A temporary shelter will be erected to provide shade for carriage horses working in Dockyard, the SPCA has revealed.

The animal charity and Wedco have joined forces after a horse collapsed from heat exhaustion on Wednesday, prompting fresh concerns for the welfare of carriage animals in the West End.

The SPCA says that after talks with the owners of Dockyard’s carriage horses a “mutual agreement” has been reached whereby carriage operations would be restricted to the cooler times of the day.

“The owners are co-operating fully and have provided the SPCA full access to their horses and medical records,” said Sarah Haycock Tafur, SPCA president.

“We are pleased to report that the horses are under vet care and will not return to work until they have made a full recovery and open wounds have healed.”

“A mutual agreement between the owners and the SPCA, has been reached and once the carriage operation resumes it will be with restricted hours, 7am to 8.30am and evenings during summer months.”

The animal charity says that existing legislation in the Care and Protection of Animals Act 1975 and Care and Protection of Animals (Commercial Horse Stables) Regulations did not go far enough to protect the welfare of the Island’s animals.

The SPCA told The Royal Gazette that licences for carriage horse operations should not be granted by the Department of Environmental Protection until provisions have been put in place for shelter and water at the site of tour operations. “The major concern of the SPCA is the wellbeing of the Island’s carriage horses,” an SPCA spokeswoman said.

“The charity is sensitive that carriage operations are the livelihood for the operators and if these businesses cease to exist the welfare of the horses will again be in question.

“However, this is not an excuse to work an animal in such adverse condition such as extreme heat and humidity exasperated by tarmacked roads and heavy exhaust fumes from mopeds, taxis and tour buses.”

Talks between Wedco and the SPCA to improve conditions for carriage horses in Dockyard are expected to continue in the coming weeks. The spokeswoman added: “Wedco is currently working with the Bermuda SPCA to formulate an ongoing relationship where the SPCA will be able to provide service on Wedco’s behalf to assist in improving animal protection on Wedco lands.

“In the meantime, the SPCA is working to ensure a temporary shelter is installed as soon as possible until a more permanent solution can be agreed upon. Wedco already provides running water to the carriage operators. The SPCA acknowledges, contrary to recent comments, that Wedco does not promote the business of operating carriage horses in Dockyard.

“They have been supportive by providing running water in an effort to assist the horses.

“The public should also be aware that Wedco is not the licensing body for this type of operation nor does Wedco have input into the granting of a licence for stables or carriages as these are awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection and carriage licences through the Transport Control Department.”

By Simon Jones The Royal Gazette