A calèche horse collapsed and died after apparently suffering breathing problems on the corner of Saint-Jean and Saint-Sacrement streets in Montreal’s Old Port.
“It was just gut-wrenching to see an animal that sick and see people care so little about it,” said Chris Romanyk, who said he watched the horse die.
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Romanyk said the horse heaved and coughed for around 45 minutes before being detached from the carriage it was pulling.
It continued to heave before collapsing on the street and dying, he said.
Police arrived and cordoned off the area so the SPCA could investigate.
The organization said it “has always been very concerned about the way carriage horses are treated in Montreal and is eager to see the City of Montreal’s long-awaited by-law prohibiting the use of horse-drawn carriages on its territory.”
The death immediately threw horse-drawn carriages in Montreal back into the spotlight.
The practice is slated to be banned after 2019; Romanyk said it should be banned sooner than that.
City Councillor Craig Sauvé said the law’s timetable will remain as is.
The horse’s owner, Luc Desparois, said the horse was in good shape at the beginning of the day, adding that city residents have misconceptions about the health of carriage horses.
“Don’t tell me a horse in Montreal is working too hard,” he said.
The investigation is now in the hands of provincial authorities under the Ministry of Agriculture.
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