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Thursday, July 29, 2010

On the Road Again...

H.R. 305 Passes House Committee
Posted Jul 28, 2010 by lauraallen

* Horse Slaughter

double decked trailer Update July 29, 2010: The House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has passed H.R. 305 by voice vote. Attached below find the committee background and markup on the bill. Also attached find Animal Law Coalition's letter to the Committee.

It's on to a vote in the full House!

The bill, H.R. 305, was introduced by Representatives Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced the bill at the start of the 111th Congress. H.R. 305, known as the Horse Transportation Safety Act, would ban the use of double decked trailers for all horse transport.

What You Can Do

Find your U.S. Representative and urge your representative to support H.R. 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act, which bans use of double decked trailers to haul horses and promotes highway safety for everyone.

You can reach your Representative through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

More about the proposed law

There is a USDA regulation banning the use of double decked trailers to transport horses to slaughter. 9 CFR 88.3 But the USDA has also said it does not have the resources to enforce the regulation, giving the industry a virtual green light to continue using double decked trailers to haul horses to slaughter. Also, the law allows horses to be hauled in double decked trailers to destinations other than slaughter houses. So, horses are routinely hauled long distances in double decked trailers to some destination close to the slaughter house. Once there, they are then transferred to another vehicle which takes them to the slaughter house.

Double decked trailers can have ceiling heights as low as 5'7". (The industry standard for vehicles to transport horses is 7'-8'). According to the USDA, an equine can be 8 feet tall when standing on all four legs and close to 12 feet tall when rearing.

The bottom deck of a double decked trailer has 3" I Beams every 12" on center to support the top deck.

Steep and narrow ramps with metal floors cause the horses to slip and fall, causing injuries. Horses are forced to jump down into a narrow opening leading to the bottom deck; they are often injured as a result.

Because of the low ceiling heights horses cannot raise and lower their heads and necks for balance. Horses routinely throw their heads and rear, unlike cattle, hogs, goats or sheep for which these double decked trailers are designed. Horses suffer headm neck and back injuries because of the low ceiling height, the 3" I beams, and overhead ramp storage.

They are held on these trailers in this way for long periods. Many suffer serious injuries during these arduous journeys to slaughter, stumbling, falling and are trampled and even killed.

Sometimes the upper deck collapses, leaving horses injured and terrified or dead. There have been a number of accidents involving over full double decked trailers: On May 18, 2010, a cattle trailer hauling horses to a feedlot in Texas crashed on the Turner Turnpike in Oklahoma. Eleven of the 30 horses being transported died.

In October 2007, a double-decker tractor trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horses through Wadsworth, Illinois, crashed, badly mangling the trailer and trapping many of the horses. Fifteen of the horses died as a result of the accident.

In 2006, a double-stacked trailer hauling 41 horses to a slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois, crashed, killing 16 horses.

USDA has stated that, "We do not believe that equines can be safely and humanely transported on a conveyance that has an animal cargo space divided into two or more stacked levels."

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has said studies suggest "there are increased rates of injury associated with the use of double-decked conveyances for transporting horses." According to the AVMA, "sources, such as the National Agriculture Safety Database and various manufacturers producing trailers specifically for horse transport recommend heights of 7 to 8 ft as being necessary for the safe and comfortable transport of horses (i.e., adequate headroom for the horses to stand comfortably with their heads in normal position); it appears difficult, if not impossible, to meet such recommendations via the use of currently configured double-deck trailers, particularly for taller horses."

State laws

Some states have taken action to stop the use of these trailers to haul horse to slaughter. Double decked trailers have been banned in Pennsylvania, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(e)(E.1); Massachusetts, ALM GL ch. 129, § 46, and New York, NY CLS Agr & M § 359-a, as a means of hauling horses; they have been banned in California, Cal Pen Code § 597o, and Arizona, A.R.S. § 3-1312, § 28-912, when used for hauling horses to slaughter. In Vermont double decked trailers are banned when hauling more than 7 horses. Vermont.
13 V.S.A. § 387.

Just last year, Rhode Island banned use of double decked trailers for hauling horses to slaughter.

HorsesThe trailers are allowed but their use is regulated in Connecticut, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-415, Conn. State Agencies § 22-415-2-3; Virginia, 2 VAC 5-160-10, et seq., Minnesota, Minn. Stat. § 346.38 and Maryland, Md. Agriculture Code §3-902. Enforcement of these laws, however, often requires testimony from experts.

But state laws only apply to travel within the state. A strong national law is needed to stop the use of double decked trailers to haul horses across the country and into Mexico or Canada where they are slaughtered.

This won't stop horse slaughter, but it will make it more expensive to do it.