July 28, 2008

Rhode Island has become the sixth US state to ban the use of double-deck trailers transporting horses, no matter what their final destination is.

Each horse is a separate violation in Rhode Island, with the first offence carrying a fine of $US500 and a second offence doubling the fine to $US1000.

The Equine Protection Network (EPN) praised the state's move, pointing to the deaths of 55 horses across three states in a three-year period as evidences of the dangers of carting horses in double-deck transporters:

The Illinois accident inspired the new Rhode Island law, which took just 17 days to pass into law.

"How many more horses have to be killed ... before the state legislatures are going to stop wasting taxpayer money and the legislatures' time holding committee hearings on an issue that is not rocket science?" asked EPN's Christine Berry.

She said Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri - all states with an active Farm Bureau - have failed miserably to pass legislation banning what she called unsafe and inhumane trailers.

"This is not rocket science requiring studies to determine whether or not horses can be transported safely and humanely in double deck trailers. If these trailers were safe and humane for horses, the leading commercial horse transport companies would have been using doubles years ago.

"I have yet to read a published study advocating the use of these trailers to the horse industry. I have yet to open a horse magazine trailer issue with a double decker in it, nor have I attended a horse trade show and seen a double decker being offered for sale to the horse industry," says Berry.

"It is about time the Farm Bureau and the State Legislatures start using good old common horse sense."

Berry has advocated for passage of legislation banning doubles for all horses no matter what their final destination since 1996, resulting in the passage of the PA Horse Transport Law of 2001, the strongest law of its kind in the United States and a model for Rhode Island and the recently introduced federal bill, HR 6278.

For three years, Berry investigated the transport of horses in doubles from Pennsylvania to New York, reporting violations to the New York State Police and Pennsylvania State Police, resulting in numerous convictions under the NY's Horse Transport Law and PA's Cruelty Law.

Berry also traveled for two and a half years in horse vans with Triple Crown and Olympic Champions during her employment with a leading horse transportation company.