A new law went into effect in Ecatepec, México state, on the weekend ruling that horses and donkeys can no longer be used to haul trash, a bid to end a longstanding practice that continues to this day even in some urban neighborhoods.
Mayor Fernando Vilches Contreras said the new law aims to end the exploitation and abuse of horses and donkeys. Ecatepec will have zero tolerance for those attempting to flout the new law, which prohibits using animals to haul or carry waste of any kind. Waste hauled by animals to Ecatepec’s landfill will not be accepted, he said.
With these changes, he said, “… from this day forward, we take a vanguard step toward the protection of the rights of living beings.”
The equines have been heretofore used to haul all kinds of refuse, including household trash and landscaping waste. Their owners, known as carretoneros (haulers), number in the hundreds in Ecatepec and have been accused of overworking the animals with little regard to their care. Animal welfare organizations such as Defensoría Animal had been calling on Vilches to end the practice in his municipality since at least 2018.
Since that year, eight horses used in four neighborhoods to collect garbage have been seized by the city’s environmental office due to their maltreatment by carretoneros.
The animals were rehabilitated at municipal facilities for Ecatepec’s mounted police and at the Ehécatl Ecological Park, and then sent to live at equine sanctuaries in México state and Puebla.