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Officials: Vet Found That Carriage Horse Pulled From Street Only Had Minor Abrasion

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A veterinarian found only a minor abrasian on a horse that was taken off the streets this past weekend after Chicago Animal Care and Control for an injury, officials said Tuesday.

On Sunday, Animal Care and Control reported that it received complaints that carriage operator Antique Coach & Carriage was giving rides with an injured horse, described as "light brown, with an injury to its rear left leg."

The inspector was sent to the carriage site at 100 E. Pearson St. and noticed that the horse, named "Forest (sic) Gump" had "what appeared to be wounds on both of the horse's rear legs and a slight limp." The horse carriage company was cited on allegations of working a wounded horse and not providing water within the working hour.

The inspector followed the horse back to the stable to ensure it was not working for the day, Animal Care and Control said.

But Forest Gump was seen by veterinarian Dr. John Hanover Jr. of The Animal Hospital of Gurnee on Monday, Animal Care and Control said. Hanover found that the horse only had "a minor, superficial abrasion on its rear leg, and he could not find an open wound," Animal Care and Control said.

Speficially, Hanover wrote that Forest Gump had a "superficial skin abrasion that did not bleed upon clipping and cleaning," and a scar on a lateral hock that has not changed in years and is not active.

Dr. Hanover called Animal Care and Control Tuesday to confirm his findings, and reported that the horse was "healthy, sound, and fit form performance," with a normal heart, lungs, and temperature.

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Forest Gump was not working when Animal Care and Control went to the scene on Tuesday.

On Monday, CBS 2's Tara Molina asked Antique Coach & Carriage manager Danny Shugrue about the horse.

Shugrue: "That horse did not have a problem - just its natural gait. We asked them to bring someone out here that knew a horse. They didn't have no one to send."

Molina: "So you're saying that the city's animal inspector doesn't know what they're talking about?"

Shugrue: "The one that was out here did not know horses."

Shugrue said further of the horse that was taken off the road: "We have a vet check it every three months, along with all of our others horses. There's nothing wrong with him."

But the incident came as calls are intensifying for a ban on horse carriages in Chicago altogether. An ordinance introduced and supported by 18 aldermen could put an end to the clippity-clops along Michigan Avenue.

"It's time to put this archaic practice to rest," said Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th).

Lopez said there have been hundreds of violations issued for such offenses.

"There have been hundreds of violations that deal with working the animals outside of regulated temperature – so if it's too hot or too cold, they still have the animals out," he said. "For working the animals for longer than the time frame allowed – it's an eight=hour working day. Sometimes they're out 12 to 14 hours in a day."

Lopez supported a similar ban that was introduced last year, but believes it has a better chance of passing this time.

"As we see that you're putting all this undue burden and stress on the animals in an environment that is not their natural environment, we have to take a look as responsible stewards of these creatures and say, do we want this to continue?" he said. "And for myself and a number of members of the City Council, that answer is no."

Lopez said a vote, as early as next month, could mean what some call old fashioned tradition could be left in the past by 2020.

In 2014, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) proposed banning horse-drawn carriages in Chicago, saying they're a traffic hazard, a nuisance, and are cruel to animals. At the time, Burke was head of the powerful City Council Finance Committee, but he resigned from that post last year amid federal corruption charges.

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