Thursday, July 29, 2010
The bill, H.R. 305, which could end cruel horse transports, has, however, been in committee ever since. Until now. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is expected to mark up or consider the bill this week.
What You Can Do
Find committee members here and fax or call members and urge them to vote YES on H.R. 305.
Find out if your U.S. Representative is on the committee, and, if so, be sure to tell him or her that you are a constitutent! Regardless, 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 committee members, your Representative and the House leadership through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Call the committee:(202) 225-4472 or (202) 225-9446. Fax the committee: (202) 226-1270
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 head 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 more than 24 hours at a time without food or water. Many suffer serious injuries during these arduous journeys to slaughter and are trampled and even killed.
Sometimes the upper deck collapses. There have been a number of accidents involving over full double decked trailers, most recently a horrific one in Illinois. The double decked trailer crammed with frightened Belgian horses overturned, killing 17 horses and injuring many more.