House Revives Legislation Banning Unsafe Horse Transport

House Revives Legislation Banning Unsafe Horse Transport

Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) for reintroducing the Horse Transportation Safety Act (HTSA) on Monday. The HTSA, which has already attracted an additional 103 cosponsors, would ban the use of unsafe double-deck trailers to haul horses in interstate commerce.

The bill (H.R. 921) aims to ensure that horses are not subjected to dangerous and inhumane conditions during transport. AWI has long spearheaded the passage of the HTSA — first introduced in 2008 — to bar transporting horses in vehicles that endanger both animals and motorists. It passed the US House of Representatives last July as part of a larger federal transportation package, but the Senate failed to vote on the legislation.

“Horses deserve to be transported in as humane a manner as possible on our highways,” Cohen said. “Double-deck trailers do not provide adequate headroom for adult horses, and accidents involving double-deck trailers are an unnecessary and gruesome reminder that the practice is also dangerous to all of the driving public.”

The impetus for the HTSA was a horrific accident in 2007 in which a double-deck trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horses overturned in Wadsworth, Illinois, killing 19 horses. The tragedy spotlighted the reckless practice of cramming horses into trailers designed for much shorter and stouter animals, such as cattle and pigs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends at least a 7- or 8-foot clearance for horses; double-deck trailers usually have a ceiling clearance of 4 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 5 inches, which typically does not allow horses to stand comfortably or even fully extend their heads and necks inside. Moreover, because horses cannot maintain proper balance, they are at higher risk of injury from falling. Horses can also sustain injuries while being loaded onto the steep ramp of a double-deck trailer.

“The use of double-deck trailers to transport horses is inhumane and can lead to debilitating injuries, while endangering others on the road,” said Joanna Grossman, Ph.D., equine program manager and senior advisor for AWI. “Since we have incredible champions in Congress who care about the safety of America’s horses, we are optimistic that this bill will ultimately pass this session.”

Media Contact

Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, margie@awionline.org

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