City Council may restrict horse ownership in Philadelphia

A horse rescued by PSPCA officers earlier this week from an illegal stable in North Philadelphia.

Councilman Bill Greenlee today introduced a bill on behalf of Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration that would regulate how city horse-owners are permitted house and treat their animals.

“First, it gives a very minimum area that the horse has to be housed on – a quarter acre – which isn’t that large, but believe it or not, some people keep horses in their backyard,” Greenlee said. “And it sets certain regulations on the cleanup of the horses, the maintenance, the feeding of the horses.”

The legislation sets a fine of $300 and possible seizure of the horse if conditions are serious enough, according to Greenlee.

Horse ownership in the city has come under fire in the past due to the volume of cruelty allegations received by the PSCPA – horses are the leading victims of humane complaints in the city after cats and dogs. PSPCA officers earlier this week removed one dead horse and rescued three other horses from an illegal stable in North Philadelphia that had been twice cited earlier this year for inadequate conditions.

“It’s not that something that happens every day or every week certainly, but there were things that happened over time that made us realize that we need some written regulation,” Greenlee said of the rescue and others like it. “We’ve never really had that for the maintenance of horses. So that was just one incident, that’s just one example that we needed to do some regulations. And the administration has come up with these ideas and I certainly support them and I think they make sense.”

Greenlee said he’s not sure why there is currently nothing in the Philadelphia Code regulating horse ownership, as ownership of many other animals is either prohibited or limited.

“We’re really, in a sense, treading on new ground because it’s never been in there,” he said. “There’s regulations against having certain animals, but horses have really never been covered in the code. The only answer I could give to that is that nobody ever did it. … And I think a lot of people thought there were a lot of things that aren’t in there, that do not exist. So when we looked at it, we realized we need some real regulations to enforce actions that may be detrimental, either to the community or to the animal.”

The bill will be considered at a Council committee hearing before it goes up for a first reading and final vote.


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