The BC SPCA wants horse-drawn carriages banned from Victoria streets, following an incident in May, in which two harnessed horses fell at Ogden Point and struggled to get up for more than five minutes, according to witness accounts.

The horse-drawn trolley, operated by Victoria Carriage Tours, was reportedly stopped when a bus pulled up behind it on the busy city street. As the trolley prepared to move off, it rocked backward and hit the bus, which knocked the two horses off balance and took them down.

BC SPCA CEO Craig Daniell wrote a letter to city council urging them to disallow horse-drawn carriages in the city. In it he stated: “The BC SPCA recommends Council prohibit the operation of horse-drawn carriages and trolleys on Victoria’s streets, limiting their operation to the safer park environment.” Council were set to consider the matter on June 7th. No further updates have been provided at this time, however.

Daniell noted, “Emergent video of the event is alarming and demonstrates handlers were not adequately trained in emergency procedures, nor in control of a situation which posed a serious threat to public safety and the animals welfare.”

Watch video of the incident below:

In addition to a city ban, the BC SPCA made the following recommendations:

  • Limit horse-drawn carriages to those which only require one horse.
  • Establish standard operating procedures and emergency management plans for urgent situations.
  • Create a report form, required by any licensed operator to be completed following any incident occurring during working hours in the City of Victoria.
  • Require each operator to have an emergency kit for each vehicle containing an extra halter, 4 traffic cones and first aid kits for both people and horses.

According to this report from CTV News Vancouver Island, Victoria Carriage Tours issued a statement defending its safety record. In it, they said: “We have gone above and beyond The City of Victoria and SPCA oversight and regulations. I am concerned with the recommendations to prohibit trolley teams in Victoria. Such measures would take away opportunity to assist in training new horses how to do the job.”

A competing carriage company, Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, issued a statement letting the public know they were not involved in the incident, and have numerous safety precautions in place. They stated:

“The letter primarily focused on recommendations to improve safety procedures for horse-drawn operations; however, one sentence contains a concerning blanket statement that the city consider shutting down the entire industry. We are confused how safety recommendations suddenly jump to a statement that potentially puts our business at risk.

“In every aspect of our operations Tally-Ho follows strict procedures and precautions to maximize the safety of our horses, staff and the general public. We operate under the guidelines of a comprehensive, 70-page Policies and Procedures Manual, a copy of which was provided to [councillor] Charlayne Thornton-Joe prior to the commencement of our 2018 season. This manual includes specific emergency procedures; instructions on documenting incidents; daily checks that safety kits are on each carriage; internal restrictions on operating areas that go beyond current regulations; proper handling of horses; and detailed horse and staff training programs that were developed with leading equine experts.

“We are a progressive company that continually implements advancements in the carriage industry and sets high standards of ethics and care. Tally-Ho exceeds both current and proposed regulations. The industry’s safety record is outstanding at only a 0.00001% incident rate over the last 20 years.”