Horse News

New USDA Transportation Regulations for Slaughter-Bound Horses Applauded

Information courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States

USDA Closes Loophole that Killer Buyers Exploited

The Humane Society of the United States praises the U.S. Department of Agriculture for closing a gaping loophole that previously allowed the horse slaughter industry to escape oversight and transport horses in inhumane conditions. Many horses bound for slaughter have ended up in dangerous double-decker trailers if the shippers exploited the loophole and simply made a stop between the auction block and the slaughter plant.

Double-deckers trailers are not designed to safely transport horses, and the USDA has documented horrific injuries to horses’ heads, necks, backs and legs that occur during the long trip to the slaughterhouse – adding to the misery inflicted on animals by this indefensible industry. The final rule provides that all regulations covering the humane transport of horses to slaughter be extended to include slaughter-bound horses who are delivered first to an assembly point, feedlot or stockyard. It is important for improving the humane transport of horses being shipped to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico.

“Far too often we have seen the devastating, often fatal, effects of horses being forced to travel in double decker trailers,” said Keith Dane, The HSUS’ director of equine protection. “The Humane Society of the United States is pleased that the USDA has revised its rules so killer buyers can’t circumvent sanctions by saying they are only transporting horses to a holding facility, rather than directly to a foreign slaughter plant.”

Double-decker trailers are designed for short-necked animals, such as cattle and sheep. Horses carry their heads high and use their long necks for balance, and the low ceilings in double-deckers mean they are forced to lower their heads to an abnormal and uncomfortable position. In 2006 and 2007, catastrophic highway accidents involving double-decker trailers killed a total of 31 horses. In both instances, the design of the trailers caused horses horrible injuries, including traumatic amputations of parts of  legs or broken backs.

The USDA stated in the Federal Register, “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.” Recent reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Office of the Inspector General also recommend closing the loophole that allows shippers who do not transport horses directly to a slaughter facility to escape USDA oversight and use double-decker trailers.

Currently, no horses are being slaughtered in the U.S., but American horses continue to be forced to endure long trips in these dangerous trailers across the borders. While the USDA finally closing the loophole in its regulations is an important step to crack down on horse slaughter abuses, The HSUS strongly supports the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176), which will, among other things, ban the long-distance transport and export of live American horses for slaughter in neighboring nations.

21 replies »

  1. Great that someone is taking an interest in the transport issues. Now how about some real reform and this once and for all. Even if you believe horses are livestock (pardon me while I heave my guts)what about all those illegal drugs that you’ve been administering? BUTE,worming meds, fly sprays–yuck do I really want fly spray for dinner? Not me thank you.

    I just wish owners would do the right thing and either peacefully end the horse’s life or send it to a sanctuary. You aren’t getting even with the horse for his not being fast enough on the track. He has no knowledge of what he’s done wrong. All he knows is that the people who were suppose to care about hi have suddenly betrayed him in the worst possible way.

    If you think reality tv is bad–try being on the receiving end of the betrayer. It ain’t a pretty place. And just because you had a bad childhood (whatever your excuse is)this is even more of a reason to stop this cycle of abuse. Grow up folks.

    Folks need to understand that the cheapest part of horse ownership is the purchase price. After that you’ll have board bills, vet bills, farrier bills. And were not even to the different supplements or saddles. Or any extras.


  2. Well it is something…but I won’t be satisfied until horse slaughter is ended completely. NO transportation to other countries allowed unless the horse is destined for a special show or event or is clearly an expensive horse not bound for slaughter.


  3. This is a good news, bad news thing.

    Yeah, great USDA finally acknowledges that DDs used for cattle, sheep and swine aren’t good for equines….so who is going to enforce the law? Certainly not the states and local LEOs…USDA have a roving swat team to enforce? Last I checked, they can’t even get enough inspectors on the kill floor.

    USDA “loophole” change will exempt rodeo haulers. Watch how quickly loads of slaughter bound equines become rodeo stock! Besides, the creeps and killers on the Mexico side use single level, uncovered, overcrowded tractor-trailers.

    As many here have said before….gotta stop slaughter for human consumption altogether by getting s. 1176 passed and a companion bill in the House.


    • Second thought; Why now? Is this why the Kill buyer with the wild horses was stopped? In preparation for this? Which means this could be a prelude to WHAT? I am just suspicious of this development. Can’t help it.


  4. BTW, Lynn posting at Horseback reminded me about the importance of Sen Kirk- IL Equine Transport Act/Bill in the Senate. I don’t care that USDA is acknowledging that equines shouldn’t be shipped in DDs and they will be in charge of the reg change? Regs are easy to change versus laws.

    We need the Kirk authored ETA (S.1126?) PASSED in the Senate and a companion bill in the House…and of course passage of the S. 1176 (anti slaughter) too.


    • YEs, you need the hard law and not the pliant and changeable ‘policy’… this is so suspicious to me still. Half stepping.


      • Denise,
        The correct bill number is S. 1281, The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2011, introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.


  5. If they are making Equine Laws in their favor, they better Enforce them, or what is the sense??????? I want to see the Law stating , no Slaughter trucks with horses pass through the borders of any US States ……………….. under penalty of the Law !!!!! This is a super way to stop sending Our Horses to Slaughter Plants in Mexico and Canada !!!!


  6. There’s a huge problem with this “final rule” that the GAO recommended to the USDA to propose: the required owner/shipper certificate that “defines” when a horse is to be designated for slaughter (and therefore not legally to be transported in double deckers), is filled out by the hauler, or kb….nothing changes with this rule. Why would anyone believe that just because USDA “proposed” a new rule, that the hauler is going to suddenly decide he needs to comply and fill out the certificate accurately? Not only that, USDA admitted in the GAO report they have not received any owner/shipper certificates from the Texas Ag for horses crossing the border into Mexico in over a year…why should haulers even bother to turn in owner/shipper certificates at all? According to the GAO report, a large percentage of them are not turned in to USDA at all, and also USDA/APHIS stopped entering data from the certificates into their data base back in 2005 – before they expected the US facilities to close. Further, it doesn’t appear that the USDA/APHIS has ever had a formal written agreement with either Mexico or Canada for exports that would enforce regulations for the collection of owner/shipper ceretificates to enforce humane transport rules.
    Please read our EWA rebuttal to the GAO report. You will all be astounded at the information we found about the lack of USDA’s enforcement of the transport rules for horses to slaughter.
    You can read the summary at this link:

    Click to access GAO_Exec_Summary-final.pdf

    And our full report here:

    Click to access GAO_Response-final.pdf


    • WOW VALERIE!!!!! You are another one of the most smartest “cookies” in this battle against sloppy government, LYING and worst of all, cruel, inhumane treatment of animals feeding contaminated meat to humans (or any living creature for that matter).



  7. Just a note to everyone – this corrected regulation does not go into effect until October 7, 2011. Until that date, double decker trailers WILL be used – we know that. Interesting reaffirmation in the written regulation on Federal Register – that transporters who bring in animals who are injured in transport will be cited. State cruelty laws and APHIS are enforcers.


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