India’s Renowned Equine Veterinarians: Ban is Only Option for Horse-Drawn Carriages in Mumbai

For Immediate Release:
4 September 2012

Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]
Sarfaraz Syed; [email protected]

Equine Experts, Non-Governmental Organisations Join PETA at News Conference to Show New Photos and Video Footage Proving Need for a Ban

Mumbai – Representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and Animal Rahat, a panel of India’s most renowned equine veterinarians – who together have more than 32 years of experience addressing India’s most challenging equine welfare issues – came together with Mumbai for Horses and People for Animals on September 4th 2012 to make the case that the only way to stop the abuse and suffering of horses used to pull carriages through the streets of Mumbai and avoid the traffic hazards they cause is to enact an all-out citywide ban on Victorias.

The news conference was called following an interim order of the Bombay High Court that currently illegal stables and drivers be licensed and that unhealthy horses be confiscated, treated and returned to the streets. Three equine experts – Dr Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs for PETA India and a member of the Animal Welfare Board of India; Dr Avinash Kumar, a leading equine veterinarian who has worked for equine welfare charity The Brooke, and Dr Chetan Yadav, an equine veterinarian and leading animal welfare specialist working for Animal Rahat – presented graphic, never-before-seen photos and video footage proving that keeping horse-drawn carriages on the roads would only ensure that the cycle of abuse continues. The experts also explained that passengers, drivers and pedestrians are injured and even killed when horse-drawn carriages are involved in accidents.

“Enacting a complete ban on horse-drawn carriages is the only way to protect the welfare of animals and ensure the safety of the people of Mumbai”, says Dr Valliyate. “Major cities around the world have banned these cruel and dangerous relics of the past, so why can’t Mumbai? Forcing horses to spend their lives on pavement causes various foot diseases, with many horses visibly having difficulty walking because of severely swollen joints. Halfway measures will do nothing to protect these abused and overworked animals.”

Dr Valliyate also pointed out that forcing horses to spend their entire lives on pavement – when they are meant to walk on grass – is inherently cruel. He explained that once horses lose function in a joint, as quickly happens when they’re made to walk on pavement or haul heavy loads, more stress will be placed on the other joints, tendons and ligaments. As a result, the healthy parts of the legs are subjected to wear and tear, eventually leading to inflammation of all the joints, tendons and ligaments. He also explained that no veterinary medicine or surgery can cure this condition and that it cannot be reversed.

The equine veterinarians pointed out that any move to issue licences to the city’s currently filthy, decrepit and illegal stables could subject the horses to various infectious diseases – such as glanders, strangles, tetanus and equine influenza – and cause many animals to die. An outbreak of glanders, which is transmissible to humans and causes death, was reported in Pune, Maharashtra, in 2006. If such an outbreak were to occur in Mumbai, it would put citizens at risk. PETA India shared this information with the Municipal Commissioner during a recent meeting.

Furthermore, despite an order from the Bombay High Court that non-governmental organisations be permitted to inspect horses for signs of poor health or compromised welfare and report the matter to an executive health officer and despite holding written authorisation from the Animal Welfare Board of India – a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests – to conduct such an inspection, a team of equine veterinarians from PETA and Animal Rahat recently was harassed and prevented from conducting inspections of the horses used to haul carriages in Mumbai by the carriage owners and drivers and their lawyer.

Horses used to pull carriages are routinely forced to haul more passengers than the legal limit allows, toil in all weather extremes and work even when lame or injured. They are denied adequate rest, food, water and veterinary care and kept in filthy, damp stables that are infested with biting insects and strewn with faeces.

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