortega, owner of Chicago Horse and Carriage, has dismissed the animal cruelty argument.

“Even though there are city, state and federal laws clearly stating what is animal cruelty, there has never been one horse driver or owner arrested operating on the city streets of Chicago,’’ Ortega previously said.

The horse-drawn carriage industry has been shrinking for years. The City Council’s decision affects three companies, with 10 licenses unused. At one time, the city had 60 licenses available.

With the vote, Chicago joins cities such as Salt Lake City and Camden, New Jersey, that have banned horse-drawn carriages.

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