SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah business owner who drew criticism after his carriage horse collapsed in downtown Salt Lake City is now under fire for waiting several days to report that the animal died.
Carriage for Hire owner Blaine Overson said the 13-year-old horse named Jerry died Friday of colic, six days after the animal collapsed while pulling a carriage near Temple Square.
Word that the horse died prompted the Utah Animal Rights Coalition to call for a "Justice for Jerry" vigil and a demonstration on Tuesday evening at the Salt Lake City Council meeting. The group wants a ban on horse carriages on the streets of Salt Lake City.
Overson told KSL-TV that he and his wife and business partner, Annette Overson, cried over the loss. They blamed colic, a serious and sometimes fatal equine abdominal malady and insisted that their 17 carriage horses are treated well.
"I'm not going to convince PETA that we treat Jerry like one of our children," Blaine Overson told the Salt Lake Tribune. "There's no way I could get them to understand that. But we do."
Animal-rights advocates claimed the horse suffered from working in 100-degree temperatures. A witness video of the horse struggling to stand up after his collapse on Aug. 17 drew widespread attention.
South Mountain Equine veterinarian Lyle Barbour, who was not treating Jerry, told the Tribune that colic usually strikes suddenly and can kill within a week.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesman Jeremy Beckham called for the Oversons to release veterinary and post-mortem records on the horse.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker released a statement Monday criticizing the Oversons for failing to release information about the horse's death "in a timely manner."
Becker has said he supports Councilman Charlie Luke's call for an investigation and a review of city law allowing horse-drawn carriages downtown.
Luke said Blaine Overson confirmed Jerry's death after Luke asked to see the animal.
The council member cited turmoil that erupted after Annette Overson sent photos to the media of another horse.
Annette Overson had said Jerry was moved for treatment to a location outside Salt Lake City because she and her company received threats.