On Saturday afternoon, a 13-year-old horse named Jerry was pulling a carriage in Salt Lake City traffic and suddenly collapsed to the ground. According to veterinarians who rushed to help, a sudden bout of colic caused the 13-year-old horse to collapse at South Temple and State Street, and he was unable to get up.
Kara Sally said she witnessed Jerry’s collapse on the street Saturday while she was with her five-year-old daughter."This is most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen," she said.
Jerry was near the end of a tour when he suddenly kicked his stomach and collapsed to the ground, according to the Daily Mail.
‘[He] just didn’t want to move,’ city resident Ronald Schulthies told the Salt Lake Tribune. ‘His eyes were open and when we’d move him, he’d neigh and whinny.’
Schulthies said Jerry would attempt to stand but quickly fall back down. A video shows the horse being lifted with a forklift and then being lifted into a barn, still held by the forklift.
Jerry was eventually lifted into a trailer and quickly sedated. He’s now recovering, according to reports.
Salt Lake County Animal Services said on Tuesday that officers found no violations of city ordinance or policy after investigating the incident and visiting the recovering Jerry and his owners.
PETA officials, however, have alleged that high temperatures contributed to Jerry’s collapse. It reached 97 degrees that day, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Humane Society claimed that horses working in the city risk overheating on hot asphalt, endure loud noises, breathe exhaust fumes. In winter, they are forced to labor in frigid, inclement weather, which puts both horses and people at risk.
Though controversy over horse carriages may be new to the Utah capital, it is nothing surprising to New York City. Elizabeth Forel, founder of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, says that every online poll since 2006 has shown between 75 and 80 percent of respondents want the horse-drawn carriages business to be shut down.
“A horse should not be forced to work between the shafts of his carriage for many hours per day, with a metal bit in his mouth, a diaper tied to his rear, blinders blocking his view, ear plugs, and sometimes a muzzle,” said Forel.
Now animal rights advocates both in and outside of Salt Lake City are calling for an end to the ‘cruel industry’ of horse-drawn carriage rides.
Donna Pemmitt, who is not a Utah resident, is calling for an end to horse-drawn carriages in an on-line petition. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 3,800 people from around the world had signed Pemmitt’s petition seeking to end the "cruel industry."
Amy Meyer, of Salt Lake City, started a petition at Change.org, and had gathered more than 1,000 signatures byTuesday afternoon.
Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke said Monday he had asked council staff to gather more details about Jerry’s collapse.
Jerry’s owners say they had no indication he had colic before he headed out for work and that they always carry water on the carriage for the horse.
South Mountain Equine veterinarian Lyle Barbour, who is not treating Jerry, said colic usually strikes suddenly in horses. He said most of time, nothing can be done to prevent colic, which is the No. 1 cause of death in horses.
As Jerry is recovering, the city is considering a change to its ordinance. "We think it’s important we find out specifically what took place," he said. "I want to make sure that we look at every angle first. [Changing an ordinance] is not something I take lightly."
The Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office also received inquiries about the incident, said city spokesman Art Raymond, and they are all taken seriously. However, he said, it would be "imprudent" to act on limited information, so the city is waiting for the conclusion of the investigation by animal services.
"This incident creates an opportunity for us to have a discussion about whether this is an appropriate business," Raymond said.