A little more than a week after a double-decker semitrailer packed with 59 horses overturned on an Illinois highway, a state lawmaker has offered legislation that would ban the use of such trailers to transport horses.
Interest in the issue of horse transport peaked following an Oct. 27 wreck along state Route 41 in Wadsworth, IL, about 40 miles north of Chicago. The trailer of draft horses were headed from an auction in Indiana to Minnesota when the truck’s driver ran a red light and struck a vehicle, causing the trailer to overturn, The Associated Press reported. At least 17 horses died, and dozens more were injured.
Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch, introduced a bill that would outlaw double-decker horse trailers. Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont already prohibit them.
If approved, violators in Illinois would face fines of $500 per animal. Subsequent offenses would result in fines up to $1,000 per animal.
Currently, Illinois law does not prohibit transporting horses in double-decker trailers. Federal regulations, however, do forbid double-decker horse transport if horses are on their way to slaughter facilities.
Supporters of the ban say using double-decker trailers is an inhumane way of transporting horses. Others say the practice of hauling so many horses in one trailer is also dangerous to people in other vehicles.
Opponents say lawmakers should consider all the consequences before changing the law. They cite the closure of every U.S. horse slaughterhouse that has forced horse owners to sell their horses to companies in Mexico and Canada.
Osmond’s bill – HB4162 – is in the House Rules Committee. A nearly identical bill – HB4166 – offered by Rep. Robert Molaro, D-Chicago, also is in the Rules Committee.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois in 2007, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor