AVMA backs proposal strengthening horse transportation regulations

Published on February 15, 2008
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The AVMA is supporting an amendment to commercial transportation regulations that would extend federal protections afforded to "equines" bound for slaughter.

In the Nov. 7, 2007, Federal Register, the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposed adding a definition of "equine for slaughter" among other changes to the regulations (9 CFR part 88) implementing the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act. The current regulations protect equines moved directly via commercial transportation to slaughter facilities but not equines bound for slaughter but moved first to an assembly point, feedlot, or stockyard.

To close that loophole, the agency is proposing to amend the regulations by adding a definition of "equine for slaughter" as "any member of the Equidae family being transferred to a slaughter facility, including an assembly point, feedlot, or stockyard."

As the regulations are currently written, equines sold as slaughter horses may be transported first to an assembly point in a double-deck trailer without any of the other protections afforded by the regulations, such as receiving adequate water and food prior to loading. "We believe that equines may be delivered to these intermediate points en route to slaughter for the sole purpose of avoiding compliance with the regulations," APHIS wrote.

If the amendment were approved, double-deck trailers could no longer be used to ship horses destined for slaughter to intermediate collection points. Transporting horses directly to slaughter establishments via double-deckers has been banned since Dec. 7, 2006. Current regulations, however, allow the trailers to be used when shipping slaughter horses to assembly points, feedlots, and stockyards.

In its comments supporting the amendment, the AVMA stated that the added definition makes the regulations more consistent with the intent of the law than the current regulations do. Additionally, the Association supported the double-deck trailer ban because available scientific data indicate current double-decker trailer configurations cannot adequately house taller horses.