Horse Owners Refuse Veterinary Examinations Offered as a Result of High Court Order, Fearing Exposure of the Appalling Condition of Animals

Posted on by Sudhakarrao Karnal

Horse and carriage owners refused to participate in a three-day veterinary health camp from 19 to 21 April, organised by the Animal Resources Development Department of the Government of West Bengal in association with PETA India and CAPE Foundation. Such resistance is part of a continuing pattern of reluctance on the part of horse carriage owners, presumably fearing that a detailed expert veterinary examination would again expose the deplorable conditions of the animals. The health camp was organised following an order issued by the Calcutta High Court on 5 April 2022 in response to a petition filed by PETA India and CAPE Foundation seeking the prohibition of the cruel and illegal use of horses for rides and to haul tourist carriages near Victoria Memorial. The court had considered two assessment reports submitted by the petitioners, which provided evidence of the suffering endured by the horses, such as severe injuries, malnourishment, and foot diseases. By not participating in the veterinary health camp, the horse owners continue to deny the horses even the most basic and essential care and act in a manner that disregards both government and court orders.

As per The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, it is the duty of the owner of any animal to take measures to ensure the well-being of the animal and it is a punishable offence to deny the animal veterinary care. Using injured and malnourished horses for carriage rides also violates the PCA Act, 1960. To protect public health, through an order dated 22 January 2013, the Calcutta High Court had directed that “measures be taken by the owners of each hackney carriage for removing dung excreted by the horses”. However, this direction was never implemented by the horse owners.

PETA India’s efforts to shut down Kolkata’s cruel horse-drawn carriage industry include working to establish a sanctuary for the rehabilitation of injured or malnourished horses, working with Kolkata police to register first information reports (FIRs) against horse owners for forcing debilitated, injured, or lame animals to work, and submitting its recommendations to the West Bengal government for a policy to end the use of horses for tourist rides. Following complaints by PETA India and CAPE Foundation, three FIRs have been registered against horse owners.

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