Today, Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) re-introduced the Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R.921) that would ban the transportation of horses across state lines in “double decker” trucks or trailers containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. The bill has already garnered more than 100 cosponsors and is endorsed by animal welfare groups.
Congressman Cohen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, last year applauded the inclusion of the Horse Transportation Safety Act in the House-passed Moving Forward Act. Congressman Cohen has championed the measure since 2008. This year’s version of the bill currently has 105 bipartisan cosponsors.
Horses deserve to be transported in as humane a manner as possible. Double-deck trailers do not provide adequate headroom for adult horses, and accidents involving double-deck trailers are a horrendous reminder that the practice is also dangerous to the driving public. I look forward to seeing this measure move forward as it did last year and be signed into law. — Congressman, Steve Cohen
In addition to the 105 cosponsors, the Horse Transportation Safety Act is endorsed by numerous animal welfare groups and organizations including; The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Center for a Humane Economy, American Horse Protection Society, Horses For Life Foundation, American Wild Horse Campaign, and the Texas State Horse Council.
The use of double-decker trailers has been banned by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for horses that are bound for slaughter facilities, but permitted for horses transported for other reasons — including those used in rodeos.
Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Peter King (NY-02), Dina Titus (NV-01) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) today introduced the Horse Transportation Safety Act, a measure to ensure the safe and humane treatment of horses on roads and highways by ending the exploitation of a regulatory loophole designed to ban transport of horses in double-deck trailers.
Congressman Cohen made the following statement:
“Horses deserve to be transported in as humane a manner as possible. Double-deck trailers do not provide adequate headroom for adult horses, and accidents involving double-deck trailers are a gruesome reminder that the practice is also dangerous to the driving public. I want to express my gratitude for the many years of hard work on this issue by my friend and colleague, the late Walter Jones of North Carolina.”
Congressman King made the following statement:
“I commend Representative Cohen for his leadership on this issue. It is imperative that we prevent the inhumane manner horses are sometimes transported by. It not only ensures the safety of these horses but the other drivers on the road. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation.”
Congresswoman Titus made the following statement:
“It’s past time for congress to close the loophole that encourages horses to be transported in a harmful way. I’m proud to co-sponsor this legislation to protect these beautiful animals.”
Congressman Fitzpatrick made the following statement:
“As a society, it is crucial that we protect the welfare of animals big and small. And as a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and an outspoken defender of animals, I’m committed to ensuring our government is doing its part to promote animal welfare. I’m proud to stand with Representative Cohen to make sure drivers no longer have an incentive to transport horses in unsafe conditions.”
The theme of World Horse Welfare's conference this year was: What is the Value of Horses? A spirited debate took place on whether welfare would improve if horse slaughter were banned and what is essential for good horsemanship.
At last year's conference, Princess Anne* asked if horsemeat was a welfare solution, with her comments being widely discussed in the media afterwards.
In a new format for 2014, four equine enthusiasts were asked to argue for or against the statement:
‘Horse welfare would be improved if horse slaughter were banned’
Taking to the stage to air their opinions were international dressage rider Richard Davison, Professor Natalie Waren from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones and Peter Webbon, former chief executive of the Animal Health Trust.
The key message from those who agreed with ending the slaughter of horses for meat was an emotional one – claiming we owe our equines a “debt of gratitude”.
Immoral and abhorrent
“Euthanasia is very different to slaughtering horses in an abattoir,” said Liz Jones. “It isn’t doing horses justice – we owe them a great deal of gratitude and that isn’t about getting them into the food chain. It’s a moral question – and to me it’s completely immoral and abhorrent.”
However, Peter Webbon stated the fate of the carcass – whether it was cremated, rendered or entered the food chain – is “totally irrelevant to animal welfare”.
“But anything that encourages people to have horses slaughtered without undue delay or long journeys to the slaughter house would improve welfare,” he said.
Professor Natalie Waren agreed once the animal is dead there is “neutral welfare”, but said there is no evidence that industrial slaughter is good for animal welfare.
“It’s about the quality of the animal’s last few moments,” she argued. “We do not want to objectify the horses we enjoy and that have a place in our hearts, which gives them special value.”
Richard questioned the wording of the statement, declaring the debate should be about how slaughter or euthanasia can be conducted in a more humane way.
“If you remain, like me, open minded about this you can not support this motion, as it is worded,” he said. “Abandoning slaughter won’t improve horses’ welfare. Before we consider a ban we need to look at improving methods and the conditions they are subjected to during slaughter.”
It was also argued those horses currently neglected and abandoned, would have a market value.
“Owners of these horses would be prepared to take them for slaughter, so they are no longer suffering,” said Peter. “But we need to change conditions of slaughter.”
However, Natalie raised concerns that slaughtering horses for meat would encourage the breeding of low-value horses.
“Indiscriminate breeding of poor value horses leads to neglect and abandoning, we don’t want to end up encouraging that and rewarding it by allowing slaughter as an easy option,” she said.
"If we open doors to say slaughter is the answer we are doing a disservice to a wonderful animal. In my eyes they have more value than commercially produced pig. Horses are special to us, let's keep it that way.”
Source: Horse and Country
*Princess Anne is the current president of World Horse Welfare, which was founded in 1927 as a campaigning organization to prevent the export of live British horses for slaughter. Despite all their welfare advocacy, the organization does not campaign against horse slaughter and the eating of horsemeat.
MONTH / yEAR