Victoria Horse Alliance, a community advocacy project of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, recently was provided with information regarding from a former carriage driver alleging inhumane treatment of the horses used by the horse carriage industry. While the Victoria Horse Alliance has brought forward many documented complaints of inhumane treatment of animals over the past couple years, this is the first time a driver has exposed the internal practices of the industry.
Specific complaints from the driver in their own words were the following:
- In their own words, they quit working for the carriage company “…because of the mistreatment of their animals…”
- In their own words, “I am tired of watching the company get away with overworking their horses without consequence.”
- They specifically name three horses: Ruby, Betty, and Grey Molly. All three of these horses over 30 years old and have been working downtown for years. These three horses are very “well behaved,” and so they are worked “double shifts.”
- One of these three, Betty, “she is starting to develop arthritis, which the company doesn’t manage properly so you may see her limping on her front end when she’s downtown.”
- They state one of the carriage operators have two horses each day that work a “swing shift,” which is a significantly longer shift than most other horses. These horses start around 11am and work until the company shuts down at night. Typically, this is a 12 hour shift.
- Other horses used in the morning shift will not be taken home, but will be kept in the pit (Ogden Point holding area) and used to pull trolleys until later in the evening. This often culminates in a 12+ hour day.
- Carriage operators “lie to customers and tells them the maximum any horse will work is an 8 hour shift in a day, which is absolutely not true for swing shift horses.”
- There is a black carriage used that “weighs about 3 times as much as every other carriage the company owns making it especially difficult for the horses to pull.” While there are some horses strong enough to pull it, weaker horses are often made to pull it as well “because customers like the way it looks.”
West Coast Campaign Officer and lead organizer for the Victoria Horse Alliance, Jordan Reichert, stated that this was unprecedented evidence of the inhumane treatment of animals within the Victoria horse carriage industry. “We have known this type of overworking and improper care have been taking place for a long time; however, the city has never taken steps to address our concerns. Hopefully this voice from inside the industry will compel them to act for the sake of the horses.”
Reichert presented to Victoria city council on Thursday evening and is awaiting a response from the city on this issue.
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