New Animal Transport Regulations Get Failing Grade

OTTAWA—National animal law organization Animal Justice is criticizing much-anticipated new federal animal transport regulations as deeply disappointing and woefully inadequate, prioritizing the convenience and profits of animal-use industries at the expense of animal welfare.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency just released proposed amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations—the rules that govern the treatment of farmed animals during transportation. Canada’s current regulations are decades old and considered by experts to be the worst in the Western world, even though evidence shows animal transportation is incredibly stressful, with injuries and death being common. Up to 8 million animals arrive dead at the slaughterhouse or else so sick or injured that they aren’t considered fit for human consumption.

The proposed transport amendments fail to protect animals from severe suffering, including long distance transport, extreme weather conditions, and electric prods.

“The government has dragged its heels on bringing Canada’s animal transport laws into the 21st century. The proposed new rules confirm that regulators are more concerned with protecting the profits and convenience of Big Ag than they are with modernizing our welfare laws to protect animals from severe suffering,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy with Animal Justice. “Forcing animals to endure long journeys without food, water and rest while being exposed to extreme, injurious and sometimes fatal weather conditions is inexcusable.”

In 2014, Animal Justice led a coalition of animal protection organizations in providing recommendations to the federal government about updating transport regulations, and urging it to do so quickly. Those evidence-based recommendations have largely been ignored.

The length of time the new regulations allow animals to be transported without access to food, water or rest, continues to be unacceptably long, exceeding most of the developed world. Pigs and horses will be transported for up to 28 hours; cows for up to 36 hours; and chickens for up to 24 hours, including hens from egg laying farms, who are extremely fragile and die at high rates during transportation, especially during longer trips.

Even “compromised” animals can be transported for up to 12 hours—including animals with acute frostbite, in heavy lactation, or with rectal or vaginal prolapse; and wet birds, among other injuries and impairments.

The proposed regulations almost entirely fail to protect animals from freezing, wet winter weather and hot, humid summer weather when they are transported in Canada’s open-sided transport trucks. Although this has been a main source of criticism from animal welfare advocates, the new rules simply reword the existing, inadequate provisions. Transporters are still not required to have any insulation or ventilation, or to monitor temperature and humidity conditions on trucks.

By contrast, in the European Union, vehicles are required to be fitted with forced air and heating ventilation systems that keep the trucks—whether stationary or moving—between 5 and 30 degrees Celsius. The parts of the truck most likely to experience the worst climatic conditions must be fitted with monitoring systems that alert the drivers when the temperature reaches either limit; the data from these systems must be made available to law enforcement upon request.

Canada’s proposed regulations also don’t prohibit the use of electric prods; they don’t even prohibit using electric prods on animals who can’t stand—even though it has been documented that this occurs. It’s inexcusable that electric prods, which deliver painful electric shocks, would be used when nobody’s safety is at risk.

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The new transport regulations can be found here.

Further information about Canadian and international transport regulations can be found here.

For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
[email protected]