Horses peer out from trailer. CBC.

Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2019

H.R. 1400, The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2019, was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen [D-TN-9] on February 27, 2019. As of this writing H.R. 1400 has 83 cosponsors.

Purpose: To amend title 49, United States Code, to prohibit the transportation of horses in interstate transportation in a motor vehicle containing 2 or more levels stacked on top of one another, and for other purposes.

If this bill becomes law, it will prohibit the transportation of all horses in double-deck trailers, not just those bound for slaughter.

Double deck trailers are not designed for horses. They are designed for much shorter livestock such as cattle and hogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has spoken against the use of transporting horses using double-deck trailers.

In 2017 “the AVMA cited data within the scientific literature suggesting that equines suffer 3.5 times more lacerations and abrasions in double-deck trailers compared to straight-deck trailers.”

Illustration of a double decker truck used to transport cattle. You can see that they are not intended for horses. Source: AWI.
Illustration of a double decker truck used to transport cattle. You can see that they are not intended for horses. Source: AWI.

The USDA agree with the AVMA:

“Double-deck trailers do not provide adequate headroom for equines, with the possible exception of foals and yearlings. We do not believe that trailers that have two or more permanent levels that are not collapsible can be adequately altered to accommodate adult equines, especially tall equines. A tall equine can be 8 feet tall to the top of its head when standing on all four legs and close to 12 feet tall when rearing. 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 Animal Welfare Institute, promoters of H.R.1400, reminds us of this following tragedy. There have been many more since.

“A horrific accident several years ago involving a double-deck tractor trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horses through Wadsworth, Illinois was the impetus behind federal legislation to end this inhumane and unsafe form of transportation. The crash was so severe that it took more than five hours before authorities could free the suffering horses from the mangled truck. Sadly, nine horses died on the scene, with another six dying later because of injuries sustained during the tragedy.

“It is not merely the potential for catastrophic accidents that make these trailers inhumane, however. Even absent such wrecks, the use of these trailers can lead to serious injuries of horses during transport—a point on which humane organizations, veterinary associations and the US Department of Agriculture agree”.

A emergency responder tends to a horse injured in a horrific double-deck trailer crash in 2017 near Wadsworth, Illinois. Photographer unknown.
A emergency responder tends to a horse injured in a horrific double-deck trailer crash near Wadsworth, Illinois. Photographer unknown.

The Chicago Tribune reported,

The fate of 46 horses that survived a weekend wreck in Lake County remained unclear Sunday as investigators looked into why 59 Belgian draft horses were being transported in a double-deck trailer made for cattle and pigs.

“Picture a narrow trailer, slippery as snot, a dangerous cavern filled with horses piled on top of each other, some of them kicking dangerously,” said Colleen Fisch, the coordinator for horse enthusiasts in Wisconsin who helped with the rescue. “They were all in sections too small for horses.

“For the rescuers, it was extremely dangerous.”

Memorial left by local citizens for horses killed in double-deck trailer accident that eventually killed 17. Photographer unknown.
Memorial left by local citizens for horses killed in double-deck trailer accident that took the lives of numerous horses. Photographer unknown.


Killer buyers for horse slaughter plants routinely transport horses in double-deck trailers. Horses often arrive at horse slaughter plants with horrific injuries, some trampled to death by frightened, panicked horses crammed in there with them.

Rodeo stock contractors feel they stand to suffer adverse effects if a ban on transporting in double-deck trailers is imposed. They claim to use modified versions of this type of trailer that make it safe and comfortable for horses to travel in. Others state that many have one level created with a higher clearance, and that the level with the lower floor to ceiling clearance is used to haul timed event cattle or bulls.

The agriculture community in general worry that passage of a provision like could lead to further restrictions on livestock transportation.


Go to our Contacting Congress page for directions on emailing and telephoning your lawmakers. Make note of the bill name and number before you go — H.R. 1400, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2019. Feel free to use any of the language on this page for your talking points on why your U.S. Representative should cosponsor and vote yes for this bill.

Thank you for getting involved.

2 thoughts on “Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2019”

  1. I am sick and tired of current Laws. No matter if any animal is considered for slaughter it needs protection. Untill its passed in Congress to end Slaughter once and for all. These heartless asses who sleep well and enjoy holidays don’t care for humanely treating horses. Depriving them even water, letting them suffer while they enjoy a meal or drink. If horses where human it would be same as being a POW in their treatment. Congress is not going to act, their actions have shown in the past on inactions. Their stance is not reported in any election for voters. More will continue to suffer and die.


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