Philly City Council approves bill restricting horse-keeping

Finally, Philadelphia may soon leave the Victorian era when it comes to horse care.

Mayor Nutter will sign a bill that unanimously passed City Council that would require horse owners to have at least a half-acre of land, his spokesman said today.

That means no more horses tethered to chain link fences, holed up in abandoned houses or stuck in postage stamp-sized backyards.

Under the bill, which was sponsored Councilman Bill Greenlee and cleared Council on Thursday, equine owners would also have to get licenses and submit to inspections, reports my colleague Miriam Hill in today's Inquirer.

Greenlee introduced the bill in December, shortly after three horses and a dead pony were removed from a dilapidated building.

But that wasn't the only case. The Pennsylvania SPCA regularly rescues or seizes neglected and stray horses at the rate of between three and five a month. So far, in 2013 they've taken in six horses and their horse care facility in Danville is full, said PSPCA officials.

PSPCA president Jerry Buckley said his organization had advocated for the change for a long time.

Philadelphia has been one of the nation's few large cities without a law governing the keeping of horses, he said, and he hopes the new rules will save animals from neglect.

The PSPCA was founded 135 years ago to address the mistreatment of carriage horses.