Just months ago, their very survival was in question. Against the advice of veterinarians and animal welfare workers, the horses of Philadelphia Carriage Company were trotting around Independence Mall carrying loads of tourists to see historic Old City.
But now, those horses have gone on to a much better place: a 250-acre horse sanctuary.
On Monday, Animal Care & Control Team Philly and the city confirmed that the horses formerly stabled in Spring Garden in a decaying factory have been transferred to a special horse sanctuary.
The horses are headed to Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mt. Airy, Maryland, for evaluation, rehabilitation and possible adoption out.
“We are grateful that Gentle Giants has agreed to accept these horses into their esteemed program and know that they will receive the high-quality care they deserve,” Vincent Medley, ACCT Philly Executive Director, said in a statement.
The horses were surrendered to the sanctuary’s care as part of a consent decree the horses’ former owner, Han Yee Hoo, reached with city officials after her stables were hit in July with multiple citations for animal welfare violations, such as some of the eight horses being kept in stables too small to turn around, and some being found covered in their own urine and excrement. Under the agreement, Hoo has shuttered her business and is expected to sell the 100-year-old former factory at Spring Garden and 13th street she used for stables. (There are still carriage tours offered at Old City by 76 Carriage Tours, which passed its stable inspections with flying colors).
"These horses will all end up in absolutely wonderful places for the rest of their lives," Christine Hajek, founder and president of Gentle Giants, previously told Metro after the agreement was reached just before the holidays. "First we get them healthy, then we evaluate them physically. Then we look at their training, determine what we think their next suitable job would be, and then we look for their next home. If that home never comes, they stay with us for the rest of their life."