Health of Animals Regulations Part XII: Transportation of Animals-Regulatory Amendment – Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties
1.0 Introduction

Transportation is one of the most stressful events that an animal will experience during its life due to the unfamiliar surroundings, noises, vibrations and movements, the proximity to humans, handling and unfamiliar animals, exposure to adverse conditions, and the lack of access to feed and water. An animal's condition can deteriorate quickly in these circumstances. The proposed regulatory amendment has modernized the previous Transportation of Animals regulations to improve animal welfare during this critical time.

This document has been produced to provide interpretive guidance for regulated parties on the proposed regulatory amendments to the Government of Canada's Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) Part XII – Transportation of Animals. Amendments to Part XII of the HAR are being proposed to better align Canada's requirements with current industry practices, international standards, new science and societal expectations about the proper care and transport of all animals into, within and out of Canada. The proposed amendments to Part XII have been pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I (CGI).

The humane treatment of animals during transport is a shared responsibility between individuals who may be involved at any stage of the process. The process of animal transport begins with planning the transport, assembling the animals, loading, confinement in a crate or conveyance for the purpose of transport, transporting the animals and ends with unloading the animal from the conveyance or container.

This interpretive guidance document is based on the proposed amendments to Part XII of the HAR. Since the amended Regulations have not yet come into force this document may be further revised. Therefore, the public is advised to consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website for an updated version of this document following publication in Canada Gazette Part II.  In addition, subscribers to CFIA's Email Notification Subscription (Listserv) will be notified of any changes.

1.1 Regulatory Authority

The CFIA has the authority to enforce and administer the federal Health of Animals Act (HAA) and the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR). Subparagraph 64(1)(i)(ii)(iii) of the HAA provides authority to make regulations for the transportation of animals into, within or out of Canada.

1.2 Regulated Parties:  Who will be subject to these regulations?

The proposed amendments of Part XII apply to those involved directly or indirectly in the transport of live animals. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • animal owners,
  • producers,
  • buyers,
  • exporters,
  • importers,
  • transporters,
  • animal handlers,
  • processors,
  • auction markets,
  • assembly yards, and
  • feed, water and rest stations.

1.3 Regulated activities: where does the regulatory authority for animal transport begin and end?

The proposed amendments of Part XII apply to all modes of transport including aircraft, carriage, motor vehicle, trailer, railway car, vessel, crate, cargo container or any other conveyance or contrivance used to move animals.

The proposed amendments of Part XII apply to all aspects of animal transport starting with:

  1. handling the animal(s) for the purpose of loading,
  2. loading the animal(s),
  3. transporting the animal(s), and
  4. unloading the animal(s).

In the case of poultry, rabbits and other animals transported in crates or containers, transport begins when the first animal is handled to be placed into a crate or container, and ends when the last animal is removed from the crate or container, or if it is to be stunned without removing it from the crate, when the crate enters the stunning chamber (e.g. Controlled Atmosphere Stunning Systems).  For other animals not transported in a crate or container, the transport starts when the first animal is handled to be loaded and ends when the last animal is unloaded from the conveyance.

The HAR does not apply to non-transport-related animal welfare issues such as the general handling and treatment of animals on farms.  These are covered by other legislation such as provincial legislation, and animal welfare legislation. The CFIA lists all provincial regulations on its website for easy access.

1.4 Inspections: where can an inspection occur?

To ensure federal transportation regulations are respected, CFIA undertakes routine inspections at strategic locations such as at points of entry into Canada, at federally and provincially registered slaughter establishments, at auction markets and at assembly yards, etc. however CFIA can conduct an animal transport inspection at any time at any location. CFIA also conducts randomized roadside inspections and follows up on complaints or reports of possible non-compliance.

A single observation may not be sufficient on its own to confirm compliance and a more detailed inspection may be required if the inspector suspects or has reasonable grounds to suspect, that the observed condition(s) may be non-compliant with the Regulations.

1.5 About this Interpretive Guidance:  How will this document assist me in understanding the regulations?

The intent of this document is to provide descriptions, explanations and examples of how to interpret the amended HAR.  This additional information may assist the regulated party in complying with the regulations.  This document does not guarantee compliance with the HAR. It is not a legally binding document however, it may be used to interpret the intent of the HAR whenever sought. The regulated party is responsible for considering the many factors that affect animals during transportation.

The sections of this guidance document are not intended to be read in isolation. Animal welfare depends on several factors and therefore, the regulated party is encouraged to read and consider all sections.

In case of doubt on how to comply with these regulations (Part XII), the regulated party is encouraged to read this document and if additional clarity is required, to seek advice.

This guidance document is a "living" or "evergreen" document which may be periodically revised and updated based on advances in relevant science, technologies, review of implementation experiences, revisions to the Health of Animals Regulations, and feedback from regulated parties, the public, CFIA staff and trading partners. As such, stakeholders are encouraged to access the most recent version for guidance when needed.

1.6 What is not within the scope: what might I need that is not covered in this document?

This guidance document is not intended to provide comprehensive education about all aspects of animal loading, transport and unloading to a person who has no background in animal transport.

This document contains links to on-line reference documents that may provide additional or supportive information.  These are not intended to be a complete list of references.

1.7 References to other documents

Recognizing the online availability of numerous documents regarding animal welfare during transport and to avoid duplication, this guidance document does not contain information that is available elsewhere. For example, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals (NFACC): TransportationFootnote 1 (also referred to as the "Transport Code"), and other species-specific Codes that were developed by NFACC contain relevant and valuable information on the welfare of animals prior to loading and during transport. The Codes of Practice are developed under the direction of the NFACCFootnote 2.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code Animal WelfareFootnote 3, Section 7, provides information on the transport of animals by sea, land and air in chapters 7.2-7.4.

The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Live Animals RegulationsFootnote 4 provide information on the transport of animals by air and are available for purchase online.

Some provinces have additional legislation for animal transport.  Regulated parties are encouraged to access the regulations of provinces in which they operate.

1.8 Additional information

1.8.1 Assessment of Animal Fitness to apply to Section 7.0 (Unfit) and Section 8.0 (Compromised)

The Health of Animals Regulations require that an animal must be fit for the intended transport process before transportation begins, and must remain fit throughout. It is important to note that some animals are moved multiple times and held for prolonged periods and their fitness can deteriorate significantly with each move.  When assessing fitness, all parties involved in the transport of animals whether directly or indirectly are urged to consider the ability of the animal to tolerate the possibility of multiple loadings and unloadings.

1.8.2 Nearest Suitable Place to apply to Section 141(3)(a), 142(1)(d) and 142 (4)(b)

The Health of Animals Regulations often refers to a "nearest suitable place" where an animal can receive care, treatment or can be humanely killed. This refers to a place that is the closest to the current location of the animal(s) in question and that is accessible, equipped, willing and qualified to care for, treat, or humanely kill the compromised or unfit animal(s). The regulated party is encouraged to keep an updated list of these places along their transport route(s) in their contingency plan. See section 139(1)-(2) for Contingency Plan.

The nearest suitable place can be a veterinary hospital, a farm, a slaughter establishment, an auction market or an assembly yard, or any other suitable place provided this place is the nearest suitable place where this compromised or unfit animal can receive competent care, treatment, or be humanely killed.

It is important to note that the nearest suitable place may in some cases include auction markets or assembly yards while in other cases it may not; the difference is dependent on the point at which an animal became compromised or unfit.  In the case of unfit or compromised animals, this could only occur when the animal becomes unfit or compromised while in transit. See 7.3 Auction Markets and Assembly Yards, with respect to Unfit Animals and/or 8.3 Auction Markets and Assembly Yards, with respect to Compromised Animals.

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