Draft report favors electric cars over horse carriages on Princes’ Islands

Draft report favors electric cars over horse carriages on Princes’ Islands

Draft report favors electric cars over horse carriages on Princes’ Islands

A long-awaited draft report on animal rights that will be submitted to the parliament on Oct. 4 calls for the “immediate” use of electric cars on Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands in an attempt to protect the horses used for carriage rides on the islands.

“A certain number of horses that are in line with the Horse Carriages Regulations and suits the number of carriages should be left on the Islands. (Experts’ suggestion is about 30-40 carriages and about 300 horses for them). The permission should be given only for draught horses to pull the carriages. Immediately, the use of electric cars should start on the Islands,” says the draft report.

Draught horses are bred specifically to complete laborious tasks such as plowing and pulling carriages.

The poor conditions of the carriage horses on the islands have been a widely-discussed topic for years, with several footage showing horses collapsing and falling to the ground due to exhaustion. Animal rights activists have stressed the horses suffer extremely, saying the carriages eventually lead to the death of many horses.

The number of horses on the islands amounts to about 500 in the winter, whereas it goes up to over 1,000 in summer months, when tourists flock to the islands.

In 2018, authorities announced that electric cars will be put into practice on the car-free islands in the hope of reducing the stress and hardship on the horses. But carriage operators opposed the move, saying their livelihood and the local economy depends on the carriage horses.

The animal draft report to be submitted by the parliament’s Animal Rights Research Commission to the parliamentary speaker’s office on Oct. 4, World Animal Day, hopes to clarify the years-long discussion about the horse carriages on the Princes’ Islands.

The report consists of 33 suggestions regarding animal rights and lists previous works undertaken. It was prepared as a result of the parliament animal rights research commission holding several meetings with activists, nonprofit organization representatives, academics and other people involved in animal welfare. 

One of the issues handled in the 33-item suggestion list is spaying and neutering. Reproductive sterilization is a very important issue and should be applied across all Turkey, says the report.

“Spaying is the only method that is proposed to control the [animal] population in cities. But the success of spaying is possible only if it is applied in the whole country. It is proposed that for the population to be taken under control, first of all, the distribution and number of both owned and not owned animals should be determined and actions should be taken accordingly,” it says.

The draft report also suggests the ban of the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops, the ban of animal circuses in the country and a ban on using dolphins or other sea mammals in shows.

The draft report also suggests the creation of a fund to be used for animals under the name of “Animal Welfare Fund” and creation of a unit responsible for interfering in crimes against animals under the name of “Animal Police.”

Those who leave their animals on the streets should face “serious sanctions,” according to the report. “To understand if an animal, which has been left on the street, has an owner or not, the legislation regarding identification should be put into force as soon as possible,” it says.

The draft report also suggests a change in the status of animals, as the current law treats animals as “commodities.”

Princes' Islands,