Animal Transport Rules Fail to Protect Animals in Five Countries, Researchers Say

Globalization has brought many benefits to the world, such as increased trade, cultural exchange, and economic growth. However, it also has a dark side that is often overlooked: the impact of live animal transport on animal welfare.

Every year, billions of animals are transported across borders, continents, and oceans, often under deplorable conditions that cause them stress, pain, and even death.

A recent study by an international team of researchers has revealed that the current regulations in five countries are not ‘fit for purpose’ and fail to protect animals during transport. This article will explore the main findings of the study and the implications for the future of live animal transport.

The Reality Behind Closed Doors

 a group of animals standing around a pile of dirt
(Photo : Bernd Dittrich/Unsplash)

The study, published in Royal Society Open Science, compared the regulations of live animal transport in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, EU (including the UK), and the US.

These countries account for a large proportion of the global trade in live animals, especially livestock. The researchers focused on four major risk factors associated with live animal transport: fitness for transport, journey duration, climatic conditions, and space allowances.

They found that none of the countries had adequate regulations to address these risks and ensure the welfare of animals during transport.

One of the most shocking findings was that none of the countries had a maximum journey duration for all animals, meaning that some animals could be transported for days without rest, food, or water.

For example, in Canada, some animals can be transported for 36 hours without feed, water, and rest.

The researchers also found that the regulations were often vague, inconsistent, or poorly enforced, leaving room for interpretation and abuse.

For instance, the EU requires that animals are transported in a way that does not cause them ‘injury or undue suffering’, but does not define what this means in practice.

The study also highlighted the lack of scientific evidence behind some of the regulations, such as the space allowances for different species and breeds.

The researchers argued that the current regulations are based on outdated or insufficient data and do not reflect the latest scientific knowledge on animal welfare.

They pointed out that some of the regulations were contradictory or illogical, such as allowing animals to be transported in extreme temperatures that would be considered unacceptable for humans.

Also Read: Over 20 Million Farm Animals in US Die Before Reaching Slaughterhouse Due to Horrific Conditions

A Call for Comprehensive Reform

The researchers concluded that the current regulations are not ‘fit for purpose’ and need to be revised and harmonized to ensure the welfare of animals during transport.

They called for a comprehensive reform that would take into account the latest scientific evidence, the ethical and social values of the public, and the economic and environmental impacts of live animal transport. They also suggested some specific measures that could improve the situation, such as:

  • Adopting a maximum journey duration for all animals and ensuring regular rest stops with adequate facilities and care.
  • Setting clear and consistent criteria for fitness for transport and prohibiting the transport of sick, injured, pregnant, or lactating animals.
  • Establishing minimum space allowances for different species and breeds based on their behavioral and physiological needs.
  • Regulating the climatic conditions inside the transport vehicles and providing adequate ventilation, heating, cooling, and bedding.
  • Improving the training and supervision of transport personnel and enforcing the regulations with effective monitoring and sanctions.

The researchers also urged for more international cooperation and coordination to address the challenges of live animal transport in a globalized world.

They pointed out that some countries have stricter regulations than others, creating an uneven playing field and a risk of ‘welfare dumping’, where animals are transported to countries with lower standards.

They advocated for the development of global standards and guidelines that would ensure the welfare of animals during transport, regardless of their origin or destination.

The study serves as a wake-up call to the public, the policymakers, and the industry to take action and improve the situation of live animal transport.

As globalization continues to expand, the demand for live animal transport is likely to increase, exposing more animals to unnecessary suffering.

Ensuring that live animal transport regulations are ‘fit for purpose’ is not only a moral duty, but also a necessity for a sustainable, humane, and ethical future.

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