Victoria horse carriage company hits back at recommendation to restrict tours
Published Wednesday, June 6, 2018 12:12PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 6, 2018 6:42PM PDT
A Victoria horse carriage tour company is defending its safety record a day after the BC SPCA called on city officials to heavily restrict the industry.
Victoria Carriage Tours said it is standing by its statement that a recent video showing the aftermath of two horses falling on a city street does not tell the whole story.
"We have gone above and beyond The City of Victoria and SPCA oversight and regulations," the company said in a statement. "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."
BC SPCA CEO Craig Daniell sent a letter to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and council asking them to consider banning all horse-drawn carriages and trolleys on city streets.
Daniell pointed to a May 4 video posted to Facebook that shows two such horses that fell at Ogden Point after a bus hit their trolley.
He said the video contradicted the company's earlier statement the horses remained calm throughout the incident and waited for handlers to remove their harnesses.
"However, the footage shows this to be untrue," he wrote. "The handlers prompted the horses to stand while still harnessed, putting them at further risk of injury. It is evident the handlers did not have an appropriate strategy in place to safely resolve the incident."
The company defended its handlers' response to the issue, saying its safety record over 15 years has been "outstanding."
"Our ground staff attending the horses assessed the situation, engaged help from horse experienced passengers and proceeded slowly to take off the harness which then allowed the horses to get up on their own," it said. "The horses were cast due to the incline, the harness, the lack of traction. The horses chose to stay down to wait for human help."
Another Victoria horse carriage tour operator unrelated to the incident, Tally-Ho, issued a statement in response to the BC SPCA's letter questioning its decision to publicly speak out.
“We are confused how safety recommendations suddenly jump to a statement that potentially puts our business at risk,” it read.
But Victoria Carriage Tours said the incident still triggered changes in its policy and procedures and that harnesses will now be removed right away in similar incidents.
The company said it's currently seeking a scientific medical opinion on the video which it will share at a later date.
Council is expected to address the BC SPCA's recommendation at a meeting Thursday.
The organization is also asking council to limit horse-drawn vehicle to one horse per vehicle, and recommending additional standards for the carriage tour industry including the implementation of standard operating procedures and emergency management plans.