Illinois Accident Horses Nearly Ready for Adoption

A veterinarian who has been caring for the 42 equine survivors of an Oct. 27 semitrailer rollover accident in Wadsworth, Ill., says the animals are mending and are nearly ready to go to new homes. Placement coordinators for the horses are in the process of reviewing adoption applications for the herd members.

Kevin Nelson, DVM, of Bristol Veterinary Services, one of the veterinarians who's been treating the horses since the incident said the majority of the animals have only minor injuries and no longer require treatment.

"Six or eight of them have large lacerations or infected wounds that still need to be treated; and we've taken cultures on some that show signs of respiratory illness," Nelson said. "We don't have any reason to believe that any of the 42 will have to be euthanized."

According to Donna Ewing, president of the Barrington, Ill.-based Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society, offers to adopt the horses are flooding in from across the United States and beyond.

"So far, we have 250 applications from people who want to adopt these horses from as far away as Canada and Sweden," Ewing said, noting that she hopes the horses will be placed with local owners to facilitate site inspections and follow-up visits.

However, it will be another two weeks before placement begins.

Nelson said the attending veterinarians will not take an active role in the adoption process, but they have advised Ewing to require that adoptive owners have temporary quarantine facilities, and to obtain signed waivers acknowledging the horses could have unapparent accident-related injuries.

"There could be bone chips or a cracked hip that still haven't shown up," Nelson said. "The quarantine is important because these horses came from all over. We've only had them for going on two weeks and don't know what (latent diseases) could be incubating."

The accident occurred when a double-decker trailer loaded with 59 horses overturned. A total of 17 horses perished, either on the scene or within days of the event due to accident-related injuries.

On Nov. 1 Illinois state representatives JoAnn Osmond (R-61st) and Robert Molaro (D-25th) introduced nearly identical legislation amending Section 5 of the Illinois Humane Care For Animals Act to ban equine transport in double-decker trailers. Molaro deferred to Osmond as the bill's sponsor, but he remains one of the measure's chief co-sponsors. For more on this see  

If passed, the law carries Class B misdemeanor penalties for the first offense, increasing to a Class 4 felony for all second or subsequent offenses. The law would become effective immediately after its passage by the full Illinois General Assembly.

Currently, Illinois has no statute prohibiting transporting horses in double-decker trailers, though federal regulations do forbid double-decker horse transport if horses are en route directly to slaughter facilities.

The driver of the truck was charged with disobeying a traffic control device and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. The violations carry penalties of $150 in fines. So far, no additional charges have been filed in connection with the incident.

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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