Every Summer round this time we start to really worry about all the pets still left on roofs or yards or chained to a wall with little or no shelter from the heat, and with every year bringing higher temperatures than the one before it is a wonder these animals don't just evaporate altogehter. Last but not least, every Summer is also highlights the inadequate legal protection that cab horse have under Maltese law.
Regulations on cab horses are mainfly logistic ones, meant to make sure the horses do not interfere with cars. There is a simple mention that cabbies should ensure the animals are well looked after in accordance to the Animal Welfare Act and we all know how well the Animal Welfare Act has served to protect animals, NOT. Building shelters after unrelenting pressure isn't enough. The horses need to be assured access to these shelters so there are a number of shortcomings in the current situation. Here's what we think.
Moira Delia raises a valid point. Some cabbies prefer to place their horses in more advantageous places to get more customers which unfortunately means they are not in the shade. This is shouldn't happen for two reasons. The first is that cabbies need to respect the horses enough to place them where it is comfortable for them irrespective of the drawbacks the place itself brings. But secondly, it also means that there need to be more horse shelters and they need to be placed where the cabbies need them. Additionally, since the jungle people think it is ok to park under horse shelters, they're just begging for Transport Malta to put up cameras so they can be fined. Those cameras would pay for themselves within a week, surely.There is still a problem though. Shelters cost money to build and need to be maintained.
Ah yes maintenance! Another good habit Malta seems to not have inherited from any of its former rulers. Horse shelters get damaged in the winter and it is now July and this damage has yet to be repaired. Water supply is also, only now, being repaired. So, for the life of me, I cannot understand why go for somehting so complicated in the first place when there is a simple, perfectly natural, self-maintaining solution to provide shade that is actually an even better embellishment than an ugly structure with steel struts and canvas roofing. What might that be?
Why trees of course. Trees are perfect because they mostly repair themsewlves if they are pruned to stay short and pushy so the weather can't damage them too much (unless someone decides to chop them down at the base of course), they provide shade while still allowing good air-flow so there isn't the temperature build up you can observe under a tent, courtesy of the greenhouse effect. So, this frenzy we are currently seeing of tree after tree being uprooted or chopped down to make room for artificial structures leaves us a little :O
We don't even have to look very far. Just last year there was a tree across the road from our center. A huge beautiful tree that provided shade to parked cars and this was chopped down and then uprooted when it showed signed of trying to return. Same thing happened a few meters up the road. All to make room of a parking area with fewer parking spaces than it had originally. A 10 mintue walk to Valletta and you're near the Upper Barakka Garedens. I remember horses standing in the shade of that tree and that's been chopped down too.
Sure, the ministry has issued a statement saying this was done because the tree was deteriorating and dangerous, but will it be replaced? Will it be allowed to grow back if it tries? And if it was so dangerous, why was there no signage telling people to avoid standing underneath it? Pity the statement was issued only after the tree was chopped down.
It is cruel. There was a time not too long ago when animal loving environmentalists had a glimmer of hope that things were turning around but we currently feel like that was just the cruel last little bump that concealed the ground just disappeared and we're now just freefalling into a bottomless pit which ends in environmental disaster. God help the people and animals that will inherit the land.