Animal rights activists in Colombia’s Caribbean city of Cartagena have called for swift regulations to protect the city’s horses from being abused after another horse collapsed in the city’s streets, local media reported on Monday.
Members of the animal rights foundation, Angels with Paws, called for a quick end to the mistreatment of horses after witnessing a horse hauling a loaded carriage collapse in the streets that was overwhelmed from exhaustion and malnutrition, according to Barranquilla’s El Heraldo newspaper.
Authorities in Cartagena have recently sought to “regulate what had never been regulated. Set routes, regulate the operation of the stables and schedules and require a weight and height defined for the horses,” Cartagena Mayor Dionisio Velez told La Semana news magazine.
The regulations are set to be in place by December 2014; however, according to activists, these regulations cannot come fast enough.
Advocates for animal rights say that the city’s changes should be established by now and should not wait until the end of the year. These include standards for weight, length, and age for horses that carry heavy loads, according to Colombia’s La Semana news magazine.
Colombia’s national horse regulations
Cartagena’s horse care joins the list of major cities in Colombia that have started regulating the treatment of horses.
In March of this year, the Colombian Environmental Secretary announced that mistreatment of horses will result in arrest and fines.
House of Representatives member David Luna and Environmental Secretary Nestor Garcia announced that individuals found to be abusing horses will be subject to six months to a year in a jail and a fine equal to five times the commercial value of the horse.
“We will apply the Act 84 of 1989, which states that when the holder or possessor of an animal cannot provide the necessary means of subsistence, he will be obliged to put the animal into the care of the local mayor or police inspector. Failure to do so means that the owner or holder shall be liable to imprisonment and financial penalties,” said Garcia.
Last month, Colombia’s third-largest city pulled horses from their traditional annual festival and horse parade. The Cali Mayor’s Office said the horse element was withdrawn over concerns of excessive drinking and animal abuse.
In the past, the parade had approximately 3,000 horse riders and close to one million spectators on the three-mile route. However, chaos did unfold despite the fact that authorities moved the horse portion of the parade to the end; leaving abandoned horses and drunken horsemen in the streets.
In May of this year, Medellin, the country’s second-largest city announced the cancellation of their annual horse parade featured in their annual flower festival that takes place in August.
This was the first time in 28 years that the horse parade was kept off the agenda.
Luis Fernando Duque, a member of the festival’s organizing committee, told local newspaper El Colombiano that the event had become impossible after new regulations by the city council sought to impose sanctions for participants who mistreat animals or drink excessively while taking part in the parade.
The flower festival together with the city’s Christmas lights displays is one of the biggest tourism attractions of the year.
Medellin has already banned load-carrying horses and donkeys.
In January 2013, the country’s capital, Bogota, announced its plan to ban horse-drawn carriages with an exchange program. Horse-drawn carriage owners can turn in their horse for a car. This project, led by Bogota’s Mayor Gustavo Petro, was the beginning of the initiatives to follow.