Studies published in peer-reviewed journals and the professional experience of veterinarians indicate that more equines are injured during transport in double-deck trailers than in single-deck trailers. The AVMA supports the use of best practices when transporting animals and therefore opposes the use of double-decked trailers to transport equines. In addition, the AVMA encourages state and federal agencies that govern the transport of equines to adopt rules, regulations, and enforcement provisions that ensure equines are transported humanely.
In general, the AVMA believes conveyances used to transport equines must be designed, constructed and maintained to protect the health and welfare of the equines being transported at all times.
Equine health risk factors associated with inadequate trailer construction include, but are not limited to:
- trailer and ramp flooring that fails to fully support all horses being conveyed;
- sharp protrusions that can cause injury;
- windows and upper doors that can no longer open fully to provide necessary ventilation nor close completely to prevent drafts.
Properly constructed trailers will:
- accommodate segregation of stallions and aggressive equines so that no stallion or aggressive equine can come into contact with other equines on the conveyance;
- have sufficient interior height to allow each equine on the conveyance to stand with its head extended to its fullest normal postural height;
- not comprise animal cargo space that is divided into two or more stacked levels (conveyances with collapsible floors may be configured to transport equines on one level only, so long as the collapsed configuration meets the height requirements previously specified); and
- be equipped with doors and ramps of sufficient size and location to allow safe loading and unloading.
Proper loading will ensure that each equine is provided with sufficient space to shift its weight as needed, and is not crowded in a way that is likely to cause injury or discomfort.