BCS Mediation Blog

Mediation News and Comment

Protecting Working Animals Through Mediation: Mediators Can Negotiate for Horses’ Welfare and Release

Horse-drawn carriage rides are a herald of summer that evoke a picturesque tourist experience to many city dwellers. As the subject of recent disputes however, they paint a different picture. Animal rights groups claim that horses are overworked, suffer in extreme weather conditions and are inadequately housed. The carriage industry, on the other hand, maintains that complying with regulations is enough. Issues range from who regulates the horse-drawn carriage industry and whether that regulation is fair (see this recent St. Louis dispute), to whether horses are being overworked (especially in the summer heat) or housed and exercised in adequate conditions. Mediation can help to start a dialogue that paves the way for better practices – and if necessary can negotiate to release horses that are being mistreated. As the St. Louis city alderman said, “rather than just returning to the status quo… maybe this is time to seek out a better solution.”

In New York, protests have gathered steam as PETA joined advocacy group NYCLASS after a series of incidents in which one horse collapsed and another ran amok. Horses, like many other animals, aren’t sufficiently protected under the Animal Welfare Act. As animals that have many functions in society, from working animals to companion animals and show animals (not to mention wild horse populations), horses are covered by a plethora of confusing state and federal laws. Animal labor laws imposed by states can protect animals, but they can also require animals to work long days in poor conditions. Litigation may be doomed to fail when it is difficult to prove that the law is being broken, and/or laws don’t protect animals adequately in the first place.

Solutions Designed to Protect Horses

Mediation can engage carriage horse owners, animal welfare advocates and city or state regulators in a meaningful dialogue about how to protect and regulate working horses. From extreme temperatures, to confined housing, to pollution, to hard road conditions, mediation can intervene in disputes involving working horses to reduce or eliminate the daily hardships they face by negotiating for horses’ release or for humane working conditions.

As animal rights mediators running the U.S.’s first animal rights clinic, Boileau Conflict Solutions can identify issues specific to horses’ wellbeing and craft collaborative solutions that take horses’ needs into account. Horses are sensitive animals with a highly tuned fight or flight response. Often carriage horses are older animals who are pre-trained on farms and brought to work in cities towards the end of their work life. The conditions they face may be strictly legal, but hard on the animals. Mediation can offer many solutions, including, but not limited to:

  • negotiate for the release of horses who are being mistreated or not fit for work and negotiate with stables or other benefactors for the future care of horses who may be too old or frail to “pay their way”
  • negotiate with city and state regulators and the carriage industry to craft better agreements that protect horses
  • any financial compensation or considerations for future care of the horses can also be negotiated through mediation

  • How We Can Help

    We are caring and well-educated mediators with legal, financial and psychological backgrounds. We enlist mathematical, legal and psychological strategies to resolve conflict, working towards agreements that reflect the financial legal and emotional needs of all parties. We consider animals stake-holders in any dispute, with unique individual and species-specific needs. We are available 7 days a week, in person at our offices in Campbell, CA, Irvine, CA, and Boulder, CO or via telephone, skype or zoom. We can also intervene in situations involving violence and at urgent notice. Please get in touch for a free, confidential consultation.

    Further reading on this topic:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/high-powered-consultants-join-team-to-curb-nyc-carriage-horses-1498421211

    https://awionline.org/content/urban-carriage-horses-out-step-responsible-horse-welfare
    https://www.peta.org/blog/peta-members-join-nyclass-protest-cruel-horse-drawn-carriages-new-york/

    Leave a Reply