CHICAGO — A ride in a horse-drawn carriage in downtown Chicago may turn into nothing but a memory after a City Council committee voted in favor of banning them at the start of next year.
The council's Committee on License and Consumer Protection's vote Wednesday sent the proposed ordinance to the full City Council for a vote next week. The full council rarely fails to pass measures that are endorsed by its committees.
The vote could be a final chapter for the carriages that have been popular with tourists, newlyweds and others for generations but have also been the subject of harsh criticism by animal rights activists and others in recent years.
Alderman Brendan Reilly said it is time for the carriage rides to clip clop into the history books.
“There are folks that have an issue with this industry entirely related to traffic and public safety, (and) there are others who care about whether these animals are being treated in a humane fashion," said Reilly, who has spent years trying to regulate the industry to little effect. “For me, it’s a combination of both.”
Animal rights activists applauded the aldermen after Wednesday's vote.
“They all saw the inherent cruelty that the operators refused to follow the laws that impact public safety, as well as animal welfare laws," said Jodie Wiederkehr, founding member of the Chicago Alliance for Animals. "... We haven’t had that many accidents of horses dying, but we are lucky.”
The industry has been shrinking for years. Reilly pointed out that there are only 10 licenses left in Chicago, which is one-sixth the number at the industry's peak.
If the City Council votes in favor of the ban, Chicago would join cities such as Salt Lake City and Camden, N.J., that have already banned horse-drawn carriages.