This February, AWI and Animal Outlook (formerly Compassion Over Killing) submitted a request for enforcement of the Twenty-Eight Hour Law to the Department of Justice. The Twenty-Eight Hour Law generally requires that, for every 28 hours of interstate transit, animals (pigs, cows, horses, goats, and sheep) must be offloaded for at least five hours and given food, water, and the chance to rest. The act imposes a duty upon the attorney general to bring a civil action to collect fines upon learning of violations.
As indicated in a 2020 AWI report, A Review: The Twenty-Eight Hour Law and Its Enforcement, violations of the law are likely quite frequent but tend to go unnoticed and unpunished. No monitoring is required under the law and no single agency is responsible for tracking the journeys of millions of farm animals transported each year for feeding, breeding, and slaughter. In fact, AWI is aware of no prosecution of violators of this law since the early 20th century. Mere warnings have been the only actions taken following investigations of carriers that have repeatedly flouted the law, and there is no indication that this has altered the behavior of carriers that ship animals great distances.
In summer 2021, an incident occurred involving pigs transported for over 32 hours via truck from Nebraska to California. At no point during this journey did the driver offload the pigs to provide rest, food, or water—a clear violation of the law.
Pigs transported for this length of time without a break are highly likely to experience immense suffering. On top of being deprived of food and water, the animals often experience pain, road sickness, heat stroke, discomfort from being unable to adjust their body position, and aggression from other animals frustrated by the poor conditions.
We have requested that the attorney general investigate and prosecute this carrier for violations of the law. AWI will update its members about the status of this inquiry as the situation develops and will continue to advocate for improved enforcement of laws that are intended to protect farm animals.