Chicago City Council Votes to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

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Animal Wellness Action, an advocacy group for animal protection and welfare laws, applauded the Chicago City Council for their breakthrough vote.

"We applaud the Chicago City Council for breaking tradition with this historic move to protect our iconic American equines — whose very backs this country was built upon," Marty Irby, executive director at AWA, told PEOPLE in a statement.

"Working horses on slippery asphalt for long periods of time without the proper care and nourishment is inexcusable," Irby added. "The animal protection movement in America ignited 150 years ago over the issue of carriage horse abuse, yet many cities continue to allow it to persist today. The American people will no longer tolerate this archaic and abusive enterprise in our modern-day society — this isn’t 1820, it’s 2020, and we must eradicate this antiquated form of transportation and tourism."

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told the Sun-Times that the vote was "banner day for overworked horses."

"We have high hopes that this kinder, carriage-free city will influence others to follow suit, including New York — where a horse used for carriage rides died in Central Park earlier this year," Newkirk said.

Meanwhile, Larry Ortega, owner of Chicago Horse and Carriage, argued that claims of animal cruelty were "hypocritical."

"Even though there are city, state and federal laws clearly stating what is animal cruelty, there has never been one horse driver or owner arrested operating on the city streets of Chicago," Ortega told the Sun-Times. "To think that the city is fine for a mounted police horse, but not a carriage horse is blatantly hypocritical."

The Chicago horse-drawn carriage industry has been shrinking for years. The new ban will only affect three companies and 10 unused licenses. At its peak, the city had 60 licenses available.

The ban will go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2021.

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