The RSPCA has welcomed an upcoming ban on horse-drawn carriages in Melbourne's CBD, calling the change a win for animal welfare.
Transport Minister Ben Carroll announced on Thursday the ban would kick in next month. However, operators could still work on the outskirts of the city, including at the Royal Botanic Gardens and other park precincts.
Victoria's RSPCA, which has been advocating for the CBD ban for years, said its inspectors responded to 48 cruelty reports about carriage horses in the past five years.
The charity's state policy and advocacy manager Mhairi Roberts said the CBD posed multiple welfare risks to the horses, including cars, trams, excessive noise, crowds, oppressive heat in the warmer months, and working on hard ground.
"All these risks are compounded when the horses are not accustomed to working in the city," Ms Roberts said.
"Even one day of working in the CBD can result in poor welfare outcomes for carriage horses."
The RSPCA said horse-drawn carriages operating outside of Melbourne's CBD was still a concern.
Mr Carroll said horse-drawn carriages posed a safety risk for commuters, pedestrians and motorists in the city centre.
"There have been multiple and many issues around safety," Mr Carroll told reporters on Thursday.
"Particularly with the tram network and U-turns, but also to many different pedestrians wanting to get to where they need to get to and being held up."
Mr Carroll said there were only about four operators left in the CBD, noting many also work in regional Victoria.
"We are there to help them and transition to what we think will be a better practice for them, a better alternative for their horses, and also a better alternative for tourists," Mr Carroll said.