04/14/14 Carriage Horses as Tourist Attraction
City of Zagreb
Mr. Milan Bandic, Mayor
Trg Stjepana Radica 1
April 14, 2014
Subject: Carriage Horses as Tourist Attraction
Dear Mr. Bandic,
We are writing to you regarding the proposal to the City Assembly for introduction carriage horses as tourist atraction in Zagreb.
We turn to you for your help, as a known animal protector and lover who has always been ready to show compassion and understanding for those in the need of protection from our whole society, appealing to the city authorities to abandon this proposal and voting on decision for introducing carriage horses in the city of Zagreb.
We use this occasion to introduce you with a few important facts why we ask for your help. While argumenting our reasons we primarily used the experience of New York City, metropolis which is the most popular tourist destination in the world and whose mayo Bill de Blasio works on abolishing carriage horses as "tourist attraction" in New York.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Carriage horses are out of place in town's congested streets and belong to another century when there were far fewer vehicles and pedestrians. When hansom cabs are mixed with cars, taxis, buses, pedestrians, bikes and emergency vehicles – fire trucks, ambulances and police cars – they are a recipe for disaster. Over the years, there have been many accidents in New York where both horses and people have been seriously injured and some in which horses have died.
DRIVING HORSES TO ILL HEALTH: The average working life of a carriage horse on NYC streets is under four years compared to horses at freedom whose life is about 20 years. On the streets, these horses are constantly nose-to-tailpipe and often show corresponding respiratory impairment. In a study by veterinarian Jeffie Roszel, "tracheal washes and samples from respiratory secretions of these horses showed enormous lung damage, the same kind of damage you would expect from a heavy smoker." Horses' nostrils are usually only 3 to 3 1/2 feet above street level, so these animals are "truly... living a nose-to-tailpipe existence."
INHUMANE CONDITIONS: Horses must work in hot humid temperatures and in the brutal cold – nine hours a day, seven days a week and go back to stuffy stable where they have no opportunity for turnout. Carriage horses also routinely suffer at the hands of poorly trained drivers. Because they are constantly walking and standing on hard streets, "lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable" in carriage horses. Many drivers don't know how to fasten harnesses correctly, and either leave straps so loose they rub and chafe the horse's skin, or buckle the straps so tightly they pinch. Conditions for carriage horses aren't much better when the horses are off the streets. Stables are often with no hay or other bedding, stall floors are covered with urine and manure, ventilation in the stables is poor and horses have no free access to water. When these horses are no longer fit to work the streets, they are "retired" and many go to the slaughterhouse.
IMPOSSIBLE TO ADEQUATELY ENFORCE: Animal protection inspectors obligated to work on horse cruelty issues are not able to do so because they are involved in other animal protection issues, both locally and nationally. This is impossible to ensure.
IMMORAL INDUSTRY: Many people feel that the carriage horse is from another century, is exploited for profit and forced to live and work a very grueling existence in modern day city – all for profit and for a relatively few number of tourists. This form of "entertainment" is exploitative and is comparable to animal circuses.
ENVIRONMENT: Besides the humane issue that compel many people to object to the carriage horse trade, there is also the pervasive smell of horse feces and urine that permeates the streets. Even when the horses are not on the hack line, the unpleasant smell is always there.
BAD TOURISM: Tourists come in the city for the restaurants, hotels, night life, the shopping, cultural sites, the excitement... It is preposterous to believe that tourists need carriage horses. The costs of street cleanup; enforcement issues and quality of life of horses issues cannot justify the tourist offer which due to the bigger opposition of the public worldwide become the old-fashioned tourism of shame and cruelty instead of the real attraction.
Many horses who end up pulling carriages through city streets are "breakdowns." Horses are often trained to race by being tethered to the back of a truck that drives increasingly faster, or are on a similar way prepared for life on the street which is not a pleasant place for them. Horses love grass and are not accustomed to pulling heavy loads, their presence in the city center is intentionally exposure of those sensitive animals to constant stress and cruelty. When horses can no longer pull heavy carriages, they are sold often without knowledge where and how they end up.
Even for healthy horses, a carriage ride is not an easy trip. It is almost impossible to determine minimal regulations governing working conditions for carriage horses, and these regulations are rarely enforced. Many horses work many hours a day, often in extreme weather conditions.
In summer months, horses suffering from dehydration or heat stress can die in just a few hours. Some cities outlaw carriage rides when the temperature reaches a certain degree, but often the official weather bureau reading does not accurately reflect the temperature on the streets. The actual asphalt temperature can be as twice as higher.
ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN: Horses and heavy city traffic can also be a deadly mix. Despite some claims, most horses are not comfortable working among cars and trucks and reactions can be unpredictable. Many accidents, injuries, and even deaths - to horses and humans - have been caused by horses becoming "spooked" in traffic. It is normal for horses to react to threatening situations with panic and flight. A survey of carriage horse accidents in the United States revealed that 85 percent of all accidents were the result of an animal spooking. Seventy percent of the time there was a human injury, and 22 percent of the time there was a human death. The survey also found that in New York City 98 percent of the horses who "spooked" became injured. Injuries and fatalities resulting from collisions between cars and carriage horses have occurred in almost every city that allows carriage rides.
UNSTABLE CONDITIONS: Conditions for carriage horses aren't much better when the horses are off the streets. Stalls are often with no hay or other bedding, stall floors are covered with urine and manure, ventilation in the stables is poor, and horses have no free access to water or have not enough space to move.
IT ISN'T ROMANTIC, NOR MODERN: People around the world agree and are increasingly recognizing that it's the carriage horse industry - not just the horses - who are taking them for a ride. Pressure from concerned residents has resulted in bans on carriage horses in a growing number of cities, including Palm Beach, Florida; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; London; Paris; and Toronto; and New York City is also intruducing this ban.
After here presented arguments and experience of the New York City and other cities of the world, we ask you again to use your positive influence and help the City of Zagreb to remain recognized as the city which protects and love horses. We would be happy to meet with you personally to discuss this issue at your convenience.
With best regards,