For years now, the horse carriage operators in Victoria have been exposed for treating the animals in their care inhumanely, outside of the general practice of putting horses in the streets with traffic. Every time new evidence comes forward regarding the welfare of the horses or reckless business practices regarding the operators, this information is passed onto the public.
Often the public asks the Victoria Horse Alliance to share their photos and videos because they are concerned about harassment by the carriage operators and their supporters. We are happy to be this in-between because we value the safety of people who want to speak up to protect animals in our community. However, we recently had a concerned former carriage driver come forward about the welfare of the horses from their first-hand experience of working with them. While we had heard concerns from horse carriage employees before, this individual was much more direct in their condemnation of the industry.
These are the concerns they have raised:
- 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.”
This information was shared with Victoria Horse Alliance to bring forward publicly under the condition of the former driver’s anonymity. This is understandable, as there is evidence of the equine community attacking their own when anyone speaks against the use of horses in various for-profit industries such as horse-carriages. It takes great courage for an individual to reach out to an organization opposed to an industry they previously worked for and we greatly appreciate their concern for the horses, which compelled them to speak up. We hope that more drivers will come forward with their concerns and we will assure them the same anonymity we have extended to this individual.
We hope that residents, tourists, and the city of Victoria will take seriously these allegations against the horse carriage operators for the sake of the welfare of the horses. This is another significant piece of evidence in a substantial catalogue of complaints against the carriage companies. A cruelty complaint has been filed with the BC SPCA. These inhumane practices are absolutely unacceptable and we call on Victoria city council to take action to phase out the horse carriages immediately.
Any business, organization, or representative who publicly supports the horse carriages also supports the inhumane treatment of these animals in Victoria. Write mayor and council of Victoria here and tell them to take immediate action to phase out the horse carriages. Also contact the Downtown Victoria Business Association and tell them to end their sponsorship of holiday horse drawn trolley tours here.
Victoria Horse Alliance
Cover image from Times Colonist archives: https://www.pressreader.com/canada/times-colonist/20100721/282376920858489