Double-Decker Trailer Bill Advances

A federal transportation bill that would forbid the transport of horses in double-deck trailers advanced out of committee and is on its way to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Some animal welfare advocates have long considered double-decker horse trailers inhumane because their configuration is not high enough for the animals to stand with their heads extended to the full normal postural height. Traffic safety issues connected with the trailers were highlighted in October 2007 when a semi truck hauling 59 horses in a double-decker trailer from Indiana through Wadsworth, Ill. to Minnesota overturned. A total of 17 animals perished due to accident-related injuries, either on the scene or within days of the incident.

In September the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service enacted a rule prohibiting use of double-deck trailers to transport slaughter-bound horses to from U.S. farms and feedlots to other way points en route to foreign processing plants. But the rule does not cover horses in transit for any other reason.

New legislation, H.R. 7, however, contains language prohibiting the hauling of horses in double-deck trailers. Overall, the bill addresses transportation and infrastructure issues and policies, and encourages private sector participation in infrastructure financing and construction projects. On Feb. 3 House Speaker John Boehner announced that members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 7. The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Meanwhile, a senate bill would establish a nationwide ban on the transport of horses in double-deck trailers. Sponsored by Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, S. 1281, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2011, would prohibit the transport of horses in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of each other to or from any point within the U.S. and its territories. That bill remains pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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