Health of Animals Regulations Part XII: Transportation of Animals-Regulatory Amendment – Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties
12.0 Weather Protection and Ventilation

12.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 146

12.2 Required Outcomes

Every animal is transported in a manner that does not expose it to adverse weather or environmental conditions that can lead to suffering, injury or death of the transported animals and every animal is provided with adequate ventilation during transportation.

12.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Each person involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, is required to ensure the protection of those animals at all times from the effects of the weather during loading, transport and unloading.  The regulated party must ensure the animal has adequate ventilation to maintain its normal body temperature at all times during the transport.

Weather Conditions: In cases where adverse weather conditions exist (e.g. excessively wet, cold, hot, or humid) the regulated party is to have a contingency plan in place to deal with such situations as per Section 139).

An animal may be exposed in its normal environment (e.g. in a barn, on pasture) to a variety of weather conditions (e.g. hot or very cold temperatures) that may cause discomfort and stress.  While this can be potentially stressful, the animal is able to adjust gradually and acclimatize if it is given sufficient time to adapt. However, when an animal is placed into a conveyance where the stresses of handling, noise, unfamiliar animals and handlers, and environments are added the animal is at risk of suffering.

The combination of distance and duration of transport with continuous or intermittent exposure to inclement weather and/or different climatic zones (such as high mountain passes, hot interior valleys, and wet coastal areas) could also cause suffering, injury or death and must be considered a risk prior to transport (see Section 140).

An animal that is exposed to the effects of the weather can suffer for many reasons including but not limited to: heat exhaustion, frostbite, profound hypothermia, and death.  Animals need to be protected from weather extremes both during the heat of summer and frigid temperatures of winter, or from dangerous combinations of either heat and humidity, or cold temperatures, wet conditions and/or high wind-chill.

Ventilation: An animal that is not provided with adequate ventilation can suffer and die from asphyxiation even during cold weather.  Overheating and asphyxiation is a significant risk in the heat of summer.  This is particularly the case when the environmental humidity is high and the temperature feels much greater due to the compounding effects of heat and humidity creating a humidex reading that is much higher than the actual temperature.  Adequate ventilation is critical when the humidex is high.

The proper balance of protection and ventilation is needed and must be determined prior to departure. Protective materials must be adjusted accordingly throughout the transit as weather conditions change, in order to ensure animals are able to maintain adequate body temperature and the ability to be provided with adequate ventilation to prevent breathing difficulties and asphyxiation.

Air flow: In general, air flows from the rear of the trailer towards the front of the trailer and exits through the side of the trailer as the conveyance moves forward. Due to this pattern of air flow, the area with the least air circulation and, therefore, with the hottest temperature on a moving trailer, is the front section just behind the tractor/truck above the front trailer axle wheels. The area with the greatest exposure to wind chill, rain, freezing rain, etc., in cold weather on a moving trailer includes the rear and the sides of the trailer. Due to the wind chill effect on a moving truck, animals may suffer from cold and frostbite even during temperatures above freezing.

During the winter, animals close to the sides on poorly equipped trailers can freeze, while animals in the middle portion can die from heat exposure. This more frequently occurs in poultry transport.

The regulated party is responsible for knowing and understanding species specific thermo-neutral zones (temperatures within which they are able to regulate their body temperatures), animal behavior, and signs of suffering of the transported animals to act appropriately when deviations are noticed.

On a stationary trailer, there is lack of air flow through the conveyance. The regulated party must consider this when the vehicle stops or slows down especially during hot days due to traffic or other reasons. Parking animal transport vehicles particularly in hot weather can result in excessive heat and CO2 buildup inside the vehicle which may cause animals to suffer and die of hyperthermia (extreme heat) or suffocation. Decreased ventilation can lead to condensation within the conveyance if the temperature gradient inside and outside of the conveyance is significant and can lead to wet animals.  When transport is resumed or when the animals are otherwise exposed to the cold, the wet animals can become hypothermic leading to suffering and even death.

When to reschedule a transport due to unacceptable weather: The regulated party is responsible for verifying weather conditions for the planned route and duration of transport prior to loading, for monitoring the weather while in transit, and for adjusting the air flow and ventilation accordingly during the trip to prevent animal suffering from exposure to the negative effects of adverse weather conditions or inadequate ventilation. In extreme weather, the regulated party may need to consider rescheduling the transport during more favorable environmental conditions.

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