After a double-deck trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horse yearlings collided with a pickup truck in Illinois Oct. 27, the carnage triggered outrage among many in the equestrian community. Nine horses died at the accident scene, six had to be euthanized shortly afterward, and several other horses that were severely injured died in the days following the tragic event.
As a result of the Oct. 27 accident, new legislation was introduced Nov. 2 that will outlaw double-deck horse transport if passed. HB4166, which amends the Humane Care for Animals Act, was introduced by Illinois Rep. Robert S. Molaro. The legislation provides that “no person may transport any equidae in a vehicle or trailer containing two or more levels of equidae, one on top of the other.” The legislation also establishes penalties for the illegal transport of horses.
Currently, 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.
If the Illinois legislature passes HB4166, it will join New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont in outlawing double-deck horse transport for all horses, no matter their final destination.