I worked in the carriage industry for a number of years. One summer, I pulled into the barn after a tour and did the normal post-tour process of watching my animals’ temperature get taken and logged.
It was getting hot out there. Their temperature was elevated but within the officially sanctioned safety zone — a green light for the next tour.
My mules pulled us out of the barn and set the pace. We pulled over whenever we saw shade and gave a leisurely tour.
When we got down to the High Battery, we pulled over for a car, and the driver stopped next to the carriage, rolled down her passenger window, and started screaming at me that it was too hot for these animals to be out on the street.
An uncomfortable moment, but we all got through it and completed the tour without incident. The guests were happy.
Better still, the next temperature reading showed the animals’ temperature had gone down over the course of the tour, despite the increasing heat outside.
These lovely animals aren’t stupid. They know how to take care of themselves, given a chance.
By the way, this team of mules, and many other horses and mules, worked in Charleston for well over a decade.
It’s wonderful that people care about the welfare of working animals. I do too. Any working animal, any pet, any creature that we humans control, should be properly cared for.
That’s why I feel compelled to respond to a recent ad in this paper disparaging the carriage industry. I feel compelled to speak as an eyewitness to the care Tommy and Ben Doyle of Palmetto Carriage Co. give to their animals.
I checked the charts that record days on the farm v. days in the city, and I worked full-time so I knew they were accurate.
I’ve been to the farms where the animals hang out when they’re out of the city. I’ve seen animals shoed. I’ve seen the dentist at work.
And I’ve seen the Doyles pay to care for animals that don’t make them any money.
I realize this letter won’t change the minds of people who simply don’t believe animals should work, and that’s OK. But don’t imply that the people who work with these animals day in and day out are careless. They are anything but.