Horse Health

Good News: Animal Welfare Groups Laud House Panel on Horse Transport Ban

Bulletin from Horseback Magazine

Mexico‘s Horse Slaughter Plants Will Feel the Pinch

Not only is the destination outragously cruel, the journey fairs no better

WASHINGTON, (AWI) The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) applauds Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN), of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, for bringing the Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R. 305) before his Committee and supporting its swift unanimous passage.   “We are especially grateful for the leadership and commitment of the bill’s sponsors Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN).  Both have been incredible champions for the welfare of America’s horses,” noted Christine Sequenzia, AWI federal policy adviser.

Several bipartisan cosponsors spoke in support of H.R. 305 during the hearing, including a poignant opening statement by Congressman Cohen.  H.R. 305 passed by a voice vote with no amendments and is now headed to the House floor.   This crucial bill will ban the hauling of horses on double deck livestock trailers.  Double deck trailers were designed to accommodate livestock, such as cattle, swine and other shorter necked species.  According to USDA, horses can stand 8 feet tall and up to 12 feet when rearing.  Consequently, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s literature review recommends that horses have a minimum of 7-8 feet of clearance. Double deck trailers, on the other hand, can have ceilings as low as 4 feet 7 inches.

Currently, these trailers are being used to haul horses in overcrowded conditions—and in most cases to slaughter.   These unaccommodating conditions are not only dangerous for the horses, but to drivers, as well.  Several catastrophic accidents involving double deck trailers have occurred in recent years.

In 2006, a double deck truck hauling 41 horses in Missouri crashed and resulted in the death of 16 horses.  In 2008, a double deck trailer carrying 59 horses in Illinois struck another vehicle after blowing through a stop sign.  It took five hours to rescue the horses from this mangled truck; 9 horses died at the scene, and an additional 6 died later due to injuries sustained in the crash.   Today’s vote was critical to the safety of horses being transported, safety of drivers on our roadways, and safety of first responders who generally are not trained in equine medical attention.  The USDA stated, “We do not believe that equines can be safely and humanely transported on a conveyance that has an animal cargo space divided into two or more stacked levels.”

“Thanks to horse champions such as Chairman Oberstar and Congressmen Kirk and Cohen, we are one step closer to more humane methods of transport for equines and safer roadways for drivers,” said Sequenzia.

Humane Society Lauds House Panel

WASHINGTON, (HSUS — The Humane Society of the United States applauds the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for passing legislation—H.R. 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009—that will vastly improve the welfare of horse transport in the United States.

Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., and Ranking Member John Mica, R-Fla., exhibited strong leadership for horse protection by moving this bill for a vote. Chairman Oberstar spoke eloquently about the dangers horses faced in a series of accidents involving double-decker trailers and commended the bipartisan nature of the legislation. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, offered an amendment to remove the ban on double deckers from the bill and to simply regulate these vehicles. He then agreed to withdraw the amendment after several members from both parties spoke strongly against it as undermining the need for an immediate ban.

The legislation would prohibit the interstate transportation of horses in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and has 70 House cosponsors. In addition to Chairman Oberstar and Rep. Cohen, Reps. John Hall, D-N.Y., Phil Hare, D-Ill., and Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., also spoke in strong support of the legislation today.

“The time has come for Congress to ban double decker trailers for all horses,” said Keith Dane, The HSUS’ director of equine protection. “We don’t need any more gruesome incidents to know that double-decker trailers are inhumane and unsafe. These vehicles are primarily used by the horse slaughter industry for hauling as many horses as possible from auctions to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico. The American public loves horses and this legislation is urgently needed to prevent future tragedies.”

Double-decker trailers are designed for animals such as cattle and pigs – shorter-necked species than horses, who require more headroom than double-decker trailers afford. Horses often throw their heads to maintain balance, and injure easily in such vehicles.

The USDA has stated: “We do not believe that equines can be safely and humanely transported on a conveyance that has an animal cargo space divided into two or more stacked levels.” (9 CFR Parts 70 and 88)

“It is time that we put an end to the inhumane practice of using double-decker trailers to transport horses,” Rep. Kirk said. “Stacking these animals one atop the other in a moving vehicle is simply an accident waiting to happen. It is not only a cruel way to transport horses, but it also puts human lives at risk.”

Rep. Cohen said, “Using double-stacked trailers is inhumane and cruel. Our bill prohibits any interstate transportation of horses in double-stacked trailers and implements tough civil penalties for anyone caught using such deplorable modes of transportation for horses.”

Recent accidents graphically demonstrate the dangers of the double-decker trailers. In 2006, a double-decker truck hauling 41 horses in Missouri crashed, killing 16 horses. In 2007, a double-decker carrying 59 horses in Illinois struck another vehicle after blowing through a stop sign. It took five hours to rescue the horses from this mangled truck, resulting in the death of nine horses; six died later due to injuries sustained. In both instances, the design of the trailers caused horses to lose parts of their legs or break their backs. Others were crushed under the weight of other horses falling on top of them.

Congress will soon recess for the summer but returns in September when H.R. 305 is now cleared for a vote before the U.S. House of Representatives.

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17 replies »



  2. My hope is that officers that see these vehicles on the road will pull them over immediately. The horse-haters can’t have everyone under their thumbs.


  3. Did they re-name the act or is this a typo. I though the act was named H.R 503 not 305? or did they just re-name it?


  4. Pennsylvania enacted such a law awhile ago and it is enforced. No doble decker trailers and no blind horses are allowed to be taken to auction. A federal law is better because some states still allow the double deckers.


  5. This is H.R. 503. You can find the rest of this in the Cloud Foundation archives. We need to active on passing this bill, also.

    January 24, 2010

    Dear Humanitarian:
    The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
    Homeland Security has just announced that it will hold a hearing on H.R. 503,
    the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, on Tuesday, February 2, at 4:00 p.m.
    This bill, sponsored by full Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and
    cosponsored by a majority of the Committee, is identical to legislation
    overwhelmingly approved by the same Committee last year.


  6. The crook KBs/rodeo hacks will find ways ro get around this. The key word is interstate (crossing state lines). What they do now to get around the law that says DDs can’t be used from auction to slaughter is break up the haul with drops. This is how the creeps do it in CA.


    • I questioned the language as well. What about within a state? I’ve also heard that Mexican trucks come over the border to take horses to slaughter. Will this law apply to them?


  7. But the news from the House is good none the less….now, let’s see what the House of Lords (Senate) do with this.


  8. Louie, I wish that were true, but theyfind so many LEGAL ways to get around things. But I think this bill will pass. Its hard to be seen on the side of Animal Cruelty as the Iowa representative found.


  9. There was a judge in California that was impeached. I’m not sure how long ago. He breeched some code of ethics and was nailed for it. It could be researched. My ears picked up on it when listening to a program where they were discussing exactly what we are all about–citizen action.


    • In my state (and surrounding states), a jurist literally has to be diagnosed with mental disease, multiple DUIs, drug activity and/or naked in the middle of the road during the 4th of July parade…..sorry, but impeachement or voter recall is time consuming and difficult. When the state or fed judiciary ethics boards get involved, same thing….but they give the judge time to file for retirement and it’s done VERY QUIETLY.

      But I don’t disagree that it can be done. I’m just saying, pulling jurists off the bench is difficult and the authorities that can do it move slowly and without notice. They are also a system of good old boys, much like the AMA, AVMA, etc.


  10. good news for horses. will this go for rodeo too? In many states they can use double deckers for rodeo horses.

    sure seemed to get on the table pretty quick for a vote.

    Maybe the work of Slaughterhouse Sue and her buddie Mrs contracter!??

    so they can get rid of the low class double deck trucker killers. Use their cattle cars “slaughterhouse-rescue” on the railroad she bought.


  11. We all just have to keep chipping away. The sludge didn’t build up overnight. It’s going to take some elbow grease to get rid of it.


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