The horses of Mackinac Island need our voice. On August 17, 2011, a supply horse collapsed and died in front of many bystanders. Even as the horse was struggling, the driver kept rapping him with the reins and when the horse collapsed he kept pulling on the reins to get him up. When help arrived they dumped water on the horses head. We were horrified not only by the horses death but at the cold and cruel behavior of those tending to the horse. This is only one of many such stories.
Before this occurred, we were continually disturbed by what we saw – horses foaming at the mouth, eyes bulging as they pulled extremely large loads and cold and indifferent treatment from the drivers. Although there were a couple of small buckets of water on the street, not once did we see a horse given a drink. As we questioned locals all day we were told “only 5-8 horses die a year.”
Letters to State Representatives and the Mayor of Mackinac Island have gone unanswered. When a response was received from the carriage company responsible for the horses, they advised that they work closely with the State of Michigan regarding the standard of care for the horses. When the State of Michigan was contacted, they stated more than once that they are in no way involved with the horses of Mackinac Island and their standard of care. Animal Control is supposed to investigate any complaints. When they were contacted they advised that they do not investigate on the Island.
Since I have been researching this issue, I have heard countless stories of people witnessing horses being forced to continue on when they are limping and straining, and of horses dying. There have been other letters written to the Mayor with no response.
These magnificent creatures that contribute so much to the Michigan economy and work so hard, get absolutely no protection in return.
Please sign the petition below to urge lawmakers to implement standards of care and put legislation in place that would require the carriage tour operators to adhere to these standards.
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- Michigan Governor
I just signed the following petition addressed to: State of Michigan.
Protect Mackinac Island Horses
Please implement standards of care for the horses of Mackinac Island and put legislation in place that would require the carriage companies to adhere to these standards.
For too long, the horses of Mackinac Island have been suffering and working in extreme conditions.
There have been countless stories of horses being forced to continue to work even when they are clearly struggling and in distress and pain.
The most recent was last summer, when a cart horse collapsed and died in front of several bystanders. While the horse was struggling, the worker continued rapping him with the reins. It wasn’t until the horse was clearly dying that any attempt was made to help him. That help then came in the form of dumping water on his head.
These magnificent creatures contribute so much to the Mackinac Island/ Michigan economy and deserve protection. The following standards have been compiled by humane organizations and should be implemented immediately:
1. Each carriage must have an adequate braking system and must be correctly balanced so that the weight of the vehicle is no hardship on the team of horses. No horse or team of horses may be required to pull more than nine people, including carriage employees, in one load or more than one and a half times their own weight.
2. A horse must not be worked for more than four hours per day and must be permitted 10- to 15-minute breaks each hour to eat and rest. Horses must also be given one day of rest after five days of work.
3. Horses must not be required to work in temperatures exceeding 80°F, or 80°F with a humidity index of more than 65 percent, or below 20°F.
4. Rubber shoes or steel shoes with borium tips suitable for use on pavement are required for all horses’ hooves. Plastic pods or rubber caulks may be necessary for certain horses.
5. Horses used to pull carriages must be between the ages of 4 and 20 years and must weigh between 1,100 and 1,500 pounds.
6. All equipment must fit properly, be in good repair, and be suitable for use.
7. Each horse must be examined by a veterinarian at regular two-month intervals. Exams must include regular hoof, dental, and parasite-control care as well as “fitness to work” evaluations.
8. Horses must be inspected by employees prior to each working shift. Horses with open sores must be treated by a veterinarian and excused from work until a veterinarian has determined that the sores are fully healed. Horses found to have poorly fitted shoes or shoes in a state of disrepair must be prohibited from working until their shoes are in good condition. Horses found to be limping or injured must be assessed and treated by a veterinarian and prohibited from working until a veterinarian has issued an appropriate “fitness to work” evaluation.
9. Stables must have automatic sprinkler systems to keep horses cool in high temperatures and stalls must be large enough for a horse to turn around and lie down in comfortably and safely. Horses must have free access to water in stalls at all times. Light, ventilation, and sanitation must meet stringent codes for health, safety, and comfort.
10. At least one location on each working route must have water and feeding stations.
11. Horses must not be left unattended on city streets.
12. Carriage employees are required to have driver training and education on horse care.
We respectfully urge you to take action on this very important issue.
Tracy Farris started this petition with a single signature, and now has 240 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.