Humane transportation of animals: Information for the general public
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The transportation of animals is regulated to prevent injury or suffering of all animals. All those involved in transporting or causing animals to be transported, must ensure that every animal being loaded is fit for the trip and treated humanely.
Legal requirements (humane transportation laws)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), with the help of other federal, provincial and territorial authorities, enforces the requirements for the transport of animals into, within, and leaving Canada.
Provincial governments have the regulatory authority over the on-farm care and treatment of animals in Canada.
The federal government is responsible for regulating the humane transport of animals under Part XII - Transportation of Animals of the Health of Animals Regulations which defines the conditions for humanely transporting all animals in Canada by all modes of transport.
The regulations prohibit the:
- overcrowding of animals
- transporting of animals that are unfit for transport
- loading, transporting or unloading of animals in a way that could cause injury, suffering or death
The regulations also establish the requirements for:
- knowledge and skills
- contingency plans
- assessment and monitoring of animals
- livestock, camelids or cervids of eight days of age or less
- young ruminants
- lactating animals
- space requirements
- providing food, water, and rest at specific intervals
- protecting animals from adverse weather
- providing adequate ventilation
- proper handling
- using proper containers and transport vehicles
- transfer of care documents
Officials of the CFIA monitor compliance with the regulations by:
- conducting routine inspection at strategic locations, including but not limited to points of entry to Canada, and at licensed establishments, assembly centres and roadside blitzes; and
- following up on reports of non-compliance
Humane transport regulations include all aspects of transportation
The Health of Animals Regulations, Part XII - Transport of Animals apply to all aspects of the animal transport continuum and related confinement including:
- withdrawal of feed, safe water and providing rest in preparation for transport
- selection of animals that are fit for the intended transport and confinement
- handling the animal(s) for the purpose of loading
- loading of animal(s) into conveyances, including into crates, or containers;
- transport and related confinement of animal(s)
- post transport access to feed, safe water and rest when it is required (or the animal is slaughtered)
- unloading the animal(s)
- animals (in containers) remain in transport until they are removed from the container or enter a stunning chamber for the purposes of slaughter
While the CFIA has the authority to conduct an animal transport inspection at any location where animals are or may be transported, the CFIA's approach to inspections is risk-based.
A regulated party must comply with all legal requirements. Sometimes more than one act and its regulations may apply to a situation. If the animal is unloaded at a federal slaughter plant, the CFIA's oversight includes its humane handling and slaughter under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.
What you can do
If you believe you have witnessed someone who is not following the regulations regarding loading, transporting and unloading animals (such as rough handling, inadequate weather protection, or overcrowding), do the following:
- gather as many details as possible (for example, date, time, location, license plate number)
- report this information to the CFIA as soon as possible by contacting your local CFIA office
Protection of farm animals
While producers, along with provincial authorities, are responsible for the care of animals on farm, the CFIA works to protect farm animals by:
- working closely with the provinces, territories and all stakeholders in the animal care community when animal welfare issues are identified
- working with industry to establish standards of care and biosecurity
- establishing the requirements to protect all animals during transportation
- verifying that humane transport and humane slaughter requirements are respected in all federal slaughter plants
- CFIA's prosecution bulletins
- CFIA's Administrative Monetary Penalties
- Humane transport and Animal welfare
- Bringing pets to Canada: rules for importing or travelling with animals
- Exporting terrestrial animals and animal products
- Codes of practice for the care and handling of farm animals
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