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Italy: Rome Regulations to Protect Carriage Horses

(Mar. 3, 2010) On February 22, 2010, new regulations went into effect in Rome, Italy, to better protect horses that pull tourist buggies. The new rules ban grueling uphill climbs, limit the animals' work day to an eight-hour maximum with mandatory breaks, prescribe regular health checks, and require the drivers to display license plates to facilitate reporting mistreatment of the horses. However, the buggies will still be permitted to operate in the heavily-trafficked historic center of the city, a major source of disagreement between animal rights' activists and the buggy drivers. (Rome Gives Buggy Horses a Break: City Council Bans Uphill Climbs, Gives Shorter Workday, ANSA.IT, Feb. 22, 2010, available at

Walter Corporale, of Italy's animal rights group Animalist Italiani, stated, “[w]e're not going to stop lobbying until we get them off the streets for good. … It simply isn't conceivable for horses to be carting people around in 2010.” (Id.) Proposed alternatives such as limiting buggies' use to park trails failed to appeal to the drivers, and so, Corporale said, “the important thing is to make sure horses are protected by [the] same legal status that dogs and cats have,” because horses are currently considered to be livestock under Italian law, making them subject to the same treatment accorded sheep and cattle. (Id.)

Two accidents in 2008, in which horses were seriously injured while hauling a buggy, prompted the adoption of the new regulations. One animal collapsed from exhaustion while pulling a carriage uphill on the Via Veneto in the hot summer sun; another slipped and broke its leg near the Colosseum and was “put to sleep before a crowd of horrified onlookers.” (Id.) Public outcry over the incidents resulted in the creation in July 2009 of an emergency veterinary response team, “an on-call veterinarian and horse ambulance capable of transporting the animal to the 'emergency room' at an equine clinic run by the Italian mounted police.” (Id.)