City Adopts Changes to Horse and Carriage Ordinance
Friday, May 12th, 2017
Savannah City Council members voted 7-1 to approve revisions to the City’s Horse and Carriage Ordinance. The revisions are intended to regulate the horse-drawn carriage industry, protect the health, safety, and welfare of the animals used in the tourism industry, as well as citizens, motorists and pedestrians using the public rights of way.
“Over the past two years, the Tourism Management and Ambassadorship Department brought together representatives from the carriage industry, local veterinarians who treat large animals, animal advocates and the Tourism Advisory Committee to revise the Ordinance,” said Tourism Director Bridget Lidy.
One of the biggest adjustments is when to take the horses off the streets based on the heat. The City now prohibits horse-drawn carriage tours to operate when the temperature exceeds 95 degrees, rather than 98 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the horse’ respiratory rate and temperature must be monitored when the temperature reaches 85 degrees. Previously, only a visual inspection was required when the temperature reached 90 degrees.
Guidelines on caring for animals are now part of the ordinance as well. The City’s tourism director will biannually review a tour company’s certificate of serviceability to verify the animal’s health is in good standing with a licensed veterinarian and conduct inspection to make sure the horse are healthy and being cared for. The ordinance also requires horse-drawn carriage companies to train employees in equine first aid.
Other changes include:
• Accidents requiring a police report shall be reported to the tourism director within 24 hours
• The issuance of commercial decals are now tied to annual vehicle inspections
• Horse and carriages cannot be left unattended in horse-drawn carriage stands and horse cannot be separated from the carriage except during an emergency
• A structured training program for the tour guide driving the carriage and horse
• Any horse-drawn carriage company whose operators receive five or more citations within a 30-day period will be subject to a fine ranging from $500-$1,000.
Tourism Management and Ambassadorship Department has received a positive response from local horse-drawn carriage companies who support the ordinance revisions.
Following the comments from the City Council Workshop in the summer of 2016 about equine spills, staff met with the equine sanitation service provider company. At that time, the company worked with the City to research and test alternative formulas to treat the urine that would not jeopardize the storm water system. This resulted in the company employing a new product that, when used properly, dissipates odors. The City’s enforcement staff monitor this issue daily.
Changes were also made to provide consistency with the Tour Service For Hire Ordinance revisions approved in October 2015 eliminating the tour guide testing and permitting requirements.
District 6 Alderman Tony Thomas voted against the ordinance. While he applauded staff’s efforts to work with the tour companies to lower the heat threshold, he voiced concerns about the horse-drawn carriages operating in the summertime.
This is the first revision to the ordinance since it was created in 1977.