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Feb 20, 2014

Horse euthanized after accident

On Tuesday, there was an accident in Belize City which resulted in a horse having to be euthanized. It went somewhat under the media radar, but on the social media the outcry has been fast and furious. The horse and buggy business in Belize is a big tourism draw, and the negative response to the incident and the animal being put down can affect the sector.  Today, News Five’s Mike Rudon has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

This is Jack, a horse which became a part of the tourism business less than a month ago. He was a healthy young horse, used to pull a buggy filled with tourists all over the city, but following a minor accident on Tuesday, his leg was broken. For humans that would mean a cast and some bed-rest, but for Jack it was his death sentence. He was sedated later that day and put to sleep.


Dr. Jane Crawford, Veterinary Surgeon, Animal Medical Center

Jane Crawford

“The bone that was snapped, it carries a lot of weight for the body of the animal and he wouldn’t be able to walk. In other countries, there are specialized facilities where they can set these fractures and treat but it takes up to a year before the animal is able to function normally again.”


For animal lovers across the country it is an unspeakable, horrific tragedy, and the discussion of the treatment of horses used to cart tourists around Belize City has been resurrected with a vengeance. Many times these horses are treated inhumanely, worked endless hours without proper care. The City Council is responsible for issuing trade licenses for horse and buggy operations in the city.


Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“It was something that was of concern to us because there has been interests and concerns raised by members of our community as it relates to the human treatment of these animals and the sanitary operation of this type of business. And it is something that we were very concerned with. There is a standing committee which comprises of members of the Belize City Council, the horse and carriage operators and members of the B.T.B. who try to resolve some of these things. How the horse and carriage operation works is that the city regulates them from the trade license standpoint. What we did is that we sent out a list of items that they would have to comply with and upon completion of those things, then obtain a trade license. Of the four of them, only one of those operators has met all the requirements.”


The B.T.B. then regulates from the tour operator’s standpoint in terms of ensuring health and safety standards are put in place. So while City Hall deals with the trade license and B.T.B. deals with health and safety of tourists, who takes care of the horses? Who ensures that they are well fed and well tended, that they are not overworked? There is legislation in place, but as is so often the case, enforcement is a problem.


Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley

“We have been working very closely and that is the purpose of this committee, with B.T.B.  One of the proposals that the City Council had put forward is that we have our mile-four facility which houses our works operations and a stable would have been constructed up there—which is in part constructed—and the animals would have been kept there. Of course ensuring that the animal is properly maintained, groomed, fed; make sure that the animal doesn’t work too hard. The difficulty is that we don’t have personnel to actually enforce that. So we have been relying on community organizations and we have been working with the B.T.B. to ensure compliance. And we also have been working very closely with the operators themselves; many of whom have expressed an interest and have said that this is of concern to them also and they want to deal with it. as I said, only one of them really met the criteria to qualify for a trade license to satisfy the committee that they had put in place; all the measures to ensure that this operation is safe and humane to the animals.”


Dr. Jane Crawford

“I don’t find it…once the rules and the regulations that are in place are enforced, it shouldn’t be any kind of inhumane conditions or the work that the animal is doing. I mean Belize is not the only country that they have horse and carriage situations. But if the laws are there and the animals are given the proper checkups and what is needed and they follow the rules that are in place, then I don’t see it should be a problem. And I think also the animals are a part of the traffic sometimes and if drivers would be considerate of them because as you can see now with this kind of injury the animal has to be euthanized.”


According to Dr. Jane Crawford, Jack was a perfectly healthy horse and had received his clearance to go to work. But she has had many cases where the horses are treated inhumanely.


Dr. Jane Crawford

“Yes I have come across the situations and I think those operators are not operating anymore. But this particular animal, from what I know, has been cared for and it was recently castrated—just maybe about a month ago. And he was given a clean bill of health to start to work. Mister Gabourel even brought him way up here for us to check him twice before he was able to go back and start to work.”


So will Jack’s death go unremarked, or is there at least at least a lesson to be learned from the tragedy? We’d say it’s a wake-up call, at least for City Hall.


Darrell Bradley

“In this case, it is bad enough, but the animal was lost. But you could have had a situation where people were lost, which would have made this so much more egregious. The reality is, as you have pointed out Mike, that our streets are very small, there is heavy traffic particularly around the time when these tours are operated. We often times get complaints that the horse and buggy itself disrupts the flow of traffic. You have people behind—cars and cars and cars—stacked up and it is frustrating. So that one of the things that we had suggested that there are established routes along the waterfront that these horse and buggies will be confined towards because when you look at certain streets in Belize City, it is kind of inappropriate to have tours around those areas because there is not that much tourism attraction there. And then I think with these types of incidents there is a question about the safety of these types of incidents there is a question about the safety of this type of operation. And so it would be our preference that these horse and carriages is being limited to certain specific areas.”


Jack was being operated by Gabourel’s Horse and Buggy Tours. We went to their place of business today but nobody was there. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Horse euthanized after accident”

  1. CEO says:

    A horse that breaks a leg is more often put down: What the heck is the fuss?

    The animal would suffer greatly if not put down.

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