PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It's a Pittsburgh business with 123 years of history, but Carl Herrmann Furs feels targeted.
"I was surprised that without a discussion from anyone on city council that it was proposed without the people who it directly affects," said Carl Herrmann, president of Carl Herrmann Furs.
He said a reporter called his shop and that is how he learned about the legislation up for debate by Pittsburgh City Council. It would ban fur sales, horse-drawn carriages and the French delicacy foie gras in the city.
"I'm shocked they would do it," Herrmann said. "One, there's so many more important issues right now that the city is facing."
Hermann isn't alone in feeling blindsided. Farmer Michael Wertz said the city just hired him.
"This year for Light Up Night, the city actually hired us to do Light Up Night for them," said Wertz, owner of Mike's Carriage Service.
He started shoeing horses professionally when he was 19 years old and takes care of 45 horses at his Cecil farm. He calls the move a solution for a non-problem in Pittsburgh.
"I've been shoeing horses for a long time," Wertz said. "So, everybody would call the Horse Shoe to see if they could find a carriage or somebody that had a horse And that's how I got into it. I said wow, somebody's out there really needing this. So, that's when I started it back then, and it's always been a part-time thing."
Outgoing Councilman Bruce Kraus introduced the council bills, along with Councilwoman Erika Strassburger. KDKA-TV could not reach either by news time on Thursday.
The bills aim to protect animals and serve as preventative legislation, each carrying a $500 fine for violators.
"All the animals that are used for byproducts like leather, alpaca, cashmere, wool, shearling, they'll all derived from an animal," Hermann said. "So, why is it just a fur product?"
Wertz said he hopes to get some answers to his questions soon.
"Are they going to ban the county police and their police horses?" Wertz said. "Are they going to ban canines? What is the ban? State law states we can drive a horse and carriage on any highway except an interstate highway in Pennsylvania. Is that gonna be different in the city of Pittsburgh? We aren't allowed to operate through Pittsburgh. Is it only with passengers? Who's to say who the passengers are?"
Wertz said that he talked to Kraus and he said this legislation would not impact his business, saying the city wouldn't allow any new carriage ride companies to get licensed.
But Wertz said when he got started, the city didn't issue licenses for this, so he doesn't have an existing license. The legislation said the office shall not issue any new or renewed horse-drawn carriage licenses.
This issue could go to a vote in the coming weeks.
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