ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – There's a new a petition drive to ban horse drawn carriage rides in St. Louis.
There's been a lot of news about carriage rides in the U.S. lately: a horse collapsing in New York and another bleeding from its hoof in South Carolina. A company here is now making news but also firing back.
The petition drive on the Care 2 website has garnered more than 45,000 online signatures from around the world in its first week.
“I am so surprised. I didn’t know it was going to get anywhere,” said Daniella Flores, a St. Ann businesswoman who launched the petition drive.
The wave of news stories regarding carriages nationwide led her to take action, including the Metro Taxicab Commission issuing a “cease and desist” order against Brookdale Farms of Eureka which operates a service downtown.
The city’s public health director claims to have cited Brookdale for operating in excessive heat one afternoon in August.
Brookdale’s owner denies that but admits to using unlicensed drivers to set the stage for a lawsuit he’s filed against the commission, which forces his farm to undergo the same licensing and inspections cab companies.
Obviously, operating cabs and horse carriages are vastly different enterprises.
“We don’t fit by the code,” said Brookdale owner, Jerry Kirk. “Realistically everybody’s known that, everybody’s just kind of gone along. We were kind of going along with it until the fees have skyrocketed so much and made it so expensive for our drivers.”
That’s not the issue for the thousands signing the petition.
It’s simply about having horses pull carriages full of people in an urban setting, Flores said.
“Because in St. Louis, downtown-city, the conditions are insane for having horse carriages going around along with all the construction, the traffic. There are semis going in and out of there every single day,” she said.
“All I can say is 49,000 people that are there on their computer signing a petition, aren’t out here working every single day taking care of these animals…if those people ever got to do this, I think they’d change their mind,” Kirk said.
Brookdale Farms was still offering carriage rides downtown and the past year had been his busiest ever, he said.
There 4 licensed companies here need rules for horse carriages, not taxis, he said.
The Care 2 petition has no legal bearing but given the feedback, Flores is considering launching a drive to put a ban on the ballot for St. Louis voters.