Horse cart, Tel Aviv_311.
(photo credit: Courtesy Hakol Hai)
The prevalence of the rag-and-bone man, sluggishly pulling his wears about in a
horse-drawn cart, was apparently not limited to the 19th-century streets of
Europe but is a surging phenomenon on the streets of Israel today.
letter sent to Transportation Minister Israel Katz on Wednesday morning, animal
rights organization Hakol Chai asked the minister to take on the groups’ ongoing
struggle against this continuing trend of peddling goods and carriages on
horseback, which they said constitutes abuse to the animals. They therefore
called upon Katz to revise a basic definition in the country’s existing traffic
ordinances, in which an animal-drawn cart is defined as a mode of transportation
– and thus grants validity to a form of horse abuse, according to the
“In Israel 2012 a horse harnessed to a cart is not a vehicle, but
abuse,” the group said.
Aside from the subject of animal welfare, which
constitutes a significant problem in the carthorse phenomenon, employing
horse-drawn carriages constitutes a safety risk for all users of the road –
motor vehicles, drivers, passengers and pedestrians – creating congestion and
consequently, traffic delays, wrote Michal Wollansky-Atias, professional
director of Hakol Chai, in the letter.
In recent months, Hakol Chai asked
members of the public to send in pictures and location information whenever they
saw a horse-drawn cart, and in response, the group received dozens of photos on
a daily basis of horses in “humiliating situations” across the country, the
organization said. Many of these public reports came from Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan,
Givatayim, Kfar Saba, Netanya and other locations, according to Hakol
The local authorities, however, have little ability to address the
phenomenon and find themselves combating the presence of carthorses on their
streets, Wollansky-Atias said. She therefore demanded that the minister revise
the existing basic definition in the law that labels a horse-drawn cart a
vehicle, in order to help eradicate the phenomenon.
“It is inconceivable
that at the peak of the year 2012, sights of horses being exploited, neglected
and injured still constitute an integral part of the urban landscape in Israel’s
reality,” Wollansky- Atias said. “Changes to this definition in the law do not
entail resources or a budget and are a matter of policy only.
We call on
the Transportation Minister to not give validity to this phenomenon of abuse in
city streets, which for much of the general public has become an environmental
nuisance at a personal level.”
In response to a query from The Jerusalem
Post, a Transportation Ministry spokeswoman said that the ministry would only
provide an in-depth answer to the letter after conducting an extensive review of
the issues by means of professional bodies