New regulations for the transportation of horses to slaughter became effective on December 7, 2001. These regulations fulfill USDA’s responsibility under the 1996 farm bill to ensure the proper care of horses without inhibiting the commercially viable transport of these animals to slaughter facilities. The regulations address the food, water, and rest that must be provided to the animals. Owner–shippers of horses are required to take certain actions in loading and transporting the animals and, in addition, certifying that the commercial transportation meets certain requirements by completing the owner–shipper certificate. Special backtags, available from the APHIS –VS District Office, are required to identify the slaughter horses during transport.
In addition, the 2001 regulations prohibit the commercial transportation to slaughter facilities of horses considered to be unfit for travel, the use of electric prods, and, beginning in 2006, the use of double-deck trailers.
The program activities have been aimed at ensuring that truckers, horse owners, stakeholders, and slaughter-plant personnel within the United States, Mexico, and Canada are conversant with the new regulations and their implementation. APHIS –VS developed and distributed a guidebook, video, truckers’ leaflet, posters, and a revised owner– shipper certificate with instructions. These materials provide useful information and guidance to stakeholders involved in handling or transporting horses to slaughter.