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Animal Attraction: Bipartisan Bill Aims to Halt Cruel Form of Horse Transport

by Stacy Fox

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 10:48 AM

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomes the reintroduction of S. 1459, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013, by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The bill, which prohibits the hauling of horses on livestock trailers containing one level on top of the other, has garnered bipartisan support in Congress, as well from the welfare, veterinary and agriculture communities.

"It is time we put an end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in double-decker trailers," Senator Kirk said. "A 2007 accident in Illinois involving one of these trailers killed 15 horses. It is not only a cruel way to transport horses, but it also puts motorists' lives at risk."

Double-deck livestock trailers on the road today were built to meet the specific design and engineering requirements of short-necked livestock species, like cattle, sheep, and swine. Unfortunately, some irresponsible haulers use these trailers to transport horses, leading to inhumane travel conditions for equines and unsafe roadways for drivers. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Agriculture Safety Database (NASD) have recommended ceiling heights no lower than 7'–8' to transport horses safely, while average double deck trailer ceiling heights range from 4'7" –5'11". The U.S. Department of Transportation only requires bridges to have a vertical clearance of 14'–16' in rural and urban areas, making it impossible to build or modify a trailer large enough to transport equines on two levels.

"Double-decker trailers are designed for cattle and hogs, not horses," said Senator Menendez. "This legislation would put a much needed end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in trailers with two or more levels stacked on top of each other, regardless of the purpose. Not only is this type of conveyance cruel, but it also jeopardizes safe roadway conditions for New Jerseyans and all of those who travel through our state."

"AWI is pleased that Senator Kirk has reintroduced this important bill with his colleague Senator Menendez during the 113th Congress," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs at AWI. "The humane transportation of animals has long been a top priority for AWI and it is time to eliminate this inhumane practice with respect to horses."

The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013 (S. 1459) is necessary to protect horses from being transported across the United States for any reason in a trailer having more than one level.

Read the bill here.

The Animal Welfare Institute