Double-Decker Horse Transport Bill Introduced

A bill that would outlaw the transport of horses in double-decker trailers has been reintroduced into the U.S. Senate by Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk. The bill stems from a 2007 incident involving the crash of a double-decker trailer carrying Belgian Draft horses crashed near Wadsworth, Illinois.

In October 2007, a semi-truck hauling 59 Belgians in a double-decker trailer from Indiana to Minnesota overturned, resulting in 17 horses' deaths. The surviving 42 horses were placed in the care of the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society (HARPS), in Barrington, Illinois, and later in adoptive homes.

Subsequently, a dozen states either banned the use of double-decker trailers for horse transport or took steps to further regulate double-decker trailer use. In 2007, the USDA banned the use of double-deck trailers to transport horses to slaughter. However, no federal legislation banning the use of double-deck trailers for general horse transport has been passed.

Introduced March 24, S 850 would amend Title 49 of the U.S. Code to “prohibit the transportation of horses in interstate transportation in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels, stacked one on top of one another.”

Under the proposed legislation, violators could face civil penalties of at least $100, but not more than $500 for each violation. The legislation also contains a separate violation for each horse that in transported or caused to be transported in a double-deck trailer as described.

Kirk sponsored similar legislation in previous congresses, including S 1281 in 2011.

Meanwhile, S 850 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for review. The legislation 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.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More