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Protesters aim to curb carriage rides

Aug 08 2012
Al Reford, horse advocate, wants an end to horse labour, as he protests on Belleville Street 

Al Reford, horse advocate, wants an end to horse labour, as he protests on Belleville Street

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (August 7, 2012)

A handful of animal-rights activists took to the Inner Harbour on Tuesday to protest Victoria's horse-drawn carriage industry, in the wake of an incident last week that injured a tourist.

A woman was taken to hospital Aug. 1 after a horse pulling a carriage was spooked and dumped her and two others in Chinatown.

On Tuesday, protesters stood on the corner of Belleville and Menzies streets - where most of the carriage companies have stalls - and handed out pamphlets.

The group collected about 2,500 signatures on a petition to ban all horse-drawn carriages in Victoria.

The protest was organized by David Shishkoff, Canadian representative for the U.S.-based nonprofit Friends of Animals, who said he's been petitioning for six years for the city to ban the industry.

"A city environment is no place for a horse," said Shishkoff, adding the horses owned by the carriage companies should be placed in a sanctuary where they can run free.

But Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, the company involved in the incident, stands by its business.

"I do not think it's dangerous for the people. I think if anything, it slows down traffic," said longterm employee Bruce Wright.

Wright said Tally-Ho's 15 horses are well taken care of and chosen for their temperament. The horses work about 80 days a year, Wright said, as the carriage tours don't usually run in the winter.

"Having worked here since 1964, I know the joy that this brings, especially to kids and the general public, how much they love to clip clop on a horse and see James Bay or the waterfront."

A young family from Toronto spoke to the protesters after checking out the horses on Menzies Street. Jolene Casella and husband Philip Brown, who hadn't planned to take a carriage ride, said it's hard for tourists visiting the city for only a short time to gauge how the horses are treated.

Protester Sarah Kramer, who owns a vegan store, said horses should not be used for labour.

Kramer suggested a temporary compromise, however, where carriages are confined to Beacon Hill Park, which is closed to cars.

"They do not belong in downtown traffic."

Wright said demonstrations like the one Tuesday don't affect Tally-Ho Carriage Tours' sales.

mkaralis@timescolonist.com

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