Animal protection groups fight Oxford horse omnibus plan

Posted on the 14th June 2001

Animal protection groups from the UK and the USA have joined forces to ask Oxford City councillors to reject a byelaw proposal that would allow horse-drawn omnibuses to operate in the city.

Animal Aid, the UK’s largest animal rights group, is leading the opposition to the byelaw, the outcome of which will be decided at a June 21 council meeting. Drawing on the experience of equine experts with first-hand experience of horse-drawn vehicles, Animal Aid has produced and in-depth report which details the catastrophic consequences of placing highly-strung animals in an urban environment. It reveals that:

  • Virtually every city in the US that has allowed these tourist gimmicks has seen injuries and fatalities – involving both horses and people.
  • 85% of all accidents were the result of an animal becoming ‘spooked’
  • 70% of the time there was a human injury
  • 22% of the time there was a human death

Backing Animal Aid’s appeal to councillors to reject the byelaw is Holly Cheever, DVM, a leading US equine veterinarian who deals with the day-to-day consequences of carriage horses in New York City. Says Ms Cheever:

“There is no such thing as an unspookable horse, nor can the average driver control it once it bolts. If this were to happen in Oxford, whether in traffic or a busy pedestrianised area, the outcome would be unthinkable. It would be insane for Oxford City council to pass a byelaw that would endanger its citizens and may lead to huge liability costs for the city.”

Animal Aid’s campaign is being backed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States – respectively the world’s largest animal right and welfare groups. Between them they have 9 million supporters.

Wendy Turner Webster, presenter of Channel 4’s Pet Rescue, has also spoken out against the plan, condemning it as a risk to both people and animals.

Said Animal Aid Campaigns Co-ordinator, Yvonne Taylor, who will be addressing the June 21 council meeting:

“This plan must be rejected. Horse-drawn omnibuses would be intolerable for the animals, dangerous to people and damaging to the City of Oxford’s reputation. The Council is already being flooded by email protests from the UK and overseas. Far from attracting visitors to the city, many people would be repelled by the sight of horses being forced to pull heavy omnibuses in all weathers.”

Notes to Editors

  • For a copy of Animal Aid’s full report to Oxford City Council, contact Yvonne Taylor 01732 364 546.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast quality interviews.

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