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ASPCA Applauds Federal Rule to Prevent Cruel Double-Decker Horse Transport

USDA closes loophole preventing use of unsafe trailers to transport American horses to slaughter in Canada, Mexico
September 8, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) welcomes the new federal rule published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to complete the ban on the use of double-decker trailers to transport American horses to slaughter. Previously, the 2006 regulation only prevented the transport of horses in double-decker trailers if they were en route directly to slaughter plants, while the new rule extends protections to horses that are first delivered to a feedlot or stockyard during their lengthy trip to foreign slaughtering plants in Canada or Mexico.

"American horses are not raised for food, but some are purchased for slaughter by buyers for foreign slaughterhouses and trucked under painful and dangerous conditions," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "This new regulation is a good step in helping to protect those horses en route, but sadly, they will meet the same terrible end so we will continue to champion a complete ban on horse slaughter."

Despite the fact that Americans do not consume horsemeat and there is no demand for horse meat in this country, approximately 100,000 horses are purchased each year in the U.S. at local auctions by killer buyers on contract with foreign companies and then transported long distances-often more than 24 hours at a time-in cramped conditions without food, water or rest to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Designed for cattle and other livestock, these vehicles do not provide adequate space for horses to retain their balance, leading to unstable footing, falls, injuries, trampling and death. The actual process of horse slaughter is also inhumane: The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as they often endure repeated stuns or blows and sometimes remain conscious during their slaughter and dismemberment. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have introduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176) to end the live export and cruel slaughter of our nation's horses for human consumption in neighboring countries.

Perry added, "Americans have a responsibility to protect these intelligent, sensitive animals that have carried us into war, helped us settle the West, and provided us with entertainment and transportation since the dawning of our country. Our special bond with horses and the unique suffering they endure when slaughtered demand that we give them a more dignified end to their lives than to be hauled across the border and butchered in Canada and Mexico."

In June, the Government Accountability Office issued a report recommending a ban on the use of double-decker vehicles for horse transport, identifying this as a serious problem affecting the welfare of American horses sent to slaughter. The report also concluded that a ban on transport of horses to slaughter would improve horse welfare.

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 and cruelty laws in New York City. For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.