Livestock Transport Requirements in Canada

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Your Responsibility

Every person responsible for transporting animals in Canada must ensure that the entire transportation process including loading, transit and unloading - does not cause injury or undue suffering to the animals.

The federal requirements for animal transport are covered under the Health of Animals Regulations, Part XII. They are enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with the assistance of other federal, provincial and territorial authorities.

These federal requirements regulate the transport of pets, livestock, and exotic animals by all modes of transport - land, air and sea. Some provinces also have additional regulations related to animal transport.

Federal requirements for transporting livestock define:

  • the conditions under which an animal is considered unfit for travel; and
  • the transportation practices to be used during loading, transit and unloading.

It is the responsibility of both the transporter and any person having livestock transported to ensure all animals being shipped are fit for the trip. This should be done by someone familiar with the animals or a veterinarian.

Compromised Animals

Compromised animals are fragile. They cannot handle the stress of transportation very well, due to such causes as injury, fatigue, poor health, distress, or very young or old age. Depending on their condition, compromised animals fall into two categories - those that can't be transported and those that can only be transported with special provisions.

The transporter and/or the person having livestock transported must determine which category a compromised animal falls into.

Never transport an animal unless you are sure it is healthy enough to handle the stress of transportation. If you are not sure, seek the advice of a veterinarian or contact the CFIA before preparing the animal for loading.

Compromised Animals: Do Not Transport

Some animals are completely unfit for transport. In this case, you must delay transport until the animal is fit for the trip if it is humane to do so (for example, when an animal has recently given birth). If delaying transport could result in undue suffering and if the animal is unlikely to get better on its own, the animal must either be treated or euthanized on site.

Some examples of conditions where animals must not be transported include (but are not limited to):

  • an inability to stand without assistance or to move without being dragged or carried;
  • a fracture that considerably hampers mobility or is likely to cause severe pain when the animal is being loaded or transported;
  • dehydration;
  • exhaustion;
  • shock or impending death;
  • a suspected or confirmed nervous system disorder;
  • fever;
  • uterine prolapse;
  • a hernia that impedes movement, is painful on palpation, touches the ground when the animal is standing in its natural position, or has an open skin wound, ulceration, or obvious infection.

Compromised Animals:Transport Only with Special Provisions

If you can take steps to prevent additional injury or undue suffering, you can move some compromised animals. Transport these animals for immediate slaughter directly to the nearest appropriate slaughter establishment, keeping transport time to a minimum. On the advice of a veterinarian, you can transport a compromised animal to a veterinary clinic for treatment or diagnosis.

Some examples of conditions where animals may only be transported with special provisions include (but are not limited to):

  • frostbite;
  • bloat (if not weak or already down);
  • laboured breathing;
  • penis injury;
  • blindness in both eyes;
  • an amputated or missing limb;
  • rectal or vaginal prolapse;
  • a recent operation such as dehorning or castration that has not fully healed;
  • a recent birth (the animal has delivered in the past 48 hours);
  • an open wound with bleeding and/or exposed bone.

If you are not sure what special provisions to take when moving a compromised animal, always ask a veterinarian. He or she may suggest, for example:

  • emergency veterinary care prior to transport;
  • providing extra bedding;
  • loading the animal last and unloading it first;
  • separating it from other animals in the shipment; or
  • transporting it with a familiar animal to help it remain calm.

Transportation Practices

It is illegal to cause undue suffering to an animal at any point in the transportation process. Practices that can help protect animals during transportation include:

  • using loading and unloading facilities as well as containers and transport vehicles suitable to the animals being loaded;
  • using movement devices (e.g. pig boards) that do not frighten the animals or cause injury or undue suffering;
  • providing adequate space and headroom for animals to stand in a natural position;
  • providing feed, water and rest at required intervals;
  • providing adequate ventilation for all animals;
  • providing non-slip, textured footing surfaces suitable to the animals being transported;
  • providing protection from the weather; or
  • providing immediate attention, including veterinary treatment at the scene if necessary. If an animal becomes unfit for transport during the trip, it must be cared for, treated or euthanized.

Is That Animal Fit for the Trip?

If you are responsible for transporting animals, you must be familiar with and follow Canada's animal transport requirements. If you do not comply with the regulations, you could be fined or prosecuted. If your actions or neglect are considered animal abuse, you could also be charged and convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada and/or provincial regulations.

If you are not sure an animal is fit for the trip, contact a veterinarian or the CFIA.

Cat. No.: A104-33/2007
ISBN 978-0-662-49079-1

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