During the warm summer days, one of my favorite activities is to go on a stroll in Old Montreal. There’s so much to see and discover; rich historic architecture, art galleries, the Old Port’s clock tower beach, the Science Center and so much more!
However, my visits to this part of the city are always tainted by the resonating sound of hooves on the paving stones which remind me of what these horses are forced to endure. We often see horse-drawn carriages day and night, even on the hottest days of summer! These horses are made to work at all costs, regardless of heavy traffic or loud noises caused by cars or construction. It’s common for these horses to develop wounds over time as a result of standing up and constantly walking on hard surfaces or being injured by cars. On top of it, these animals are susceptible to respiratory problems caused by the inhalation of exhaust fumes throughout the day.
I’m in no way reassured by the City of Montreal’s new by-law which is meant to regulate this inherently inhumane industry. No amount of regulations will make the industry safe for horses and humans alike, as horses will continue being spooked by loud noises and exposed to fumes emitted by cars, particularly during the 375th celebrations of the city. Spending over $500,000 of our tax dollars to subsidize animal cruelty is an embarrassment to our supposed world-class city.
The romanticized image that the carriage horse industry and the City of Montreal are trying to sell us is far-fetched. Rather, the reality of these poor horses is filled with distressing sadness.
What would Old Montreal look like without carriage horses? The same, but infinitely better. By eliminating this cruel practice, the city would continue attracting tourists thanks to the effervescence of its visual arts, its music and cinema festivals, its gastronomy, parks and so much more!
This year, we celebrate our city’s 375th anniversary, so why not give ourselves the gift of entering the modern world once and for all? #stopcaleches
Marie-Noël Gingras works in the Department of Animal Advocacy at the Montreal SPCA. In the past few years, she has collaborated on numerous projects related to animal rights and welfare (the Vert et Fruité and Vegan Portraits blogs, the Montreal Vegan Festival), as well as collaborated with the Défi végane 21 jours book, published in spring 2016 (Éditions Trécarré). You can follow her on Facebook.