Horse-drawn garbage wagon in Reynosa.

Abuse charged in handling of horses that pull Reynosa garbage wagons

This year alone, 20 trash-towing mares, stallions and foals have perished while on the job

The torture of horses that pull garbage wagons in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, will officially end on October 1.

Authorities in the border city have decided to outlaw the use of equines to haul rubbish amid claims that many of their owners abuse them – in some cases to such an extent that horses have been seen to drop dead.

This year alone, 20 trash-towing mares, stallions and foals have perished while on the job in Reynosa.   

“The horses collapse on public streets suffering from dehydration, malnutrition and disease; some are forced to pull extremely heavy carts, which causes deformities in their legs,” said Eva Soto, president of the Cavall Association, a group dedicated to the rescue of mistreated horses.

“What’s even worse, they get ulcers and perforations on their skin and even deep infected holes that are caused by the constant use of harnesses or because they’re beaten by their owners in a desperate attempt to get them to work beyond what their strength allows,” she said.

“. . . The collection of garbage by [horse-drawn] wagons is a tradition of which we should feel ashamed,” Soto charged.

Finally, after years of inaction and despite opposition from both garbage collectors and some members of the general public, the Reynosa municipal government has said enough is enough.

Local councilor Héctor Eduardo Flores Gómez said that in addition to the mistreatment of horses, the animals’ use for garbage collection is being banned because many of their owners have limited knowledge about waste management and burn the rubbish they collect at clandestine dumps.

He said that the owners of the more than 2,000 horses that are used to haul trash in Reynosa will have the opportunity to continue their trade under the city’s new “motorized” waste collection system.

“We’re not taking away their source of employment, we want them to go from [using] an animal to a motor vehicle. They know that an animal can’t work pulling garbage, walking several kilometers exhausted under the sun. That will be banned – it’s mistreatment – and we’ve seen how some fall down dead from dehydration, hunger and health problems,” Flores said.

“We’re not going to take a single backward step. From October 1, the horses go, the city council is no longer willing to tolerate any excuses . . .”

Any garbage collector who violates the new ordinance will face fines equivalent to five to 10 minimum salaries (about 500 to 1,000 pesos in the northern border region) and detention of up to 36 hours.

Source: El Universal (sp), El Mañana (sp)

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