Victoria Horse Alliance has brought forward many concerns to the City of Victoria regarding the operation of the horse-drawn carriages. This video is of Jordan Reichert of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada and spokesperson for the Victoria Horse Alliance speaking to Victoria City Council on the ethical imperative they have to take action on this issue based on the concerns of animal cruelty and exploitation raised. We must not be misled by our own subjective ideals of a romantic industry, but challenge them with evidence and objectivity.
Victoria City Council is responsible for enacting bylaws that protect the health, safety, and integrity of both the animals and people living in Victoria, as well as those who visit here. Victoria horse carriages undermine every aspect of these considerations and so the Victoria Horse Alliance works to educate council about the concerns brought forward against this inhumane industry.
Thus far, council has been relatively quiet about this divisive issue in our community. While some councillors, including the mayor, have spoken both for and against a phasing out of the industry. It appears that council is divided on the issue. However, it is our position that the horse carriages are a direct contravention of the City’s own bylaw banning animal performances and that addressing concerns of animal cruelty should be their utmost priority. Perception by some of horse carriages as aesthetically pleasing or bringing tourists to the City are completely subjective and not grounds for continued exploitation and inhumane treatment.
Based on our concerns, you can write Victoria City Council to let them know that you do not support this inhumane industry and that you want them to phase out and ban the horse carriages. Click here to go to their contact page.
A letter of indifference
After the release of our 28 page report on the horse carriages to Victoria Mayor and Council, this was the form letter sent out to citizens, from the City, who had written to voice their concerns. It no where addresses the concerns raised in our report or the documented evidence that we supplied to the City of inhumane care for the horses. What it does do is dismiss any concerns we brought forward and paints a false image of the horse carriage industry in our city as perfectly fine and well regulated. In one part it even states that:
We have not received any complaints or witnessed any behaviours that could lead to revoking a business license, for either of the tour operators in Victoria, in the past five years.
This despite numerous collisions having taken place over the past 5 years with the carriages endangering the lives of both the horses and citizens.
We are left only to conclude that those on council who support the horse carriages took part in framing this formal letter to concerned citizens with an interest of serving private carriage operators interests over animal welfare and public safety concerns. You can read the letter for yourself below.
It is our opinion that this is a gross misuse of power and an injustice to the horses who are the ones who will suffer the most.
Thank you for your email regarding horse-drawn carriages. Your email has been shared with Mayor and Council.
The City of Victoria takes the health and well-being of animals very seriously. The Vehicles for Hire Bylaw sets out a number of licensing and operating requirements that all horse-drawn vehicle operators must comply with. These rules are designed to ensure both public safety and the welfare of the animals. Annual inspections performed by veterinarians, the SPCA and the City’s business licence inspector have indicated that the horses involved in this activity are appropriately cared for and fit for use in the operation of horse-drawn vehicles.
Part 4 of the Vehicles For Hire Bylaw (pg. 17, available here) provides information as to how the City monitors and enforces proper health and safety of the animals. Specifically, each horse must be examined twice annually by a qualified, registered veterinarian to determine whether the horse is fit to be used in the operation of a horse-drawn vehicle, and have the SPCA conduct evaluations throughout the year to verify the living conditions of the horse and determine the conditions do not cause the horse to be in distress. Both of these definitions (fit for use, and not causing distress) are determined by the veterinarian and SPCA official, as professionals in their fields. The veterinarian and SPCA evaluations must be provided to the City’s Licence Inspectors.
Our Licence Inspectors take all reports of concerns and complaints very seriously. We have not received any complaints or witnessed any behaviours that could lead to revoking a business license, for either of the tour operators in Victoria, in the past five years. We do, however, continue to monitor the animals and work with the carriage operators on any issues requiring improvement.
Presentations To Victoria City Council
Jordan Reichert of Victoria Horse Alliance addresses concerns of corruption within council to protect the horse carriage industry from being banned.
Corie Kielbiski of the Victoria Horse Alliance speaks about her experience living around horses in the Okanagan and how out of place they are in the city. Horse carriages are not transportation, they are animal performances for tourists and this is animal exploitation.
David Budd sits as a Regional Director on the BCSPCA Board of Directors. He presented to Victoria City Council as an individual and in support of the work of the Victoria Horse Alliance.
David spoke to the need for Council to separate the fantasy of romantic horse carriages from reality of a animal welfare and community safety issue..