Dallas Considers Banning Horse-Drawn Carriages

Horse drawn carriage
Horse-drawn carriage | Image by TheZAStudio/Shutterstock

City of Dallas officials are considering a prohibition against the use of horse-drawn carriages throughout the city, citing concerns about the treatment of horses and the overall safety of the carriages on Dallas streets.

However, carriage operators claim an outright ban is too severe and insist operators treat their horses with respect and care.

Discussion of a potential ban began during a Dallas City Council Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture Committee meeting in early December. Committee chair Adam Bazaldua (District 7) said he supports an outright ban on horse-drawn carriages.

“I don’t think we should have a place for horses on our streets,” Bazaldua told The Dallas Morning News. “I think it’s inhumane for the animal. I think it’s overall dangerous for having safer streets.”

Bazaldua said concerns from residents prompted the committee to take up the issue. He added that while he supports a ban, he is unsure how the City would enforce one. Bazaldua also stated that he believes some carriages are operating without proper City permits.

“It’s just a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Gloria Carbajal, lead organizer for the activist group Ban Horse Carriages Dallas. “These are animals working in unnatural conditions and surroundings, and I would think that is a liability for the city and the public.”

Others argue that a complete ban is a step too far.

“A ban would put us out of business. Bottom line,” said Brian High, owner of North Star Carriage, per the DMN. High said his business employs up to 40 people during the holiday season — when horse-drawn carriages are in the most demand.

“There are people who depend on these jobs. It’s an important part of their yearly income, and I hope that means something,” High said.

High maintains that his horses are treated with care and noted that several City regulations are in place to ensure horses are not overworked.

“I know that people think that we work [the horses] forever, but that’s just inaccurate and wrong,” High said. “If we’re out four hours during the week, it’s been a busy, busy weeknight.”

High added that he would rather work alongside the City to update regulations on the business to make certain that horses across Dallas are treated humanely.

For example, operators cannot work horses when the temperature exceeds 99 degrees, but High said he would like that limit lowered.

Regulations on horse-drawn carriages are administered by the City’s Aviation Department, along with rules for other transportation businesses such as taxis and limousines.

Aviation Department director Patrick Carreno said his office will brief council members more about these regulations moving forward. He added that his staff will work with residents to gather input about a potential ban on the business.

“If this stays and is found to be of value to the city, we’ll make sure it’s regulated properly,” he told the DMN. “Whether it does stay, that’s not a question for our department to answer. It’s more of what direction the City Council wants to go.”

City officials will continue deliberating the issue going into 2024. Carreno said his department hopes to gather sufficient community input by April.

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