The death of Sheru, a nine-year old horse which was hit by a speeding bus on November 30, has again highlighted the plight of horses in Thane, with animal lovers alleging that many of the horse carriages don’t possess valid licences despite an Animal Welfare Board of India(AWBI) directive.
Sheru and its owner were headed to a fodder dealer's shop, with the horse pulling a small cart, when a bus hit them. The impact threw Sheru to the other side of the road and the owner fell on the footpath, both suffering injuries. The animal was taken to hospital by the Thane Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) while the owner was accompanied by a member of their team to lodge an FIR.
However, despite receiving medication and accepting food and water, Sheru died the next day.
“Our equine expert Dr Suhas Rane diagnosed a probable break in Sheru's lower spine and we knew the chances were slim but we tried our best to give him some relief,” said Shakuntala Majhumdar, secretary, Thane SPCA.Majhumdar said horses in Thane are mainly used to pull carriages and give joyrides individually, for marriage and other celebration processions but do not possess valid licenses.
In a June 2010 letter by the AWBI to the district collector of Thane and Thane SPCA, the Board said, “It has come to the notice of the AWBI that over the past five years, the horses used for joyrides in various places of Thane have not been issued valid licences. Consequently, many cases of horses being abandoned with severe injuries have been reported from these areas. Since horses used for joyriding qualify as performing animals, each horse owner is supposed to register their animals with the AWBI under the Performing Animals Registration Rules.”
The letter says each horse must be given a health check-up and vaccination for any diseases before licences are issued to them.
In Thane, the authority to provide licences is held by the Assistant Commissioner of Police. “However, through an RTI query I filed recently, I found that no licences have been given since 2008. We had to force the horse owners to have their horses vaccinated,” said Majhumdar.