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

8.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 142 (1)-(6)

8.2 Required Outcomes

Every animal that is identified as compromised prior to loading as per any part of the descriptors in Section 136(1) are loaded and transported with necessary measures to minimize their suffering (i.e. segregated, loaded last and unloaded first and transported directly to the nearest place, other than an auction market or assembly yard to receive care or treatment or to be humanely killed).

Animals that become compromised during transport are promptly provided with measures to minimize their suffering, injury or death and they are transported directly to the nearest place to receive care or treatment or to be humanely killed. If the nearest place to care for an animal that becomes compromised during transport is an auction market or assembly yard, the animal is not to be marketed or assembled for further transport.

Animals that have a condition rendering them both compromised and unfit, as per 136 (1) will be considered unfit. If in doubt whether an animal is compromised, unfit, the regulated party is encouraged to assume that it is unfit and treated accordingly.

8.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

An animal that is compromised prior to loading (Section 142(1) (3): all parties involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, must ensure that each animal is assessed prior to loading to determine whether each animal is fit for transport. It will avert animal suffering, possible findings of non-compliance, economic losses and unplanned delays.  Compromised animals may be transported directly to an appropriate place (e.g. veterinary hospital or slaughter facility) that has the required facilities, equipment and materials to care, treat or humanely kill the animal.

Any animal that is deemed compromised prior to loading as per 136(1) may be transported however require that certain measures be taken to minimize additional suffering such that:

  • the animal is segregated from other animals (one familiar animal is permitted if it is not likely to cause injury to the compromised animal) and is loaded last and unloaded first
  • the animal is moved the shortest distance possible and is cared for or humanely killed in a manner that does not add to its suffering
  • the animal is moved directly to its final destination, with no unloading and re-loading en route
  • the animal is not taken to an auction market or assembly yard
  • the animal is provided with access to feed, water and rest in intervals of no more than 12 hours 159.1 (2)(a)

Additional measures such as protection from inclement weather, a reduction in loading density, provision of water may also minimize the likeliness of the animal further suffering.  It is easier to plan how to deal with a compromised animal before loading than to have to adjust the transport plans if an animal becomes compromised while in transit.

Because transport is extremely stressful to animals, animals that are compromised prior to loading can be expected to deteriorate rapidly and may become unfit as per the definition of unfit in 136(1). For example, an animal that is mildly lame prior to loading can become extremely lame or even non-ambulatory after negotiating ramps during loading, working to maintain its space and balance on the conveyance, and being exposed to the unfamiliar stresses of transport such as a feed, water and rest restrictions, confined space, large numbers of unfamiliar animals, noises, movements and to protect itself from injury.

An animal that is compromised prior to loading must not be transported to an auction market or assembly yard.  The reason for this prohibition is to protect animals from suffering by repeated loading, unloading and by exposing them to the stress of being in a new environment. In addition, this prohibition protects auction markets and assembly yards from becoming a repository of sick and injured animals.

An animal that becomes compromised during transport (Section 142(4): In the case of an animal that appears to be fit prior to loading but become compromised during the journey; the transporter will be required to make adjustments to accommodate the compromised animal.  For example, a planned journey to a slaughter plant may require a schedule adjustment to allow for segregation of the animal to protect it, to add bedding, to provide water. 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).

It is extremely important to be aware of the condition of the animals in the load and frequent assessments of the animal in the load are imperative; ideally loads should be verified every 3-6 hours. Regulated parties found to be transporting animals that are compromised without having provided suitable measures minimize the risk of injury, suffering or death will be considered to be in non-compliance.

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 animal can receive care, treatment, or be humanely killed.  In cases where the nearest suitable place cannot be reached within 12 hours from last access to feed and water and rest, the compromised animal must be humanely killed.

If the nearest place is an auction market or assembly yard that the animal is not to be moved through any standard marketing processes such as auction sale or assembled for further transport.

Auction Markets and Assembly Yards with Respect to an Animal that Becomes Compromised during Transport:

An animal that becomes compromised 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 or humane killing.

Multiple Compromised Animals: If more than one compromised animal is being transported, each is to be handled in a manner that allows it to be transported without additional suffering.  Each needs to be protected and segregated from other animals (except one familiar animal) and they should be loaded last and unloaded first.

Compromised Poultry:

All outcomes listed above apply to compromised poultry with the following modifications:

  • Compromised poultry may be transported without segregation.
  • Compromised poultry can be loaded and unloaded in any order.
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