City clears owner after dead horse found in Englewood, politicians call for ban

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CHICAGO — Several Chicago alderman are calling for changes to city ordinances after a horse was found dead in Englewood over the weekend.

Chicago police and Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) found two horses in a yard near 61st and Carpenter Saturday, one of them deceased, after receiving multiple calls requesting well-being checks on the animals.

Despite posts on social media, CACC said in a statement the animals appeared to be in decent shape, and the deceased horse's owner provided proof that it had been to the veterinarian recently. Animal owner Leo Beltran took the surviving horse back to his farm Monday afternoon.

"The animals found at that location did not present any sign of mistreatment, they were not emaciated, nor were there any signs of poor health," the statement said. "It is legal to keep a horse in the City of Chicago as long as the animals are licensed and receive proper care."

Alderman Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) was among those criticizing CACC in the wake of the dead horse's discovery, and reiterated early claims of a "gruesome" scene. The alderman claims the city has received complaints about the horses going back to summer.

"Our laws are so vague as far as what people can own, and now we see the prevalence of urban farming and people trying to be more holistic with growing their own foods," said Lopez. "We're seeing a surge of new animals coming into an urban environment."

Beltran said he his goal was just to take care of the animals, not to start a farm in the city.

"What other people are saying, and making up stories, they don't know how my life is. I love animals. I love horses," Beltran said.

Beltran says claims that his dog was eating the dead horse are "outrageous," and in its statement the CACC agreed. The agency also confirmed that multiple citations had been issued over issues connected to the horses, but they had "since been corrected."

Still, Ald. Stephanie Coleman said there are few restrictions in owning livestock, including horses, goats, chickens and pigs.

Coleman released a statement, saying in part, "Farm animals like horses, goats and sheep belong in open pastures out in rural areas, not on residential streets of Englewood or any part of this city.”

Coleman said she wants answers from animal control on whether the owner has a valid horse license, which is $25 a year.

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