FORT MYERS, Fla.- How would you like to take a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout downtown Fort Myers?
The city is considering a plan to allow two carriages to operate year-round. In the past, only one was allowed, and only for occasional special events on the weekends.
“Having a horse-drawn carriage will add a nice ambiance to downtown. We have a historic area and I think people enjoy taking a horse and buggy ride, learning about the history of the area,” said Don Paight, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Some opposed to the idea worry that drivers will become angry if they’re caught behind a carriage.
“To have horse buggies, carriages… it’s going to slow the traffic completely down,” said Paula Renaud, co-owner of Scoops on First.
“Slowing traffic down is a good thing,” said Paight.
The rules would require operators to have diapers on the horses, and for carriage drivers to shovel up anything left on the streets. Animal rights advocates call the carriages, cruel and dangerous to horses.
“There have been several instances just in the past couple of years in cities across the country of horses spooking due to normal city traffic, and other noise, and causing accidents as a result,” said Ashley Byrne with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Others believe responsible owners will make sure the horses are calm and treated humanely.
“I have friends that have horses and as long as they’re taken care of, I don’t see a problem with it,” said Wendy Vogenberger.
If the city council approves, horses could be on the streets in a month or two.