NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commends the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for soundly rejecting an amendment to strip language banning the transport of horses in double-deck trailers from the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.
Representative Rick Crawford, R-Ark., offered an amendment to remove this important protection for horses and highway users and it was shot down by a voice vote. The ASPCA is grateful to Ranking Member Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Representative Andy Harris, R-Md., for their strong statements in favor of retaining the ban. The massive transportation bill will now proceed to the House floor for a vote. The ASPCA joined with the Animal Welfare Institute, The Humane Society of the United States and the American Veterinary Medical Association to oppose the Crawford amendment.
“Horses should not be crammed in vehicles with ceilings so low they cannot maintain their balance or are stacked on top of each other with the risk of collapsed floors,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of Government Relations for the ASPCA. “We have witnessed devastating scenes of horses’ bodies strewn across highways in Missouri and Illinois, as well as the trauma to first responders and heavy financial burden placed on local humane societies and horse rescue groups who nurse surviving horses back to health. There is a long road ahead before this legislation is signed into law, but we will be there, every step of the journey, to ensure that the double-deck horse transport ban language remains. It is time to remove these unsafe vehicles for horse transport from our roadways.”
Double-deck trailers are designed with low ceilings for cattle and other livestock, and when horses are placed inside, they are forced to hold their heads down and can easily lose their balance, resulting in injuries, trampling and even death. Numerous accidents involving double-deck trailers have been reported, and local rescuers put their own safety at risk to help the horses. First responders are often overwhelmed at the sight of helpless and maimed horses and have a difficult time overcoming the emotional shock of these incidents. Additionally, local community shelters and horse rescues are stuck paying expensive rescue and rehabilitation costs.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed nearly identical, free-standing legislation in 2010 directly before Congress adjourned, leaving this as unfinished business from last Congress. The United States Department of Agriculture has declared, “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). The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2011 (S. 1281), authored by Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., is currently pending before the U.S. Senate. This legislation would ban the use of double-deck trailers for horse transport regardless of destination.
The ASPCA has an extensive history of equine protection around the country and continues to assist domestic and wild horses through legislation, advocacy, targeted grants and enforcement of the carriage horse laws in New York City. For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.