Horse News

Bill to Ban Double Decker Horse Trailers Introduced

Press Release from the Humane Society of the United States

Another Inhumane Link to Slaughter Recognized

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States commends Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., for introducing S. 1281, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2011, an important measure to improve safety for horses during transport. The legislation would prohibit the interstate transportation of horses in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. This bill is backed by organizations in the veterinary medical community, the agriculture industry and animal welfare groups, and is supported by a recommendation in a new Government Accountability Office report released last week which stated that a ban on the use of double-decker trailers for transport to slaughter would “protect horses through more of the transportation chain to slaughter.”

“We have long known that transporting horses in double-decker trailers is inhumane and extremely dangerous for the animals and a hazard on the highways,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “It’s time to put a stop to this dangerous transport of horses, and we commend Senators Kirk and Lautenberg for taking the lead to end this suffering.”

Double-decker trailers are designed for short-necked animals such as cattle and pigs — not horses, who require more headroom than double-decker trailers allow. Horses often throw their heads to maintain balance and can badly injure themselves in such vehicles. Double-decker trailers carrying horses primarily transport them for slaughter, with the intention of moving as many horses as possible, without regard for safety.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 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,” Sen. 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.”

In recent years, there have been a number of horrific accidents in which top-heavy, double-decker trailers carrying horses have flipped over en route to slaughter plants and feed lots. In 2006, a double-decker truck hauling 41 horses in Missouri crashed, killing 16 horses. In 2007, a trailer carrying more than 50 young Belgian draft horses overturned on an Illinois highway, killing 17 of the horses and severely injuring dozens more. Clearly this method of transportation is unsafe for horses and drivers, as well as others on the road.

“Transporting horses on our roadways must be done in a way that is both safe for the animals and safe for drivers on the road,” Lautenberg said. “Double-decker trailers cram horses into tight spaces and create dangerous, top-heavy loads that can lead to horrific accidents.”

This legislation was first introduced in 2009 and garnered the broad bipartisan support of 81 House cosponsors. While H.R. 305 successfully passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, it never became law.

This measure is consistent with the American Veterinary Medical Association policy on the Humane Transport of Equines; the AVMA supported H.R. 305 and similar legislation in the past.


  • Data within the scientific literature indicate increased rates of injury associated with the use of double-decker conveyances for transporting horses, according to the AVMA.
  • According to the National Agriculture Safety Database, a recommended height of 7 to 8 feet is necessary for the safe transport of horses (i.e., adequate headroom for the horses to stand comfortably with their heads in normal position).
  • Because current interstate highway regulations require a minimum vertical clearance under overhead structures of 14 feet in urban areas, it is not possible to build a double decker trailer that’s both tall enough for horse safety and low enough to clear under overpasses.

10 replies »

  1. What they can’t torture them fast enough that they have to double them up? This is so wrong on so many levels…can’t kill ’em fast enough gotta bring ’em in like Noah’s Ark 2×2…Rigoddamndiculous!!!!!


  2. Can’t ban DDs for all livestock and think this bill excludes rodeo haulers with customized rigs. But we know what will happen with exemptions, right?

    Every scum bucket hauler will be magically approved rodeo hauler.

    Yes, Jerry…that’s why S1176 is on the table. Not fast enough for me, you or the equines in eminent peril.

    Please clarify (anyone reading), why APHIS says they can’t enforce transport issues because killfloor inspectors are unfunded? And that doesn’t exempt state ag departments or highway transportation enforcement for every individual state doing their duty.


  3. I agree with Jerry..We need to pass SB 1176. As a constituent of Senator Kirk’s, the accident was horriic to say the least. Although 19 of the horses did not make it, the other surviors made it and were adopted into loving homes. So again, so much for the unwanted horse rhetoric. These haulers are jerks and should not be driving trucks let alone a truck like that. As a result of this
    crash, our horse club-Horse Promoters sponsored a 1 day workshop for the
    police and firemen in our area. It was pretty obvious that most did not have any
    experience with horses. This gave them an insight into horse behavior and the possible response that they may see. They thanked us for sponsoring this and said in the event of another accident this will help them do their job better.
    RT thanks again for keeping everyone informed. I have passed on some of the information I have received to Senator Kirk. I know we can count on him to help us with our horse issues. If this bill passes, we all have to be vigilent to make sure the law is enfoced by law enforcement. This was another eye opener for those in law enforcement because they had no idea that horses were being transported like that. I think we are finally waking up the right people in Congress. It is only by all the letters and emails sent by all the individuals that creates movement. It seems to me like the ball is really rolling.
    And the GAO report – What a waste of tax payers money.


  4. I am just sick about the torture the BLM is about to do to the Wild Mustangs again , Here is a fact maybe we can use to the Mustang advantage, Before Planes or helicopters can be deployed the Air needs to be checked for Birds yes flockes of Birds , if they are filling the air, Helicopters or planes cannot fly, well , What say we release a huge amount of birds in the round up area ???????? Well its just silly enough to work , no helicopters no round up!!!!!!!


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