John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Malibu considers outlawing rat poison and another Mexican city bans bullfighting.
Welcome to this special animalistic edition of This Week In Bans, our weekly look at what's being outlawed in the world:
HORSES ON THE BEACH, IN IRELAND
Beachgoers in Galway should expect a much chiller vacation experience this year: They will no longer be subjected to the rapid clop-clop-clop of hoofs on sand and the frantic neighing of a stressed-out horse being forced into the ocean. That's because the Galway City Council has banned from Ballyloughane Beach the use of "sulkies," or horse-drawn carriages, out of concern they encourage animal abuse and also might flatten children.
For years, the Galway beach has presented a chaotic scene of sulkie operators racing horses and washing their steeds in the sea. But Mayor Terry O’Flaherty promises those days are over, reports the Galway Advertiser:
"I’ve seen cruelty being done to these horses, they are chased down a long road, beaten to run into the water. It’s not fair to the horses. I have also witnessed dung piled all along the road. I’ve only seen two people out with a bucket and spade to pick it up. I’m not saying to ban horses completely but we have to come up with a solution. It’s a danger waiting to happen."
The wanton misuse of sulkies is also drawing ire in Kilkenny, whose leaders are looking into regulating the carriages. In that city, according to the Kilkenny People, there is "currently someone before the courts for driving a sulkie under the influence of alcohol."
BULLFIGHTING, IN MEXICO
The spectacular, gory and almost-certainly cruel practice of bullfighting has ended in Veracruz, the oldest port city in Mexico. On Wednesday, the municipal government announced it had changed the animal-welfare codes to outlaw any blood sport involving bulls, dogs or roosters, reports the Latin American Herald Tribune.
Bullfighting remains a popular and lucrative sport whose origins in Mexico date back 500 years to the Spanish occupation. If you're unsure about what goes on during a fight, here's a spoiler: The bull dies in the end. But animal-rights groups have been pushing hard for an end to the practice across the country, saying it's (obviously) bad for the bull, with an estimated 9,000 of the animals ritually killed each year. It can also be very bad for matadors, who sometimes incur horrific, just painful-to-look-at injuries.
The new law carries fines of up to $521 for anyone who repeatedly stages fights, although first-time offenders only get a written warning. (Memorize that if you go to Veracruz: You get one freebie bullfight.) Veracruz is the latest Mexican city to ban the sport; similar laws exist in the state capital of Xalapa and across all of Sonora. Next up: Spain.
ANIMAL POISON, IN CALIFORNIA
Malibu is deciding whether to join San Francisco, Berkeley and other California burgs in outlawing rodenticides. On the plus side, these chemicals control rats populations. On the negative, they leach into the bodies of predators that eat rats, according to the Malibu Agricultural Society, which got the potential ban on the city council's next agenda.
The society's secretary, Kian Schulman, told the Malibu Times that the "statistics on our wildlife are horrendous," with 95 percent of bobcats and 74 percent of mountain lions showing signs of ingesting rodenticide in the past five years. The group is recommending that locals take up non-poison alternatives, such as sealing holes in their homes and using catch-and-release traps. There's also the time-tested sitting-up-all-night-with-a-pellet-gun-and-bottle-of-Jack method, although it's doubtful whether Malibu would embrace that.
Top image: A sulkie, whose owner is not being accused of beating horses (Johan Wieland / Flickr)