Baltimore, Md., officials confiscated 19 horses, owned by Arabbers, from tents under the Monroe Street Bridge in South Baltimore because of unsafe and inhumane conditions on Tuesday, Nov. 10. According to the Baltimore Sun, Arabbers, street vendors who sell produce from horse-drawn carts in Baltimore, denied the health department’s allegations.
On Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States and Days End Farm Rescue seized the horses from tents at 650 S. Fulton Ave. and took them to a Days End facility for medical care. Days End will keep and care for the horses until Baltimore city officials determine who will take custody.
According to the Baltimore Bureau of Animal Control, the horses were living in squalid conditions, with stalls filled with rat-infested piles of feces, debris, trash and little proper bedding. The Humane Society reported that many of the horses suffer from parasite infestation, malnutrition and extremely over-grown hooves.
Baltimore health officials found the animal welfare and health code violations during a routine inspection on Nov. 3 and then obtained a search and seizure warrant.
After closing an Arabber stable on Retreat Street in 2007, city officials allowed the horses to stay in the empty Fulton Ave. lot until they found a permanent location. The Arabbers never moved to a permanent stable.
“This has been a long, drawn-out process. We have tried to come up with a plan that accommodates the needs of the Arabbers, who have a long, proud entrepreneurial tradition in Baltimore,” Reggie Scriber, deputy commissioner of housing and community development, told the Baltimore Sun. “However, our main priority is the protection of the animals. The Housing Department will continue to work with them to remedy this situation.”
The Arabbers Preservation Society, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and preserving the long-standing African-American folk tradition of arabbing, reports that more than six horse and Arabber teams work in Baltimore, and Arabbers have two other stables in Baltimore, one at 1102 S. Carlton St. and the second in the first block of N. Bruce Street.