Using horse and other animals for labor and transport is still common in some parts of the world.
Popayán, Colombia is one such place where seeing a horse pulling a cart on the street is not an unusual sight.
But seeing a horse give birth in the street? That’s still pretty unusual.
So it was quite the shock for pedestrians when a pregnant mare, carrying a cart of goods, had to stop to have a baby… right in the middle of the road.
Passersby were understandably bewildered. Every person in the crowd then did one of three things: capture the unbelievable scene on camera, rushed to help the mare give birth, and/or confronted the horse’s exploitative owner.
Onlookers couldn’t believe he had allowed her to be working and carrying such a heavy load when she was this pregnant.
When the story made the local news, even more people became outraged, but it sparked a small debate.
While the horse was clearly being mistreated, its owner claimed that he and his family’s livelihood depended on the animal. He fought back at the angry crowd, trying to defend himself and saying he couldn’t afford to take a day off. Even though he knew his horse was expecting a baby foal any day.
The video has been viewed more than 60,000 times and the public is calling for the owner to be charged with animal cruelty. Some people feel some empathy for him, but the overwhelming majority feel that it’s unacceptable no matter his personal situation.
People around the world are struggling to make ends meet amidst the pandemic. But regardless of his financial struggles, no horse deserves to be treated in such a terrible way.
Work horses have been around for ages and are traditional tools, but they’re no longer necessary for most people. In areas of Indonesia where there are rice fields, water buffalo are still used to help till the soil. But there are no alternative tools available yet.
But many cities in other parts of Colombia have already banned the use of animals for transportation, particularly in major cities like Bogotá and Medellín.
Wherever there are roads, there are many other options for transport.
AnimalEthics.org attests to the various alternatives that can be used instead of animals:
“It is possible and necessary to end the use of animals as a means of transport, and replace them with vehicles. Even in places where such exploitation is traditional, there are alternatives. For example, in Medellín, Colombia, cargo bikes were provided to those who had previously used horses to collect debris after the use of horses was prohibited. The same substitutions can be made around the world to move toward a society free from animal exploitation.”
Popayán’s health secretary, Óscar Ospina, responded to the situation after local authorities were contacted by many civilians who witnessed the ordeal.
He assured the public that the horse and her new baby would never have to work again.
They have both been rescued and won’t be abused by this owner (or any other) ever again. He doesn’t believe animals should be used for labor like this.
A permit is required for most work animals, but they’re often still used illegally. It’s unclear whether this particular owner carried a permit or not.
The two horses underwent careful medical observation after the ordeal but made a full recovery. The foal was born without any complication or injuries.
As for the animal regulations in Popoyán, hopefully this horrible situation can expedite change.
It needs to happen to see all animal exploitation banned across the country, and eventually the world.
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