Mayor Denis Coderre’s announcement of a year-long moratorium on Montreal’s famous caleche horses last week has been received with mixed feelings. Mayor Coderre has assured caleche drivers that it is not a permanent ban, and things will resume their pace next year, albeit with improved security measures and standards that are more professional. The mayor said that he was not satisfied with the way things were progressing with the caleches. The best option to remedy this, according to him, was to take a break and start from scratch.
However, the news has raised concerns for many caleche drivers, as a number of them cannot afford to keep the horses at their homes. With many of the drivers lamenting the loss of their jobs, Montreal seeks new temporary homes for caleche horses.
Positive Response from Animal Rights Activists
The moratorium has been spurred by a number of incidents, the latest of which was last week’s mishap where a horse pulling an empty carriage ran into a car. Such incidents have caused Animal Rights Activists, such as Anne Streeter, to argue that horses do not belong in the city, and the long working hours, coupled with heat and traffic, are just too much for these animals.
Founder of the group Action Anti-Caleche, Streeter was glad to find out about the moratorium and hopes that it will be permanent. Meanwhile, the Montreal SPCA, which has argued against the inhumane and antiquated ways in which the caleche industry has been operating, is also looking forward to the horses finding new homes instead of being sent to slaughterhouses.
While the news has been received positively by some, the same cannot be said about the caleche drivers. They are planning to seek an injunction against Montreal which would permit them to continue their practice. Although the city has promised to reimburse those whose permits were granted this year, it is still a huge loss for many.
One such case is of Michael Prince, who has been a caleche driver for 34 years. Prince, like a number of his colleagues, is devastated by the prospect of not having a job and losing his horse. Moise Cohen, another driver, has been taken aback by the abruptness of the whole ordeal, while Andre St-Amand is worried how he will afford to take care of his horse, which he estimates at $400 monthly, without a job. If the drivers are to lose their livelihoods, many of them will have to put down their horses as they cannot afford to keep them. This is why Montreal is seeking homes for its beloved caleche horses.
Horse Refuges May be the Answer
Amidst all the drama, the Anti-Caleche Defense Coalition has been working very hard to ensure that the horses find someplace safe where they will be taken good care of. The coalition’s spokeswoman, Mirella Colalillo, recognizes the concern of the drivers who do not want their horses sent to slaughterhouses. She is therefore in talks with Galahad, a horse refuge, to make sure that all 56 caleche horses find a secure home.