Animal Welfare Institute
Monday, January 30, 2012
House Committee to Consider Bill on Thursday
At long last, a ban on the use of trailers with more than one level for hauling horses is on the verge of being considered by Congress... It is also on the verge of being derailed. While language clearly banning ALL hauling of horses by double-deck trailers is included in the Surface Transportation Extension Act, opponents are trying to undermine this modest yet important legislation.
Support for banning the use of double-deck trailers is strong, and includes the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Black Farmers Association, Animal Welfare Institute and Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. Equine rescue, humane, and professional organizations realize it is cruel and dangerous to haul horses on double-deck trailers. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture has come out against their use: "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." (9 CFR Parts 70 and 88). In fact, USDA has prohibited using these trailers for transporting horses to slaughter, but its rule doesn't cover horses being transported for any other purposes - or those supposedly being hauled for another purpose. All horses, irrespective of where they are going, deserve this important protection, and the language included in the Surface Transportation Extension Act will provide it.
On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to consider the Surface Transportation Extension Act. There are rumors that someone on the Committee might offer an amendment removing the language calling for a ban on these inhumane trailers. During the last Congress the same Committee unanimously approved the ban on double-deck trailers, and this support is needed again now. Please, can you help us?
Time is Short; Here's What You Can Do:
If your U.S. Representative is on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, please take a few minutes TODAY to call and ask him or her to support the existing language and oppose any amendment that would change it. Below is some additional information that might be useful when you call.
To find the name of your Representative and his/her phone number, please visit www.compassionindex.org. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected.
Thank you for taking action on this very important issue. Be sure to share this eAlert with friends, family, and coworkers and urge them to call in support of the language as well.
Government and Legal Affairs
Double-Deck Trailers are Inhumane and Unsafe. According to the USDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), horses require 7-8' (84"-92") ceiling clearance for safe and humane transport. Double-deck trailers often have ceilings as low as 5'5", well below the recommended minimum. Even trailers "modified" for special use have ceilings no higher than 5'11" (71"). When moved in these physically inadequate vehicles, many horses have arrived at their destination with grievous wounds on their shoulders (withers) and backs because their heads were forced into an unnatural and unbalanced position for extended periods of time during travel. Double-deck trailers, designed for shorter-necked species, like cattle and swine, do not provide adequate space for horses to retain their balance, leading to unstable footing, falls, injuries, trampling, and death.
Grisly Accidents Cost Lives, Traumatize First Responders, and Inflict Financial Burdens on Communities. Accidents in recent years have created gruesome roadside scenes of horses twisted, entangled, dead, and dying. Responders are often unprepared and left shocked by such horrifying disasters. Local communities have had to pay for the rescue and rehabilitation of the horses in many cases.
Patchwork of State Laws Exists. Six states ban the use of double-deck trailers for the transport of horses entirely (Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont). A federal law would harmonize the varying state laws that address horse transport, improve enforcement of horse transportation safety laws, and make America's roads a safer place for all interstate travelers.
USDA Regulation Doesn't Cover Non-Slaughter Horse Transport. The USDA has unequivocally stated that double-deck trailers are inhumane and unsafe and has implemented a ban on their use for the transport of horses to slaughter. Unfortunately, there is a need for Congress to do what USDA has not been able to do - prevent the use of double-deck trailers to transport horses for other purposes. No matter the destination, using double-deck trailers to transport horses is inherently dangerous to horses and to people.
We respectfully urge you to support the language in the Surface Transportation Act banning the transportation of horses on double-deck trailers. This language will make transportation safer for horses and our roadways safer for drivers. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
AVERAGE HORSE HEIGHT: 7'-7'8" (84"-92" or 15-17 hands)
AVERAGE TRAILER CEILING HEIGHT: 4'7"-5'11" (55"-71") each level
RECOMMENDED HEIGHT: 7-8' (84"-96") each level
MODIFIED RODEO TRAILER: 5'11" (71") each level
AVERAGE HEIGHT OF A HOUSE DOOR: 7' (84")