After a horse which was pulling a carriage (karozzin) dropped dead this week, the Commissioner for Animal Welfare, Emmanuel Buhagiar has called for stricter regulations against animal abuse. While many were expressing their outrage on social media because of this incident, the horse cabby drivers who spoke with TVM have claimed that the criticism being directed against them is unfair.
Mr Buhagiar believes that the authorities are not being harsh enough in their protection of animals.
In comments he gave to TVM, he mentioned as an example the suffering which horses which are taking part in races are going through, and he believes that steps should be taken to protect them from such cruelty.
“Now we are going to start with the Santa Maria horse races at 2pm in the afternoon which is definitely not a good time for them; it is not even good for human beings! In this case, for races there should be specific regulations which stipulate when and at what time horse races can be held, and there should be a vet present.”
Speaking about the case of the horse which dropped dead while going up Floriana hill, the Commissionar said that one cannot make a blanket condemnation on one or two cases, however he believes that there are practices which are causing a great deal of suffering to horses.
“They should not work between noon and 4pm….because that is the time when the sun is scorching, and this should form part of the regulations. There should also be daily inspections by the vet and animal welfare officers. It is worth mentioning that according to law, the police, wardens and Transport Malta officials, all have to adhere to this part of the law,” he added.
Over the last few hours, many people expressed their opinion about the Floriana incident, with some of them pointing their fingers towards the drivers, some of whom reacted to this criticism and the fact that they are using the horses even during heatwaves.
Horse cabby driver Dylan Micallef said, “these rides only last 20 minutes and the horse will be back in the shade…at the terminal, and the horse is kept under the tent with a bucket of water, so they really do not want for anything…and whoever is saying that we are abusing the horses does not know what they are talking about.”
Charles Barbara said “now instead of commenting on Facebook, which means nothing, why don’t they take €10 each and give a donation for the horses?”
The drivers who spoke to this newsroom denied that older horses are being forced to continue being used to pull the karozzini.
Driver Jimmy Buhagiar said, “a horse is stronger than a human being, just look at how tough his hide is..so does that mean a human being cannot cross the road in the sun? So you can imagine how much a horse can do.”
At the same time, the drivers recognize that there are those who do abuse the horses and said that these are isolated cases which they said can be addressed through the enforcement of existing regulations.
Dylan Micallef said, “they should see what the regulations are and improve them, and the first thing the Government should do is to increase the tents and increase the amount of water available for the horses.”
Representatives of the two main political parties and many animal activists have called for the revision of laws of how the karozzini operate.
Horse drops dead in Floriana – PS Camilleri proposes revision of operations of horse-drawn cabs