Health of Animals Regulations Part XII: Transportation of Animals-Regulatory Amendment – Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties
7.0 Transport of Unfit Animals

7.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations Section 141 (1)-(6)

7.2 Required Outcomes

Animals that are identified as unfit prior to loading as per any of the descriptors in Section 136 (1) are not loaded for transport except under the advice of a veterinarian for diagnosis, care or treatment and only if adequate measures are taken to prevent any additional suffering.

Animals that become unfit during transport, are promptly provided with measures or actions required to minimize their further suffering and to prevent further injury or unintended death. These actions can be either immediate humane killing, or promptly taking measures to improve the comfort and reduce the suffering of the animal while it is taken to the nearest place where it can be humanely stunned/killed or, under the advice of a veterinarian only, where it can be cared for by the veterinarian. An animal that becomes unfit during transport as per 136 (1) unfit (a-h and q) are never unloaded while conscious unless they are under veterinary care and unloaded for diagnosis, care or treatment.

7.3 Guidance to regulated parties

An animal that is unfit prior to loading (Section 141 (1)): all parties directly (e.g. handlers, transporters) or indirectly (e.g. producers, processors) involved in the process are to take measures to ensure that animals are assessed for fitness prior to transport.  It will avert animal suffering, possible findings of non-compliance, economic losses and unplanned delays.  Any animal that is deemed unfit as per the descriptors of unfit in 136(1) are not to be loaded except in the specific case identified in the next paragraph below. This must be a priority for all persons involved in any aspect of animal transport.  All persons determined to be involved directly or indirectly in the decision and the actions related to loading of an unfit animal may be considered to be in non-compliance with the Regulation.

An animal that is loaded and unloaded for diagnosis, care or treatment under the advice of a veterinarian (Section 141 (2) and (5)):  For example, a producer may desire care and treatment for an unfit animal or wish to have a diagnosis performed on the animal in order to determine cause of illness.  In such a case, a veterinarian is to be engaged.  It is important that the unfit animal is loaded only when it can be loaded and transported as per the veterinarian's instruction and with proper provisions to maximize its well-being.  These may include provisions such as deep bedding, splints, hydration, specialized loading and unloading and additional climate control for the conditions.  Drivers must be mindful that they are transporting an unfit animal and drive accordingly only for short distances, and directly to the destination.  Unfit animals, if transported under veterinary advice, must be segregated from all other animals.  See section 149 –Segregation.

An animal that becomes unfit during transport (Section 141 (3)): all parties directly or indirectly involved in the continued transport of an animal that was loaded as fit or compromised with provisions but becomes unfit while in transit are to work promptly to end the suffering of that animal.  This can be because an animal was negatively impacted by transport stresses or because an incident occurred within the conveyance to cause harm to the animal.  The transporter will be required to make adjustments to the travel itinerary to accommodate the unfit animal.  The regulated party is strongly encouraged to have accurate, up-to-date, readily available contact information for all suitable places along the route in their contingency plan (see Health of Animals Regulations section 139) and the driver(s) must be able to contact a veterinarian before and during transportation for advice and must follow that advice. The regulated party, or parties, have three options after quickly providing measures to make the animal as comfortable as possible:

  1. Contact a veterinarian to request advice on whether the animal can continue to be transported a short distance for care and treatment and what further measures can be taken to see to the animal's well-being.
  2. Transport it to the nearest place where it can be humanely stunned/killed.  Once humanely stunned – as per the definition in 136 (1), it is unable to feel pain and can be unloaded for humane killing.  Alternatively it can be humanely killed while on the conveyance in which it was found to have become unfit. The nearest place in this instance is not limited to being on the advice of a veterinarian, since the intention is to end the animal's suffering as quickly as possible by humanely killing it, irrespective of the location.
  3. Humanely kill the animal immediately where it lies using generally approved methods and well maintained equipment

For example, in the case of an animal that becomes non-ambulatory during transit; the remainder of the journey is 8 hours to a federal plant will require a schedule adjustment to allow for either prompt humane killing of the animal or to find the nearest suitable place to have the animal humanely killed or in some cases cared for under the advice of a veterinarian, etc.  Provisions to minimize the animal's suffering while it remains on the conveyance on route to the nearest suitable place may include segregation of the animal to protect it, additional bedding, water, to call the processor.

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 the unfit animal can receive veterinary care, or treatment, or be humanely stunned/killed.  An animal that becomes unfit as per section 136 (1) (a-h) and (q) cannot be unloaded while conscious unless for care and treatment and only under a veterinarian's direction to provide the care and treatment.

Auction Markets and Assembly Yards, with Respect to an Animal that Becomes Unfit During Transport:

An animal that becomes unfit during transport must be transported directly to the nearest suitable place to avoid further suffering. In dire circumstances, this can include an auction market or assembly yard only for the purpose of care/treatment/humane killing. These animals cannot however be unloaded while conscious at these venues unless under veterinary supervision.

An animal that was considered to be unfit before loading is not to be loaded except for transport to a veterinarian for care and treatment and only under that veterinarian's instruction, and therefore must never present to an auction market or assembly yard.

Exceptions allowing the unloading of an unfit animal (Section 141(5):

  1. An animal that is being transported for diagnosis, care or treatment on the advice of a veterinarian may be unloaded while conscious.
  2. An animal that may be easily and manually lifted out of the container may be unloaded from the container while conscious to be humanely killed.
  3. An animal that is unfit as per Section 136 (1) unfit (i-p).
  4. An animal that has been humanely stunned on the conveyance.
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