Quebec City calèche accidents renew calls for carriage ban

There are renewed calls to ban horse-drawn carriages in Quebec following two accidents in the provincial capital over the weekend.

One Quebec City horse fell to the ground and lay there for two hours

The two accidents in Quebec City Saturday are the latest in a series of incidents putting an unflattering spotlight on the industry. (Radio-Canada)

There are renewed calls to ban horse-drawn carriages in Quebec following two accidents in the provincial capital over the weekend.

A long-standing petition to ban calèches in Quebec City got thousands more signatories after Saturday's incidents, and now has more than 34,000 signatures.

In one incident, a horse tripped, fell and lay on the ground for two hours. The vet who examined her, Vicky Girard, said the animal was dehydrated.

"We re-hydrated her. We injected her with adrenaline to help her get back up," said Girard. "The mare will rest for three weeks."
On Saturday afternoon, a horse pulling a carriage in Quebec City tripped, fell and lay on the ground for two hours. The vet who examined her, Vicky Girard, said the animal was dehydrated. 0:19

They haven't determined yet if she'll be going back to work.

In the second incident, a horse appeared to get spooked, turned off the pavement and ran its carriage onto the grass.

Controversial industry

The calèche industry has been controversial in the province for the last few years. High-profile accidents in Montreal led to an attempt by Mayor Denis Coderre to ban the practice last spring.

But a Quebec Superior Court slapped an injunction on the proposed municipal regulation, which Coderre then decided not to challenge.

In Montreal, tourists appeared to be divided on whether to ban calèches altogether, as Toronto did in 1998.

Chinwe Onwubolu, visiting from Toronto, told CBC News that she has no qualms about sitting in a horse-drawn carriage.
Witnesses say the horse pulling the carriage tripped and fell on the ground. (Marie-Maude Pontbriand/Radio-Canada)

"They're so old fashioned, they've always been around," she said. "It's like a piece of history. It's something different, right? And you don't see it all the time. It shows the richness of Montreal."

Others, though, see the practice as inhumane. 

"I'm strictly against it," said Jasnwt Randhawe. "I'm a vegetarian, I don't like to hurt animals. It's difficult for them to move on the roads."​​

SPCA decries horses' 'suffering'

The Montreal SPCA is continuing to lobby against the use of horse-drawn carriages as a tourist attraction.

"It's actually horrible to hear about horses suffering in that manner, but I have to say we're not surprised," said Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA.

"Every single year we hear of a number of accidents in Montreal and elsewhere where this antiquated industry is still in place," she said.

With files from Kate McKenna


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