Much scrutiny is being raised towards the long-standing Horse drawn carriage tours in the Tourism Sector particularly where the hub of those activities are prominent in Belize City. Of much contention is the revision for proper care of the animal Under the Cruelty to Animals Act, Chapter 115. Tonight, Reporter Maria Novelo visits the story in an effort to educate and raise awareness of what many people call an ‘inhumane’ practice in the Tourism sector.
Maria Novelo – Reporting
A leisure ride in a horse-drawn carriage around the core of Belize City is one of the longest-running tourist traditions in the country’s history. And while it is a major income earner for several families, many find the horse-carriage industry unsustainable as it is presently with its sub-standard practices. We spoke to several activists, concerned residents and animal lovers who weighed in on the issue.
RENALDO TREJO – Horse Trainer
“The organization that is running the business supposed to have more than one horse, so as to make a rotation with horses so you don’t stress the horse too much especially if they don’t put on their shoes to walk on the tar because we as race horses have shoes because that helps us in the gravitation in the horses performance especially in the tar, the horses are easily to slip if they don’t have on their shoes and it is more painful for them every day.”
“I have no problem with the horse and carriage in Belize as long as it is used in an appropriate manner, what I am seeing in Belize is the condition of the horses are below the required standard what I mean is that it appears that the animals are being used more than what they are bine fed and that causes the horse to be in a poor condition. Horses in that condition should not be working they should be given a vacation and fed until they have reached the condition for them to work and when a horse is fed properly and worked you will that it is reflected there because the exercise is good for the horse an if you are only feeing the horse and not exercising the horse then certainly he will be overweight and it may not be good for his health and so as long as the horses are being fed then I have absolutely no problem with it.”
ELISA CASTELLANOS – Concerned Resident
“I can’t say that I am completely against the horse drawn carriage, I don’t want to judge or advocate against somebody’s livelihood because I think it does generate income for people who are the owners but what I do suggest is that as a community and a government that we put down certain conditions and certain monitoring mechanism to monitor the wellbeing and the human treatment of these animals and there is a quote that say that how you treat animals that will show inherently if our character if good or bad.”
This week alone two horses have been involved in separate accidents. As a result, a petition to the Belize Tourism Board has been sent to enforce and prioritize their regulations for the carriage tours so that proper measures are implemented not only for the welfare of the horses but for the safety of the people on the narrow, congested streets of the city.
“I love this horse as any other human being because animals have feeling although they cannot speak to you to say you know what my feet hurts me or I feel tires or I need water or I need my stuff they cannot say that so that is the one taking care of the horse and you want they to be attentive to the horse as though you loving them so if you love and concerning to cruelty well people got to make money and it could let them live better because you could maintain them healthy and ones you take care of them they are strong animals they were built to work but not taking the advantage to over working the horses they can work certain limits but there are some people that push the horses to the limits and these horse making money for them.”
“That scares me you know if we look at sociology, social anthropology we look at how these trends will eventually cause consequences for us as a community, we are going to have a bunch of children who think it is ok to commit violence and that is where I have a problem with the horse and carriage system that we are so complacent with it, we’ve been complacent with it for such a long time so I am not against tit but I am not for it as it currently stands I really would like to see the government or even the Tourism Board, I think they took out a petition and it think that is a good step but it needs to be followed up.”
Maria Novelo for ctv3news!
Late this afternoon, The BTB issued a press release in regards to the accidents over the week. The release says ‘The BTB remains resolute in raising the standards of the micro-industry: to train the guides, and operators, in safety management as well as in providing the best care for these horses. The police department is investigating the accident and can be contacted for details revolving around cause & liability in the accident.
The Horse & Buggy Operations are regulated by the Belize City By-Laws, 2003, and subsequent Belize City (Horses and Carriages) (Amendment) By-laws, 2009. The BTB, since last year, in the interest of enhancing the quality and safety of tourism services, has provided training programs to operators on animal care; subsidizing veterinarians costs, and encouraged horse specialists in the country to actively sensitize them into raising the standards and care for their horses.
This is an ongoing process, and recently the Belize Humane Society and Animal Shelter also offered to subsidize veterinary costs for the horses engaged in tourism services. End of release.
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