Many people in the equine community are outraged after a double-deck trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horse yearlings collided with a pickup truck in Illinois Oct. 27, leaving 15 horses dead and many others injured. Firefighters and rescue workers spent more than five hours trying to free trapped horses from the wreckage.
Nine horses died at the accident scene and another six died later or had to be euthanized. According to reports, the horses were being shipped from Millersberg, Ind., and were headed to Verndale, Minn. The driver of the pickup, Larry Hanlin, 67, of Libertyville, Ill., was treated and released from an area hospital.
Equine welfare groups have long called for legislation to ban the transport of horses in double-deck trailers. The federal Commercial Transportation of Horses to Slaughter Act bans double-deck trailers to transport horses, but it applies only to horses transported directly to slaughter; it does not apply to rodeo stock contractors or horse dealers, according to Christine Berry of the Equine Protection Network. “It is nothing more than a ‘paper tiger’ that legalized every inhumane practice identified in the Transport of Horses to Slaughter Act and puts the very people identified as the abusers, and in some cases convicted of cruelty to horses, in charge of the horse’s welfare,” she says.
“This accident is justification for introduction and swift passage of the Illinois Horse Transport Law that will prohibit the use of inhumane double-deck trailers to transport any horse, no matter what its final destination,” Berry continues.
Only a few states have laws on the books that completely ban equine double-deck transport. Berry hopes this tragic event will motivate some state lawmakers, including those in Illinois, to take action. “I know the people of Illinois want this inhumane transport outlawed,” she says.