Single white horse pulls carriage full of people

Extreme heat ordinance requires FOUR readings of a sizzling 95 degrees before horses can be relieved of the oppressive heat.

“Heat Safety Week”? Where is Heat Safety for the Carriage Animals?

It’s “Heat Safety Week”…

Mayor Tecklenburg recently announced that “Heat Safety Week” will run from May 15th – May 19th. We are being called to stay hydrated and limit our exposure to the sun. But what about the carriage animals? 

  • The City ordinance forces carriage animals to work in the most extreme temperatures in the U.S. 95 degrees measured FOUR stories above a hotel and measured FOUR times before these voiceless animals are allowed to rest. 
  • With the steamy hot summer season upon us, it’s crucial to prioritize the well-being of our beloved carriage animals and raise awareness about their safety during extreme heat conditions.
NOAA's National Weather Service Heat Index chart

We believe that everyone can play a vital role in ensuring the true welfare of these voiceless animals during “Heat Safety Week.” What can you do?

We have outlined several calls to action for you to get involved and make a meaningful impact:

  1. Contact the Mayor and City Council:
    We encourage you to reach out to the mayor and your City Council representative and express your concerns about the current extreme ordinance. Your voice matters, and by urging the City Council to strengthen regulations and standards for carriage animals during hot weather, we can make a significant difference. You can find contact information for City Council members on the official website:

The mayor’s contact information is 

[email protected]


Here is a sample script you can use: 

My name is <XYZ> and I’m a Charleston resident. <Add any important facts about your role with the city, etc., that you think it’s important for them to know.> 

I’m <calling/writing> to express my concern over the safety and well-being of the horses and mules who work in Charleston’s streets pulling tourists in carriages. 

The current practice of horses pulling the heaviest loads in the oppressive, grueling heat of Charleston is cruel, dated, and, frankly, embarrassing for the city and state. 

This week, Mayor Tecklenburg announced it is Heat Safety Week in Charleston. As a Charleston resident, I want the City to also put measures in place to protect the carriage horses and mules who are forced to work in the grueling heat.

Fortunately, we can give our citizens and tourists an alternative. A local entrepreneur, Kyle Kelly, recently unveiled an electric carriage that doesn’t require horses but still gives riders the charm of a carriage. The e-carriage gives Charlesonians and tourists a safe, eco-friendly, and pro-business alternative to horses and mules working in our streets. 

I urge you to support and celebrate this local entrepreneur’s innovation by leading the city to make way for this new vehicle to operate tours in our streets. I urge you to take a pro-business, pro-free market stance and allow competition in this market to give citizens and tourists who care an option. And I urge you to help us attract tourists to our city who want an alternative to horse-drawn carriages. 

As a tax-paying Charleston citizen who votes in local elections, this issue is very important to me, and I will be voting on it. 

Thank you for your time and for listening to me. 

  1. Send Pictures of Carriage Animals:
    Help us be a voice for these magnificent animals by sharing pictures of carriage horses that you have taken during your visits to Charleston. These images will be invaluable in raising awareness about their conditions and advocating for their well-being. Please send your photos to [email protected] so that we can utilize them effectively in our awareness campaigns.
  2. Volunteer with Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates:
    We invite you to join our passionate team as a volunteer. By dedicating your time and energy, you can actively contribute to the mission of ensuring the safety and welfare of carriage horses. Whether it’s assisting with educational initiatives, organizing events or the community, or providing hands-on support, your involvement will make a positive impact. Please visit our website to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to get involved.
  3. Donate to Support Our Cause:
    Your generous donations play a crucial role in helping us continue our efforts to spread awareness, advocate for improved regulations, and provide resources for the well-being of carriage horses. Your contribution, no matter the size, makes a difference. If you would like to support us, please click the DONATE button below and contribute what you can.

As citizens and visitors, we can seek shelter from the sun. Carriage animals cannot. 

Let’s come together as a community and prioritize the safety and well-being of our cherished carriage animals. Your active participation in Heat Safety Week can make a lasting impact and ensure a better future for these animals who bring joy to our city.

Thank you for your time and support. Together, we can make a difference!


Operating in danger of heat distress

  • The NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Aeronautical Association) Heat Index Chart shows humidity on the side and temperature across the top.
  • Look at 95 degrees on the NOAA Chart. This is the temperature at which the current ordinance requires horses taken off the streets.

    • The humidity is usually very high in Charleston; between 70 to 100% is the typical range.

    • You can see that 95 degrees registers in the DANGER category. Not Caution. Not Extreme Caution. DANGER.

  • Horses and mules in the market areas have NO shelter from the direct sun.
  • Unlike humans, carriage animals cannot get out of the heat or get water when they feel the need.

LOOPHOLE to keep carriage animals working in extreme heat:

  • The new ordinance requires FOUR readings at 95 degrees. If during the FOUR readings the temperature dips even .01 degrees below 95 degrees, readings begin all over again.

City thermometer located four stories atop a hotel.

  • Where cool breezes blow
  • NOT where horses work
  • NOT at nose level

Concerns about hiding the temperature

In 2004 – 2006 the city established a subcommittee to look at the issue of the health of the horses that work on the streets of the city of Charleston. A member of the 2006 Committee, distributed the following memo to the committee:

Infrared image of carriage horse
Letter from Tom Doyle to committee members regarding temperature display


Charleston should use a Technologically Advanced Thermometer, i.e. WET GLOBE used by OSHA and National Weather Service

  • The WetBulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is a measure of the heat stress in direct sunlight, which takes into account: temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover (solar radiation).
    This differs from the heat index, which takes into consideration temperature and humidity and is calculated for shady areas.

  • Wet Globe Thermometer is HAND HELD so can be used at site of working equine.

  • If you work or exercise in direct sunlight, this is a good element to monitor. Military agencies, OSHA and many nations use the WBGT as a guide to managing workload in direct sunlight


If the humidity is more than 75%, heat stress is likely due to inability to sweat regardless of ambient temperature. (Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut)

As noted above, the humidity is usually very high in Charleston; between 70 to 100% is the typical range.

Common terms for horse overheating include:

  • Hyperthermia
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat cramps
  • Heatstroke
  • Sunstroke

Heat Stress for Working Animals

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has developed a weather heat-stress index for livestock that can be referenced by zip code. Weather is frequently recorded to reach in the “Danger” or “Emergency” level in Charleston.

Go to:


  • Type in zipcode (Charleston – 29401)

  • Click on AgWeather Forecast

  • Scroll down to see Livestock HeatStress

Charleston Animal Society is urging caretakers of working animals, such as horses and mules that pull tour carriages downtown, working dogs, farm animals, service animals and others to minimize work and to offer increased water and rest to avoid heat-related stress that could endanger the animals.

“Forcing animals to work in this high heat, coupled with the urban environmental stress is unconscionable and cruel, especially when there is an objective scientific-based source that provides these warnings,” said Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore.

Excerpt from Heat Warning by Charleston Animal Society

Charleston is looking for heat-related heath solutions

By Chelsea Grinstead | July 6, 2022

Two of the biggest weather impacts in Southeastern cities like Charleston are flooding and heat.

“In the jargon of the resilience world: Floods have more impact. Heat kills more people,” said City of Charleston Chief Resilience Officer Dale Morris.

Extreme heat, which is a sustained 105-degree heat index, causes more weather-related deaths in the United States than any other hazard, according to the National Weather Service. But not everyone’s risks are the same.

Morris calls himself “more of a water expert” who deals with flood risk mitigation. But lately, he’s focused on heat mitigation thanks to the city’s partnership with academic and governmental stakeholders who are researching heat-related health solutions.

“One of the cultural challenges that you find in the Southeast is, ‘Well, it’s hot. What’s new about that?’” Morris said. “In fact, overall temperatures are up [worldwide],” he said. “So yes, it’s actually hotter. There’s a belief that there are tipping points for the beginning of health impacts, even for people who are acclimated to heat.”

There’s an income-related aspect to heat vulnerability, such as air conditioning affordability, said Morris. Lower-income populations may have the same exposure to heat as people with higher incomes, but the heat impact may be greater without equal access to air conditioning.

There’s also occupational implications related to heat for those who work outdoors frequently. It’s not about being exposed to two or three hours of heat in a day — the health impacts from heat come from exposure over long periods of time without any relief.

It takes a village

The City of Charleston is part of the North American Climate Resilience Program, a subprogram of the global Resilient Cities Network. The network includes Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston.

A Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) research group, Health Outcomes from Temperature (HOT), is investigating the health consequences of heat in Charleston and throughout South Carolina.

Morris believes the HOT studies will provide a greater understanding of urban landform microclimates where the area’s tree canopy and home density affect whether wind or shade can reach those homes.

To him, the heat-health research at MUSC will bolster Charleston’s partnership with other cities and governmental efforts.

“Many hands make light work,” Morris said. “Within the Resilient Cities Network effort, we can share what we learned with other cities, and we can understand what they’re learning. We’re part of a larger set of processes.

“There’s a great opportunity for us to learn more, and this [HOT studies] information can eventually inform city policy or city investments or city actions,” he said.

Behind the scenes

MUSC’s HOT research team is gathering and analyzing data to determine if the number of deaths increase when the temperature increases and which sections of the city are more vulnerable to heat than others, said Dr. Jerry Reves, dean emeritus of MUSC’s College of Medicine. Ideally, the data gathering will be completed this summer.

The research group is led by principal investigator Dr. John Pearce, assistant professor of environmental health and leader of the MUSC Air Quality Lab. MUSC’s HOT team is part of a research consortium that includes The Citadel, the City of Charleston, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and New York-based Climate Adaptation Partners.

One of HOT’s efforts is a retrospective study that will measure the effect of temperature on death incidence by analyzing mortality data from 1999-2021 from S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office (SCRF) and statewide meteorological data, according to a HOT study plan written by Pearce and Reves. The goal is to predict which heat events are particularly dangerous for Charleston and S.C., Reves said.

Another HOT effort is a prospective study that will identify two populated areas on the Charleston peninsula that historically experienced different levels of heat during the same high temperature, Reves said.

“One will be an area where heat is not as intense and the other where it is more intense due to such things as minimal tree canopy, crowded housing, poor building materials and inconsistent air-conditioning.”

The City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Department mapped historically hot and cool spots in the city to contribute to the study. A map of tree canopy coverage within city limits can also be viewed on the city’s website.

HOT will compare temperature and air quality with morbidity and mortality in Charleston based on clinical data gathered from MUSC, Roper Hospital, regional EMS, the weather department and the consortium’s own temperature sensors.

The research team will analyze two areas that are tied to heat-related medical problems to uncover differential factors and eventually improve the area that suffers most.

“For example, if tree canopy is a factor in heat mitigation, more trees can be planted,” Reves said.

Ultimately, the study will compare health outcomes in the vulnerable area after performing heat mitigation to determine which measure protects the most people.

“If health improves with mitigation strategies, then city-wide mitigation will be employed where the benefit is the greatest,” he said. “Global warming is forcing us to be better prepared for heat. And what has been under appreciated is the fact that heat is life threatening.”

The Citadel volunteered to participate in three heat-related projects last year under Dr. Scott Curtis, director of the Near Center for Climate Studies at The Citadel.

The projects gathered heat data across the city to learn where, when and why it was hot. The studies focused on microclimates in areas such as the city’s medical district, to identify characteristics like tree canopy, urban design and heat index.

Curtis is currently looking to participate in HOT’s efforts in 2022 and beyond.

Introduction: From Charleston Animal Society


“On Sunday, July 19th, shortly after 8:00 P.M., the Animal Society began receiving calls from citizens regarding a runaway carriage and an injured carriage horse. Videos and photos followed later.

Monday night, we learned that the draft horse, Ervin, was euthanized. This saddens us for all involved, including the carriage company, its owners and staff.

The video and photos show a bleeding and terrified horse. This must not be ignored and we urge the City of Charleston to conduct a full investigation. These images raise more questions about the enterprise of using horses in an urban environment.

Using horses in an urban environment continues to be controversial. Charleston Animal Society has never called for a ban, rather a peer-reviewed, prospective, scientific study to inform community leaders of the working conditions of these animals. The carriage industry and its supporters have fought this reasonable compromise from the outset.

Rather than coming to the table, our supporters have been physically assaulted and now we have been engaged in a two-year lawsuit aimed at silencing us and our advocacy for these animals. It is time to revisit this cruel enterprise that has caused the needless deaths of both humans and equines.”

Joe Elmore
Charleston Animal Society
President & CEO, CAWA


Advocating for animals is hard work. Being the voice for the voiceless will sometimes make you a target of the slings and arrows of those who think it best to leave “well enough” alone. But thanks to your continued support, we are energized every day to do the right thing.

You’ve seen Charleston Animal Society in the news lately involving the carriage horse issue downtown and we want to be sure you understand our position clearly.


  • Charleston Animal Society is not opposed to working animals and has not called for a ban of the carriage industry.
  • The carriage industry has been the focus of controversy for decades.
  • In 2006, we participated on a committee that helped draft the current city ordinance regarding the humane treatment of horses.
  • In 2015, we made a review of the industry and found that many parts of the city ordinance were not being followed. One example is that horse carriages are to be weighed before each trip (to make sure a horse is not pulling too much) and this is not being done.
  • We were also concerned because the thermometer that takes the official temperature that decides when horses come off the street is four stories in the air (on top of the Doubletree Hotel). We believe it should be at ground-level, where the horses work.
  • Cities across America require only one max heat reading to pull horses off the street, yet Charleston requires four max heat readings spaced 15 minutes apart to pull equines. We believe one reading is sufficient.
  • For these reasons and more, we believe the current system allowing carriage tours is not humane and we called for an independent study to get answers on what would make the system safe and humane.
  • The carriage industry said while they now back the idea of the study, they will not allow their animals to participate. But clearly, a study cannot be completed without studying the horses and mules that live and work here.
  • Charleston Animal Society has reached out to industry leaders to meet about the study, but was turned down. We still remain hopeful that a meaningful dialogue can begin on making the study happen.

Thank you for taking the time to stay informed on this important issue. The bottom line is these working animals deserve our attention to ensure they work in a safe and humane environment. When you are sharing your opinion of the carriage industry, please do so with respect for all individuals, regardless of their position on the issue.


  • We believe the public deserves an independent, scientific, peer-reviewed, prospective study of the horses and mules that live and work in Charleston.

A major university that has equine expertise and does not have ties to the carriage industry would conduct this study. (The study would then be reviewed by other academic experts to review the research methods and conclusions.)

  • The independent study would provide unbiased and objective answers to questions that we receive year-round from residents, tourists and experienced horse owners, who worry about these animals.
  • The point of the study is to clarify with independent research, what is the most humane working environment for horses and mules in Charleston.
    • The research would address questions involving heat, load, congestion and other stressors, including how they relate to each other.
  • The study is endorsed by several local and national organizations including the TVMA (Trident Veterinary Medical Association), PetHelpers, Hallie Hill, Humane Net, Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates, AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners), HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).


Charleston Animal Society wants a prospective, peer-reviewed, scientific study to answer the question: “What are humane conditions for working animals in Charleston?” For decades, the issue of what are humane conditions has lingered over the tourism landscape in the Holy City. A study from a major university or equine expert would answer these questions with independent authority. Relying on data that is supplied by the carriage industry (as is currently the City of Charleston’s practice) raises questions about the integrity of the system that is supposed to make the welfare of animals that lead these for-profit tours its top priority.

Click Here for the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) Study Endorsement

Click Here for the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Study Endorsement

Click Here for Humane Society of United States Study Endorsement

Click Here for Study Endorsement from Equine Expert Kenneth L. Marcella, DVM, AAT

Summary of Charleston Animal Society Carriage Animal Study Proposal


Major local and national rescue organizations have united around our position on this important issuel

TELL CITY COUNCIL to do a scientific, peer-reviewed study that will give answers on “what is humane” based on science and research.

Contact Mayor John Tecklenburg: (843) 577-6970 Email [email protected]

Contact City Council c/o Clerk of Council:
(843) 724-3729 Email [email protected]