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1,000 Sign Petition To ‘Stop Abuse’ Of Carriage Horses

By DANA SMITH

Tribune Staff Reporter

dsmith@tribunemedia.net

MORE than 1,000 people from around the world have signed a petition calling on the Bahamian government to ‘stop the abuse’ of the country’s carriage horses.

The petition’s creator and local horse trainer, Paula Caruana said yesterday she doesn’t necessarily want to ban the surrey industry but simply have it better regulated by the government.

Ms Caruana’s internet-based petition was inspired by the recent public death of a surrey horse which outraged many and spurred calls for an investigation into the working conditions of the horses.

The 22-year-old female horse, named Bloody Mary, was drawing a yellow and blue surrey near the corner of Dowdeswell and Christie Streets on Tuesday afternoon when it collapsed.

Witnesses said tourists were in the carriage and following the horse’s collapse, the animal was tied to the back of a truck and dragged out of the street – reportedly at the insistence of the police.

Ms Caruana said she never expected her petition, which has gathered signatures from Vietnam to Poland, to get as big as it has.

“I decided to do it because so many people have tried before and the problem is they’ve been doing it by themselves. What I would like to do is try and get a campaign together, not necessarily to ban them, but to get the government to support them a little more,” she said.

Her petition asks the government to ‘stop this brutality’ and enforce stricter legislation, such as an Animal Rights Bill, to regulate the conditions of the industry and the health of the animals.

The petition also criticises the downtown Nassau route the carriages take.

“Horses (are) made to work in horrendous heat through the polluted and crazy streets of Nassau with no food or water and no conditions for up to eight hours a day,” the petition claims.

Ms Caruana said yesterday she hopes the route could be changed.

“I mean really what do the tourists get out of it, going downtown in all this traffic, breathing in all the fumes?” she said.

“They’re not seeing the real Bahamas and it’s a shame because The Bahamas has so much to offer and it’s such a beautiful place.

“We need to encourage the government to help these guys to perhaps move their location somewhere better.”

The horses’ stable conditions have been criticised by animal rights groups, and Ms Caruana suggests there should be another location to house the animals.

“I think there should be a place where a small barn could be built to house these horses - where they get food, water and shelter. Where they have a bed for the night and there is somebody who’s employed to look after these horses, to make sure that they’re cared for,” Ms Caruana said.

“I’m not saying that every single surrey horse is in a really bad way and I’m not saying every surrey horse does not have a good bed... One of the comments on the petition was from a surrey owner who said he was embarrassed, ashamed to be a surrey owner at this time.”

Better veterinarian care and ensuring the horses’ health are adequate before they are cleared to work are also suggestions.

“Yesterday it was she (Bloody Mary) died of old age, today it’s she had a heart condition. Well why is the horse out there? Why is the horse not being vetted before it goes out? If that horse had a heart condition then she shouldn’t have been on the road doing the amount of work that she was doing,” Ms Caruana said.

She says her petition is not aimed at completely stopping the industry or attacking surrey owners but instead is aimed at calling attention to the conditions of an industry which she and many others feel is often overlooked.

“I think too many people are just jumping on the bandwagon to ban these horses and I don’t think it’s all about just the surrey drivers.

“There are a lot of people involved who are to blame for the conditions, a lot of people who can do things to regulate it and there’s nothing really being done,” she said.

“I understand the government wants to keep it going and so does the Ministry of Tourism but they really need to support these guys in doing it... I have so many ideas about how this could work if they get the support of the government.

“This horse that died is not the first and if we don’t do something she won’t be the last.”

As of Friday afternoon, the ‘Stop ABUSE of Carriage Horses in the Bahamas’ petition had 1,110 signatures.

Comments

TalRussell 5 years, 7 months ago

Comrades while I am not yet ready, just yet, to call for the speedy outlawing of Horse Drawn Carriages in Bahamaland, it doesn't mean that while the wealthy have long ago replaced the use of horses for their transportation, still here we are in 2012, turning a blind eye to the daily mistreatment of horses being abused as a form of tourist; tour the neighborhoods transportation?

There must be strict licensing requirements on the care and treatment of horses, their ages, and health standards, to even be allowed to hook-up any horse to a buddy to haul our tourists around Nassau Town.

Outside of where you can park your carriage to collect your tourist fares I am open to be educated on what other enforcements apply to the carriage owners? And, parking them to stand in the blistering Bahamaland sun, for hours upon hours, is an crime in itself.

Comrades "British Subjects" I know you colonialist die-hard's are so fond of visiting and doing ya little waltz dances before the statue of Queen Victoria in Parliament Square, she hasn't reigned over Bahamaland since 22 January 1901.

Comrades our tourist industry is facing it's share of troubles, even without such an disturbing photograph of a tourist horse dropping dead on a Nassau Street, now being circulated around the world. An innocent horse having to die, all in the line-of-duty to earn his owner a few pieces of silver.

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TalRussell 5 years, 7 months ago

There sits the old Queen as she royally watches over her loyal subjects and their horse drawn tourist buggies.

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banker 5 years, 7 months ago

Bahamians as a rule have a very poor record of animal treatment. Look at the proliferation of feral, wild potcakes. When one drives on Yamacraw Road or points south, it is not unusual to see dead potcakes on the road, killed by cars.

The horses are mistreated as well. They are skinny, malnourished and forced to work in the heat of the day while their owners flout the rules of not driving them during the hot hours. I checked and half of the watering apparatus at the horse stalls at Prince George Wharf doesn't work.

Surely we can find another means of revenue generation that does not involve cruelty to animals.

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Colebrooke 4 years, 7 months ago

Horses are made to run wild and excercise daily eat healthy and also alot of water to drink, if they don't get the right treatment they die.the Bahamas sun is to hot for horses to be running around, they need shelter from the sun.to accommodating horses in our country and not profit from it is really not a good idea. What are the benefits of a pasture for the horses, who is going to provide food etc. The horse has to bring in an income just like the Bahamains do, taking on that responsibility is expensive. Maybe we can decide to agree on using the horses for a school curriculum, teaching our kids to ride horses as a sport.

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