PETA Releases Damning Evidence Concerning Mumbai’s Horse-Drawn Carriage Business in Advance of High-Court Hearing

For Immediate Release:
11 December 2012

Sachin Bangera; [email protected]
Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]

Latest Investigation Shows – Once Again – That Attempts to Regulate Abusive Trade Have Failed and Only an All-Out Ban Will Stop the Suffering

Mumbai – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has just released the findings of its most recent investigation of Mumbai’s horse-drawn carriage industry, which once again documents in photos that sick, injured, overworked and undernourished horses are forced to live in atrociously filthy conditions. PETA’s report and photographs can be downloaded from here. The evidence was released just days after activists found two Victoria horses fitted with spiked bits in their mouths, which are illegal and used to control the horses, and right before the next High Court of Bombay hearing, which is set to take place on 13 December.

An earlier court ruling suggested that horses found to be unfit should not be used for drawing carriages again until a veterinary officer determines that they are fit. As PETA points out, though, the stables are in decrepit condition, and forcing horses to work in the congested city, hauling loads on pavement, deteriorates their physical and mental health. The following are just a few of PETA’s findings:
• Many horses were fitted with spiked bits, which cause their mouths to bleed. Horses were found with swollen lips and cuts in their mouths.
• Stables were found with various problems, such as poor ventilation and no drainage. The accumulated garbage, faeces and urine served as breeding grounds for flies, germs and disease. Food was often thrown on top of the horses’ own faeces.
• Most of the stables lacked any facility whatsoever for water, and horses were never given water between gruelling stints of pulling passengers. They are also starved while at work for up to 12 hours a day, even though their digestive systems require continuous feed intake in small quantities.
• Fatigued, overloaded horses were routinely whipped to make them move faster. Many drivers cover up the wounds using lime mortar, which acts as an irritant.
• Many horses’ joints were so sore or swollen that they continually lifted their legs off the ground in order to rest them.
• Most of the horses were found with drooping heads, a sign of severe depression.
• Drivers readily permit the overloading of their carriages.

Earlier this year, PETA Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate and other equine experts held a news conference, in which they also pointed out that forcing horses to spend their entire lives on pavement – when they are meant to walk on grass – is inherently cruel. Valliyate 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 their 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 also 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.

“A business based on the abuse of animals can never be regulated into legitimacy”, says Valliyate. “Delhi has banned cruel and dangerous horse-drawn carriages, and Mumbai must do the same.”

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