In Argentina alone, tens of thousands of horses and ponies are exploited to collect rubbish. They are seen as live towing machines, pushed until they draw their last breath, and treated like rubbish the moment they are no longer able to work. These piteous animals and their owners, the «carreros», are despised by society. Yet, they perform an important social function.
The carreros separate out recyclable materials such as scrap metal, wood, paper and cardboard to sell to recycling companies. Their cheapest means of transport are the small rachitic horses that cart the rubbish from the dumps to the buyers. Their extremely poor owners give the horses barely anything to eat or drink. They force them to carry unbearable loads, do not give them a moment's respite, and kick and beat them with metal bars and barbed wire until they collapse - and another wretched creature still able to stand takes their place.
FFW’s Campaign «Basta de TaS» - No More Horses for Waste Collection
In May 2011, Fondation Franz Weber (FFW) together with the Argentinean animal welfare organisation LIBERA!, launched a campaign to abolish the use of waste-collection horses in Argentina and indeed throughout Latin America. «Basta de TaS» aims to achieve the following: to replace the horses with motorised vehicles and put an end to the mistreatment they endure. The freed horses are then taken to sanctuaries or put up for adoption. At the same time, dignity is restored to the carreros by acknowledging the importance of their work and providing them with modern, efficient tools.
Fondation Franz Weber’s Sanctuary «EQUIDAD» for Freed Waste-Collection Horses
In 2013, Fondation Franz Weber established the Sanctuary EQUIDAD in San Marcos Sierra, Central Argentina. FFW takes freed waste-collection horses to Equidad, provides medical care, looks after them and gives them a new lease of life in peace and dignity.
FFW’s campaign is making good progress. Thousands of horses have already been replaced by motorised vehicles throughout Latin America. One of many heart-warming examples is that of Mery, an old pony mare who came to EQUIDAD from Rio Cuarto in Argentina. It’s hard to believe that this delicate animal had managed to haul such heavy carts for so many years. But Mery's story has a happy ending: Today she is well-fed, healthy, gets medical care, and the load is literally “off her back”.
However, still plenty of work needs to be done. Tens of thousands of waste-collection horses are waiting for liberation in Argentina alone. Support from politicians and society is strong, but the mills of legislation sometimes grind slowly and much patience is needed.