Police: Horse that fell in downtown Charleston is 'ok'

Courtesy: Charleston Animal Society

The Charleston Police Department has confirmed a horse slipped and fell Wednesday near the intersection of Meeting Street and Hassell Street.

It was something that attracted the attention of passersby and local animal rights activists. The animal's fall comes as tension continues to build between horse carriage companies and those who believe more regulations are needed.

Last month Charleston passed new horse carriage heat rules requiring carriage animals be pulled from service once temperatures reach 95 degrees or a heat index of 110. The previous acceptable operating temperature was 98 degrees with a heat index of 125. Wednesday's high in downtown Charleston was 80.

Meanwhile, groups like the Charleston Animal Society continue to push for more regulations as tourists and those living in the Charleston area take sides in the fight.

RELATED: Woman takes swings carriage workers, threatens to 'come after horses'

On Easter Sunday one such passionate person from Mount Pleasant got into an altercation with employees of Palmetto Carriage works attempting to give a tour.

"Listen, the animals are starving, they're hurting," she said.

The woman later said she worked for the Charleston Animal Society before taking swings at a man filming what the manager of the carriage company described as a "horribly uncomfortable situation.” READ MORE

The animal society has since said she was never employed by the organization but was a volunteer and donor. The organization said her actions are not condoned.

In a statement released later Wednesday, the organization said the following:

"These working horses operate under the harshest conditions in the nation, along with a lack of compliance and enforcement of the current law governing the enterprise. Therefore, Charleston Animal Society deems the current system inhumane and has called for significant reform based on an independent, scientific study."

Such a study is something local advocate Ellen Harley says she supports. She was angry Wednesday that the city called what happened to the horse a "slip." She argued if an independent veterinarian wasn't called in to review the situation, there's an issue.

Harley is a member of Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates. She's a lover of horses and runs a horse rescue. She says that doesn’t make her an expert but a very concerned person.

"A horse that lies on the ground for 30 minutes with his head down is not a horse that slipped," she said.

Harley was among those watching as employees of Charleston Carriage Works and others attempted to get the horse off the street. She said as she watched she thought about the impact on children, tourists, carriage companies and the horses. Our crew at the scene asked Charleston Carriage Works for a statement about the incident, and the company declined.

"Situations like this are not good for anyone," she said. "It's past time for an independent study."

"We want more humane working conditions for these animals. We are not opposed to working animals."

Those running Charleston horse carriage companies say the result of the back and forth with activists and push for more regulations has created some safety issues and is also changing the business. Palmetto Carriage Works general manager Tommy Doyle says those that don't agree with what is done should at least "give us the courtesy of coming by."

"Our place is open to the public 364 days a year. The city comes through all the time. The animals are well fed and well taken care of. We do get people that call and come by, and you know what, if you come down and still don't agree, that's no problem," Doyle said.

He agrees there's a problem for tourists and those in the industry, but his take is that it's the fault of what he describes as "drive-by activists."

"We get a lot of what we call drive-by activists," he said. "People that yell stuff out of the window. We've had people come in the barn and are on trespass notice to keep them away from the facility. This is unfortunately just becoming part of the business now."

He argues activists arriving when there is an issue or behaving like the woman seen in the video from Sunday take the driver's attention away from the animals and create subsequent safety concerns.

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