A petition to ban horse-drawn carriages in Victoria is gaining momentum.
In the past week, more than 700 people have signed the Victoria Horse Alliance’s petition calling on the City of Victoria to phase out horse-drawn carriages from downtown streets.
According to the petition, there is evidence of careless and reckless operation of the horse carriages by those driving them, that horses’ feet indicate improper and inadequate care, and evidence of improper maintenance of carriage equipment.
“I see this as animal exploitation. This is an explicit example in our society and local community of animals being used for entertainment and for profit,” said Jordan Reichert with the Victoria Horse Alliance. “I care genuinely about the long-term welfare of the horses and the fact that this industry perpetuates a desire to continue to breed animals just to be used and exploited in this way.”
The petition also states there have been more than 20 collisions involving horse-drawn carriages in Victoria in the last two decades.
In August 2012, a horse operated by Tally Ho Carriage Tours was bumped by a tour bus, sending it into a frenzy. The horse bucked, throwing the driver and one passenger off the carriage, while another passenger was left in the carriage as the horse took off in a gallop.
In a similar incident in 2014, a horse bolted down Government Street, injuring its driver and colliding with two cars and a motorcycle.
While there haven’t been any incidents involving trolleys this year, Reichert said Victorians are becoming more aware of companies that use animals for entertainment.
“The point is to send a strong message to city council that people in Victoria do support a ban and that it’s time for us to get the horses off the street,” Reichert said. “People are just more aware about animals issues and the fact that animals shouldn’t be used for entertainment anymore. When people see the horse carriages passing, they see those same ethical concerns.”
The group is calling for a phasing out of the horse carriage industry, to give the carriage operators time to transition the horses out of Victoria, leading to a natural ban effective Dec. 31, 2017.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she does not support the ban.
“Every year for as long as the horse-drawn carriages have been around, someone starts a petition to get rid of them and every year the horse-drawn carriage people say we treat our horses humanely and it just goes away,” Helps said. “I’m convinced the companies do a good job.”
She added she would like to see traffic slowed down to the speed of horses.
Owners from Victoria Carriage Tours declined to comment and no one from Tally-Ho Carriage Tours could be reached before the Victoria News went to print.