Read the original article by Martin Staunton at wsav.com here.
Some animal advocates will gather in downtown Savannah this weekend to call for the end of an industry. There is a planned protest that takes aim at the horse and carriage tour business. Ellis Square will serve as the backdrop for the protest. Savannah Animal Advocacy, a group of nearly two hundred people in Chatham County, is calling for the protest. Ruth Arnone is the organizer. “My desire is for a full ban and that would mean a phase out so that the horses as well as the employees of the companies could find, um, a place to go. We have no hate for the carriage operators or the drivers, uh, we just want better life for those horses. ” Arnone said. Her group believes the lives that carriage horses lead are inhumane. “Because horses that are used for, ah, carriages are not treated the way horses should be treated. They belong in fields and meadows, not on, not on hard paved city streets…and in this city, especially in Savannah, the horse heat ordinance rather, is um, is really inhumane.” said Arnone.
The city code in Savannah regulating carriage horses and heat was updated by city council May 11, 2017. It contains very specific guidelines regarding the heat index and exact measures owner operators must take to protect horses from dangerous temperatures. We spoke with Cara Marshall, the owner -operator of Carriage Tours of Savannah. Marshall says carriage tours can bring history to life, while Arnone counters it’s unneccessary. “Horse drawn carriages have been part of Savannah’s heritage for 285 years, since we were established in 1733.” said Marshall. “We’re no longer in those times. We don’t need to use animals, um to work for us.” Arnone said, but Marshall says the horses do no pay an unpleasant price for the nostalgic tours. “Nobody’s looking to to do anything that would be detrimental to animals. We’re trying to reconnect with our history.” Marshall said, adding, she’s not upset by the planned protest. “I think sometimes people don’t understand that we are the biggest advocates of these horses. We advocate on a daily basis for these horses. They are our greatest love and passion.” Marshall said.
The protest is set to begin at noon, Saturday, July 28, 2018 at the intersection of Barnard and Congress Streets off Ellis Square. “We’ll have activists there holding signs. It is a peaceful protest and basically, we just want to raise awareness for what happens to the horses.” Arnone said.