ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis health director called this week for better working conditions for city carriage horses, including sidelining the animals on days when the heat index reaches 100.
City Health Director Pam Walker set standards for ventilation and cleanliness for stables, according to the St. Louis Post- Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1qGx8IZ ). She ordered horse carriage companies not to work their animals more than eight hours a day, five days a week, adding that each horse should be given an annual, five-week vacation.
Walker said earlier this week she wanted to ban the companies, but later softened her position. She also clarified that she doesn't have the authority to do so.
"I'm not going to ban them," she said. "But I am going to assure the welfare of the horses. I'm going to make sure the standards are clear."
She said her office does have the authority to regulate and protect animals in St. Louis, after the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission lost its right in a lawsuit.
Jerry Kirk, owner of Brookdale Farms, said he didn't have any problems with Walker's recommendations.
"It's less than what we already are doing," Kirk said.
The owner of the city's other carriage company, St. Louis Carriage Company, said he will ignore Walker's requirements. Greg Streeter said he's already following rules previously made by the taxicab commission and the Carriage Operators of North America, an organization that's helped set guidelines nationwide.
Walker said she's continuing to research how other cities handle carriage companies and why some have banned them. She said she'll continue to favor a ban in St. Louis if efforts to assure the well-being of animals don't result in a safe environment.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com