Latest mishap renews calls to re-examine caleche industry
The latest mishap involving a caleche-pulling horse on Montreal's city streets has animal advocates once again calling for an end to the practice.
On Wednesday morning a horse got away from its driver and ran through Griffintown, colliding with a car at the corner of Peel and Wellington Sts.
A veterinarian is supposed to examine the horse and determine if it was injured or can continue working.
Sterling Downey, the Projet Montreal critic for animal welfare, wants to know how the horse was able to run free on city streets.
He pointed out that, while waiting, horses are supposed to have their legs hobbled so they cannot easily walk or run.
“Right now, there are no consequences, there is no action. Right now, an incident happens, we react, we tweet about it, but it's a matter of time before there's an accident,” he said.
Projet Montreal has long opposed the centuries-old practice of having horses on city streets in Montreal, and wants to hold public hearings about the caleche industry. The party is also calling for sanctions against Lucky Luc, the largest caleche company in Montreal. The horse involved in Wednesday's incident came from that company.
In a phone interview, owner Luc Desparois said this was a minor incident and that the horse is fine. He also wouldn't get into why the horse and driver were separated in the first place, calling it “a silly mistake.”
The SPCA doesn't want to wait, and is calling for an outright ban on working horses.
Mayor Denis Coderre said he supports having caleches in Montreal, but he has no wish to see people or animals getting hurt.
"Caleches are part of Montreal's identity, but my patience has its limits," said Coderre.
Four years ago another horse ran off while pulling a caleche, colliding with a car and smashing the carriage to bits, while last year many people saw photos of a horse lying on a street after slipping on a metal plate.
"Sometimes the images are very strong and you have some people who say 'pull the plug,'" said Coderre.
"We already have a report that we're finalizing to analyze about the condition... The name of the game here, the bottom line, is the condition of the horse."
A report prepared last summer by veterinarians affiliated with the Université de Montreal showed that horses in Montreal are in much better health than they were in 2012.
Veterinarians visit the horses every week for two to three hours and subject 10 to 20 horses to a much more rigourous examination during each visit.