28 Hour Law (Animal Protection and Welfare in Transportation, US)


By Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida, FL


The 28 Hour Law (See this link for various versions and amendments) is one of the few legal protections for farm animals in the US. Originally passed in 1873, the 28 hour law relates to efforts to protect farm animals from harms associated with long durations in confinement during interstate commerce transportation. The general provisions of the Act states that a rail, express or common carrier (except for those carrying by air or water) of animals in interstate transport may not confine animals for a period longer than 28 hours without providing for the unloading of animals for feeding, water and rest. Sheep may be confined for an additional eight-hours when the 28-hour limit confinement limit is reached during the night. The 28 hour period may be extended to 36 hours at the written request of the person responsible for the shipment (the owner or receiver).

The time that lapses during the unloading and loading of animals required under this provision do not count toward the 28hour limit. Animals unloaded for feeding, watering and rest must be provided five hours of rest. The provisions of this Act do not apply when the transportation vessel has food and water provisions for transported animals.

The definition of the term animals in this statute does not include chickens.

Enforcement of the Act occurs civilly, and allows for penalties of between $100 to $ 500 per violation.

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