Sixteen members of an Amish community living around the Logan-Simpson county line attended the Jan. 13 Auburn City Council meeting to voice opposition to an amendment of one of the city’s ordinances, requiring collection bags to be placed on all horses that ride through town. A first reading was held Dec. 9.
The highly anticipated passing was tabled reluctantly, however, to allow the Amish one more chance to do the right thing and clean up their mess.
The council brought the amendment to the animal ordinance to the table due to numerous complaints over several years of horse droppings on the city streets. The amendment is to drop “collect” from the law, leaving only “capture.” This would mean, if passed, the Amish community would have to have collection devices (bags) on their horses when traveling through town. This is to permit any droppings from hitting the pavement.
“It can be dangerous to put catching devices on trotting horses as they will kick and run,” said Amos Mast, one of the Amish at the meeting.
Auburn Mayor Mike Hughes stated that he had researched cities with similar ordinances and sees the capture device is attached to the buggy rails, not the horse. Mast noted the crosspiece between the rails doesn’t leave enough space for anything else. “Some of the horses’ legs hit the axle when they run. Walking isn’t an issue but running is,” said Mast.
Hughes reminded the Amish in attendance that he had met with most of the older gentlemen over a year ago about collecting the droppings, but there was still a problem.
Abe Miller, another Amish gentleman at the meeting spoke saying he has a horse he has had for 15 years and one of the boys tried to teach it to have something on it so he tied a plastic bag to his tail. “The horse nearly ran himself to death in the field trying to get away from the bag,” said Miller.
Councilwoman Gayle Gregory said although she understands the Amish people are trying to do everything they can to live a lifestyle that goes smoothly, the city council has a job to do as well, and tries to make the city run smoothly.
“I drive horses for a lot of people and putting the horses near traffic will cause danger,” said Amish member Atlee Mast.
Councilman Shane Johnson reiterated that the council have asked the Amish to clean up the manure over a year ago with no real response.
“There is a problem and nothing has been done to find a solution,” said Johnson. “If I drove a truck down the road with trash flying out of the back I would get a citation and have to pay a fine.”
An unnamed Amish man spoke up saying he would not comply. Councilwoman Norma Kutzman pointed out the conflicting opinions among the Amish themselves. “One says he will do what he can, but others say no.”
Councilman Rex Evans said if the Amish could in good faith show that there is an effort being put forth it might make a difference. Evans made a motion to table the second reading of ordinance 2013-10, which passed with hesitation.
“I have a feeling we will be right back here discussing this issue again real soon,” said Kutzman.