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Government, Politics & Issues

Lawsuit Argues St. Louis Taxi Regulators Must Keep Tabs On Horse Carriages

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

An animal rights group is suing the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC), arguing that it has failed to regulate horse-drawn carriages in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis Animal Rights Team (START) filed a petition this month in St. Louis City Circuit Court. It maintains that the MTC must use its authority to ensure public safety and the well-being of the animals, said attorney Jessica Blome.

“We think that somebody needs to be policing these companies that are exploiting these horses for profit and we think the entity with power to do that should step up to the plate and re-assert its power over the industry,” she said.

The MTC has the authority to oversee horse-carriage businesses under its existing vehicle-for-hire code, she said.

“In most cities, if someone sees something happen to a horse, there’s somewhere where we can make a complaint. You can go to a regulatory entity and say ‘hey, I saw something happen to this horse. I’m worried about this horse. I’m worried about the driver. Could you please go investigate?’ But, right now, there’s nothing like that in St. Louis and that’s pretty odd,” she said.

A request for comment was not immediately returned by the MTC, but earlier this year, an attorney for the commission explained that a pending legal dispute has suspended the MTC’s traditional authority to regulate horse carriages. When asked who, if anyone, had regulatory authority over for-pay horse carriages in St. Louis and St. Louis County, MTC attorney Neil Bruntrager said, “the answer is: I don’t know. I would suspect that no one is, but that is the question. From our perspective, it’s not us.”

Both businesses in St. Louis that offer carriage rides, St. Louis Carriage Co. and Brookdale Farms, still hold licenses with the MTC, but neither have been required to have business licenses. 


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