With so much public focus on protecting wild horses on the range and all horses from slaughter, few people realize that horses are hauled all over the country in double-deckers, a trailer deemed cruel by even the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Previous legislation banned the use of double-deck trailers to transport horses to slaughter because of their inherent cruelty, but non-slaughter bound horses continue to be hauled on these trailers for various reasons.
To address this problem, Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Peter King (R-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) this week reintroduced the bipartisan Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R. 1400) with the support of 39 additional cosponsors.
HR 1400 would ban the use of double-decker trailers for horses under any circumstances.
Specifically, the bill would amend Title 49, United States Code, to prohibit the transportation of horses in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.
Double-deck 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, a few irresponsible haulers continue to use these trailers against manufacturer intent to transport horses, leading to inhumane travel conditions for equines and unsafe roadways for drivers.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Agriculture Safety Database have recommended ceiling heights of no lower than 7’-8’ to transport horses safely, while average double-deck trailer ceiling heights range from 4’7”-5‘11”. It is also important to note, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires a 14’ minimum vertical clearance in both rural and urban areas, making it impractical and inhumane to build or modify a trailer large enough to transport equines on two levels.
On Nov. 7, 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a statement recognizing the inhumane practice of transporting horses in such trailers, stating that, “double-deck trailers do not provide adequate headroom for equines, with the possible exception of foals and yearlings. We do not believe that trailers that have two or more permanent levels that are no collapsible can be adequately altered to accommodate adult equines, especially tall equines.”