Transporting Horses in Canada: Is that Animal Fit for the Trip?

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Anyone wanting to transport horses for business or personal use must first ensure that the animals are healthy enough to handle the stress of transportation. When in doubt, seek the advice of a veterinarian or contact the CFIA before loading animals.

To help protect horses during travel, transporters must:

  • Provide feed, water and rest at required intervals. Horses must not be transported without feed and water for longer than 36 hours, after which they must have a rest period of at least five hours before resuming their journey.
  • Provide immediate attention to animals that become unfit for transport, including veterinary treatment or euthanasia at the scene if necessary.
  • Use appropriate loading and unloading facilities and equipment, such as chutes with break-out walls, self-aligning loading docks, and ramps that slope appropriately and are properly lit.
  • Use suitable vehicles that provide adequate ventilation, non-slip footing surfaces, appropriate bedding and protection from the weather.

Vehicles must also provide adequate space and headroom to allow the horses to stand in a natural position. Transporting horses on double-deck trailers does not provide sufficient headroom for most horses. Because of their size, horses over fourteen hands can suffer head or back injuries in these vehicles. Since December 2007, the CFIA and the Canada Border Services Agency have been working together to inspect all loads of horses entering Canada in double-deck trailers for injury or undue suffering.

Everyone responsible for transporting horses must follow Canada's animal transport requirements. The CFIA recognizes that the majority of transporters treat animals with care. The few who do not may face fines or prosecution. As well, imported loads of improperly transported animals may be refused entry into Canada.

In an effort to continually improve animal health protection, the CFIA is consulting with industry and other stakeholders on new regulations that would reflect the latest science and industry practices, clarify the rules of proper animal handling and allow the CFIA to better enforce humane transport requirements.

Originally issued April 30, 2008 (Notice to Industry)

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