Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The by-law needs to be changed

These are some pictures and a video that I took today in Old Montréal. Click on them to view.
It was very hot and humid this afternoon in Old Montréal - the temperatures reached and exceeded 30°C between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. although it felt like 40°C with the humidex.

Sadly, the calèches were out on the streets as the by-law 
concerning horse-drawn carriages states:
“An owner operator may not leave a horse hitched to a vehicle between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the outside air temperature, as determined by Environment Canada at the Dorval Weather Office, reaches or exceeds 30°C”.


The problem with the by-law is:
1) the temperature in Old Montréal exceeds that of Dorval. Which means when it's 30°C in Dorval, it's a least a couple of degrees higher in Old Montréal...just like today.
2) and that the humidex is not even factored in. 

The by-law obviously needs to be changed for the horses' well-being. Luckily, few tourists were in sight and none were lined up for a calèche ride due to the high temperatures.

Let's not sit and watch as another horse dies!


  1. My husband watched a horse collapse in the Old Port in 2010 of dehydration and exhaustion. Today (June 18th, 2011), I watched exhausted horses in near 30 degree weather harnessed so tightly with fancy ornamental harnesses, etc. that their skin was peeling. One of the horses seemed to be staggering, and its bit (is that the name?) was too tight--it was obvious. Yes, there were many horses that looked okay and young. But there were other older horses that were clearly in misery, and their grooming was atrocious--something very obvious even to those who know little about horses--they were simply not being taken care of. I am writing a letter to SPA Canada but please let me know who in Montreal I should contact. Could you please leave some info. here? I am very concerned and think it is criminal that tourists should take part in the unnecessary suffering of animals.

  2. Hi again, do you have a petition to sign on this issue? I encourage you to put one up on your site for people to sign. After what I saw today there is no excuse to keep this practice up in the city.

  3. Hi, thank you for your comment.
    You should contact the inspector of Old Montréal Alain Delorme 514-872-7815 or email him:
    Also call the police.
    A petition will be up by next week.

  4. Thank you so much for this information.
    I thank you for having this site and your efforts to keep this site going and I will send it on to others I know. It was one of the first sites I found when using the internet to find out what to do. What we witnessed yesterday was truly terrible.


  5. Hi Deborah, Thanks again for your concern regarding this issue and for forwarding it to others. I've just added more contact info on the right upper side, under the logo.

  6. I believe some tough regulations should be put in place for carriage operators and failure to adhere to these requirements should carry hefty fines.

    However, I see no freedom for horses in banning the industry.

    There will be 30 more horse owners who cannot pay for their horses. They may also be paying for horses in other stables with that money.

    Horses are expensive. They have no place left in the wild. What freedom?

    The Quebec harness racing industry already went under and I can't begin to express my sadness over the fact that so many horses were sent for slaughter.

    Too many horses are being sent for slaughter. We should be taking care of them, not chiping pieces away from the industry that feeds them.

    However, it does seem to me that the city of Montreal does nothing to protect the conditions of those horses (such as ignoring demands from drivers to change the carriage route) and that is not acceptable. To me that is the battle worth fighting.

  7. Hi,I agree that we should be taking care of the horses. But nobody is!
    If there were tougher regulations who would be making sure they are respected? Where are the inspectors?
    Where are the citizens speaking up for the horses if they really care? It's under everyone's nose! Not hidden in some Berger Blanc shelter where no one can see...It's right there in the streets under the hot sun, in the noisy traffic. An environment where the horses do NOT belong! Keeping them there is not in their best interest.
    Unfortunately, this industry does not feed them as you assume - most of the horses don't get enough food, water and rest.
    And yes, there are and there CAN be better options for horses if we all join forces and really start caring for them. I think you should look into the matter more seriously.

  8. I have just returned from a week-long agricultural college in the U.S. where horse care and treatment were part of the curriculum. Here, upon my return to Montreal, I witnessed with my own eyes the blatant suffering of these horses in the Old Port who were clearly in many cases exhibiting signs of the following: exhaustion, dehydration, hyperthermia, and physical over-exertion beyond their capacity carrying obese passengers in old, outdated equipment and blinders that were too constrictive or harnesses too small. One older horse (that looked as if it had not been groomed in a decade) was literally staggering. After my brief training (as well as growing up on a farm), I know first hand that horses love physical exercise and working: in fact, activity is a huge part of their well-being! But they must be constantly cared for by their humans. They must be hydrated constantly on hot days according to their individual body weight. They must be fed properly; and if they are being fed dry feed like grains (with no water content unlike fresh grasses) they must be hydrated even more. Furthermore, the horses I saw in Montreal were left out in the sun for intervals that were way too long for an animal needing shade and rehydration as much as horses do. Leave a horse in a sunny field and they will search for shade. What is happening in Montreal and Quebec City to these industry horses is utter, blantant cruelty. If the city was stricter at enforcing animal/horse welfare laws and owners were taking responsibility and were trained horse people, we would be faced with a different situation where it is possible that my own, personal desire to explore the possibility of banning this industry might not be as strong. In fact, if there was some ethical and sustainable horse-caleche industry that operated in a pedestrian-only area of the city with softer or grassy terrain, and which took care of their horses properly and perhaps used 2-horse and buggy carts as a touchstone for educating the public about horses, horse care, and animal welfare, I might even be supportive of such an endeavour. But this is not the case. Until this industry is banned you are right: we should all be putting pressure on inspectors and the city to take better care of the horses that are part of this existing industry. If it is possible to keep the industry going in an ethical way that secures the welfare of these horses, great. But banning the industry has been one of the only viable solutions in other cities (like Paris or Toronto, etc), because it is clear that the industry and its participants have absolutely no interest in horse care and welfare: this is a tourist money grab and the welfare of the horses has clearly never been part of the equation, nor has their been any precedent of care in the industry: it just simply doesn't exist. As someone with a farming background who believes that farm animals can and often enjoy meaningful lives as part of the agricultural work chain (herding dogs, horses for herding sheep, etc). and often enjoy their work when they are given the quality of life they deserve and the ability to socialize with one another (horses themselves have a herding instinct), I am still appalled by this industry and cannot believe it has been allowed to continue in its present form. I don't want horses to be sent to slaughter (and in fact their are horse rescue organizations in Quebec who would probably chomp at the bit to welcome retired work horses). So to me, despite my background and love of working with animals who have working roles, banning the industry is looking pretty good about now.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree on everything you say, except I don't consider animals intended for work. Of course there are activities that are enjoyable and not abusive, but not always. Animals would do anything to please us. Mirella

  10. Hi and thanks for your response.
    I totally respect your opinion about working animals. I have a slightly different opinion about *some* animals in certain working environments, but even with this difference, I hope you understand that I fully support what you and others are doing here, and I believe that *the city is not the place for these horses*. I hope that others see that even people like me--who have worked with animals--are in support of banning caleches. It is unacceptable and fully cruel to the horses and therefore I agree that horses are not intended for this work. Thank you and in solidarity.

  11. Hi, no worries, it was clear that your approach would be in respect of the animals.
    If you wish to contact us privately and remain anonymous please do so at our email address. We need more horse experts who are against this industry to defend ourselves from the aggressive caleche drivers sustaining they have 17 yrs experience working with caleche horses that they know what's right b/c they love the horses, without this work the horses wouldn't be fed, would be dead...and so on. So we are always in need of advice and support. Thanks.