Caleche drivers emotional on last day of business
Published Monday, May 23, 2016 5:19PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 23, 2016 6:24PM EDT
Monday was an emotional day for many of Montreal's caleche drivers, marking their last time on the road with their horses ahead of a one-year moratorium.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced the moratorium last week to study the health and safety of the horses and to determine if the city will continue or make alterations to the iconic industry.
Owners and drivers plan on taking legal action and will be holding a protest outside city hall Tuesday.
“It's our life. It's our way of living. It's our way of sharing our life with horses. It's the way to put food on our plates,” said stable owner Luc Desparois.
The ban follows several recent incidents of horses in distress.
Many of the drivers were emotional on their last day Monday, including Andre St-Amand, a caleche driver for 42 years.
He said at least business was good for the long weekend.
“I can't complain. (It was a) good weekend… but maybe the last day,” he said.
Several stables have offered to take in the horses, but some owners have refused.
“Somebody that offers to feed my horses for free sounds very generous to the public eye, but when he can't even say nice things about us, I would never trust my horse to go to a place like that,” said Desparois.
The SPCA said it will help place horses - but permanently.
“We are here to help work with the city and the carriage house owners to find permanent sanctuary and retirement, adoptive home for these horses,” said Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy for the SPCA Montreal. “We don't want them to continue to be exploited. We certainly don't want them to be sent to auctions.”
The city plans to have a decision on the industry once the moratorium expires in one year.