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Activists Urge City To Deny Horse Carriage Companies License Renewals After Violations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Three horse carriage companies operating in Chicago are up for license renewals on Thursday and activists are urging the city to deny them based on allegations that the horses are mistreated.

Jodie Wiederkehr, with the Chicago Alliance for Animals, said she finds and documents all kinds of violations, mostly horses working longer than six hours - sometimes double - and not having water and working in extreme temperatures.

The city concedes there have been hundreds of violations.

"I like to use an analogy, if a liquor store in Chicago was caught selling alcohol to a minor they would lose their license, but these companies can violate humane laws over and over again and as long as they pay their fine they can keep doing business and I think that's really tragic," Wiederkehr said.

The companies, Antique Coach & Carriage, Chicago Horse & Carriage and Great Lakes Horse & Carriage have been fined a total of $8,500 dollars this year.

The city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Wiederkehr said, is not enforcing the law, especially on weekends and holidays.

The department disagrees. It said the companies will have their day in court and will establish compliance plans.

The companies insist their horses are not mistreated.

An effort to ban the carriages three years ago fizzled in the City Council.

A 2015 fire that the FBI determined was arson, destroyed a stable and carriages in the Old Town neighborhood. No horses were injured.

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