It has been illegal for a LONG time to haul horses for any reason in double deckers in PA and NY and more recently the Federal ban. From the sounds of it, this outfit does it all the time so they have been willfully breaking the law for quite a while. Truly, anyone who can condone this or defend it is truly missing the point. These people have been operating against the law for some time and people continue to withhold blame that this was just an accident and they could not have prevented it.
Lady Eboshi is right on the money in her comments.
Of course since unlike the VAST MAJORITY of most horses hauled by their owners, they probably didn't have halters or leads on, that does make it more risky to let them out but I would have done it. No way could I have stood there and let them burn without opening that door so a few could jump out. Perhaps if we didn't allow horses to be crammed into these cattle rigs loose en masse like this in the first place, they could be safely unloaded in the case of an emergency??? This sort of hauling is illegal in Europe. Slaughter horses have to have individual dividers, stalls, halters, etc....for their safety and humane handling. Another one of those DUH sorts of things that will never happen here as it makes too much sense.