Trailer Accident: Proposed Law Would Ban Illinois Double-Deckers

Less than week after a double-decker trailer rollover caused the death of 17 horses, a member of the Illinois General Assembly introduced legislation that would ban the use of such trailers to transport horses for any reason.

Ill. State Rep. Robert S. Molaro (D-25th) introduced HB4166 on Nov. 2.

The measure amends section 5 of Illinois’ Humane Care For Animals Act, adding: "No person may transport any equidae in any vehicle or trailer containing two or more levels of equidae, one on top of another."

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

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

Support for legislation to ban double-decker trailer horse transport in the state reached a peak following an Oct. 27 accident involving a semitrailer hauling 59 horses from Indiana through Wadsworth, Ill. to Minnesota. A total of 17 horses perished, either on the scene or within days of the event due to accident-related injuries.

The surviving 42 horses--which include Belgians, Percherons, and Haflinger/pony crosses--have been in the care of a Wadsworth, Ill. horse farm owner. Now, however, they might be moving to new, permanent homes.

According to insurance adjuster Mike Stack of Great West Insurance Co., which took possession of the horses from their Minnesota-based owner, the horses will be made available for adoption. The Barrington, Ill.-based Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society will serve as adoption agent for the insurance company.

Society President Donna Ewing said prospective owners must apply to adopt the horses, have previous horse experience, identify a veterinarian to provide care, and prove that they have access to stabling facilities. Approved owners will pay the insurance company between $50 and $100 per horse.

"We’ve already had more than 100 applications from people to adopt these horses," Ewing said. "But priority will go to the volunteers who helped these horses at the accident scene."

The prospective adoption of the Wadsworth horses highlights the need for quality homes for other rescue horses, said Barb Boublelik-Chmielewski, executive director of Lazy Maple Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Leland, Ill.
"There are thousands of horses in need of adoption," she said, "All people need to do is do an internet search and find a reputable rescue organization."

As in the case of the Wadsworth horses, Boublelik-Chmielewski said legitimate rescue organizations will require that prospective owners apply for adoptions and will follow up on horse care and condition after the adoption has taken place.

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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