The horse drawing a carriage collapsed in the middle of the Venetian Harbor in the city of Chania on the island of Crete, amid a shocked crowd of people. The animal needed a bucket of water and several efforts to stand on its feet, while angry animal loving tourists were condemning the owner for the living conditions of the carriage horse.
“We sat in a cafe when we suddenly heard a loud noise. A big Bang. We thought a building had collapsed,” an eyewitness told local media zarpanews.gr.
The horse had collapse and fallen down pulling the carriage on the ground as well.
A pandemonium broke out. Animal lovers got furious, the carriage owner was trying to revive the horse, tourists were attempting to shoot pictures, carriage owners were pushing them back.
British and German tourists started shouting at the driver ‘Shame on You!’ You exhaust animals!”
“It looks as if the horse was not given any water for several hours,” the witness said adding that it was impossible to bring it back on its feet. “They tried to bring it to its feet but the horse would fall down again. Only after it drank a bucket of water, standing became possible,” she said.
The incident took place on Thursday, August 17th, in the afternoon.
Zarpanews notes that “the incident was an isolated one” however it opened again the debate about the traffic of carriages in the Venetian Harbor at peak times.
Local authorities had recently decided to have the horse-drawn carriages been withdrawn at 7:30 in the evening citing safety reasons for the people walking around in the harbor. The drivers opposed the decision saying that for them peak time begins at 7:30 and goes until 9:00 p.m. Such a measure would devastate the sector, they argued.
They also said that they stay in the queue under the sun for 8 to 10 hours in order not to miss their turn when tourists and visitors decide for a ride around the harbor.
The drivers argued that their carriages are equipped with modern brake systems and there was no safety reason.
Both sides agreed on ‘flexibility’ in implementing the measure.
However, the problem remains as well as “the issue about the welfare of the horses,” the local news website points out.
In a joint statement, the Greek Federation for Animal Welfare & Environment as well by the Animal Welfare Society of Chania stress that “carriage horses in Chania collapse because they are abused by the drivers.” Both organization call on authorities to work out a plan for the protection of these animals with regards to working hours, health care, working conditions, age etc.
The animal welfare organizations say it is not the first time a carriage horse collapses and that they receive many complaints by tourists about ‘abused carriage horses’.
Both organization call on several local authority bodies and the drivers’ association to sit together with them and solve the problem.
PS donkeys carrying tourists, horse-drawn carriages carry tourists… it’s a business for the welfare of the …tourists – both Greek and foreign visitors – . Of course, there are families whose financial existence depends on this business. Yet, the protection of the animals must be high priority for everyone.