Federal law, commonly referred to as the Twenty-eight Hour Law, requires that for every 28 hours of interstate transport, all animals must be provided with at least five hours of rest, during which they are offloaded from their transport vehicle and given food and water (the law only requires this to be done every 36 hours during the transport of sheep).  Unfortunately, this requirement is often ignored.  Even more shocking, this law does not apply to animals being transported by trucks, the method of transport of 95% of animals in the U.S.  Why is transportation by truck omitted from the law?  Because when the Twenty-Eight Hour Law was passed in 1877, trucks had yet to be invented.  Although the law explicitly includes “vessels of any description,” the USDA has conveniently interpreted this language to omit transportation by trucks.  As a result of this loophole, millions of animals every year are killed or injured during transport and forced to endure grueling conditions including 95 degree temperatures, lack of fresh air due to overcrowded trucks and substantial ammonia accumulation, and lack of food and water.  Investigators have reported dead animals being left for more than 30 hours on trucks still holding live animals. 

For a bit of perspective, the European Convention for the Protection of Animals During International Transport requires that animals be allowed to rest every 8 hours.  Furthermore, the EU laws specify guidelines for the amount of room, type of compartment and length of journey for the animals.  The U.S., on the other hand, lacks any such specific regulations.  For more information on this comparison (and a terrific animal rights site),

Fortunately, the HSUS, along with other animal rights organizations, has filed a legal petition with the USDA asking the agency to close this absurd loophole and interpret the Twenty-Eight Hour Law the way it was meant to be applied.

Please contact USDA Secretary Mike Johanns and implore him to grant the HSUS’s legal petition for rule-making, thereby interpreting the Twenty-Eight Hour Law to include transport of animals by truck.

Mike Johanns
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250
Phone: 202-720-3631

For more information on this issue,