The amended Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) came into force February 20, 2020 and contains a specific provision (138.3(1)) that requires every person (this includes everyone who loads and/or causes an animal to be loaded, transported, or unloaded) to assess the animal’s capacity to withstand the loading, confinement, transport and unloading by taking into account any risk factors that could reasonably be viewed as having an impact on the animal’s capacity to withstand the loading, confining, transporting and unloading. Assembly centre staff (e.g. auction mart, assembly yards) that load, confine or transport an animal in, or unloads an animal from, a conveyance or container are also expected to ”have the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct those activities in compliance with the Humane Transport regulations, and to do a risk assessment of the animal’s capacity to withstand the loading, confinement, transport and unloading”. These include:
(a) the current condition of the animal;
(b) any pre-existing infirmity, illness, injury or condition of the animal;
(c) the space requirements for the animal;
(d) the compatibility of the animal with any other animal;
(e) animal handling and restraint methods;
(f) the expected time that the animal will be without feed, safe water and rest;
(g) the expected duration of the transport and confinement of the animal in the conveyance or container;
(h) the foreseeable delays during transport and at the destination;
(i) the foreseeable weather conditions during transport;
(j) the foreseeable conditions that may be encountered during transport that could result in sharp inclines and declines, vibration and shifting of the container or swaying of the conveyance; and
(k) the type and condition of the conveyance, container and equipment.
Every person who confines or transports an animal must also monitor (138.3(2)) the animal at a frequency to assess the animal’s capacity to withstand the continued transport, taking into account the above-mentioned risk factors.
The regulatory guidance document, available on the CFIA humane transport and animal welfare page, provides the humane transport regulations in layman’s terms. Specific sections that may be particularly useful include:
- Section 4 “skills and knowledge”,
- Section 6 “assessment and monitoring of animals”, and
- Appendix 3 provides some guidelines around the process of assessing animals prior to transport.
The transport of animals is a shared responsibility. Everyone in the process of live animal transport has a role to play, and shares in the responsibility to protect the welfare of animals being transported. The intent of the HAR is to prevent unnecessary (avoidable) suffering of animals in transport due to ignorance, negligence, lack of planning, improper use of equipment, or improper handling.
Compliance with the requirement for regulated parties to assess animals for transport will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The outcome, and which regulated party(s) is held responsible, will depend on the context and the specific situation. CFIA inspectors will evaluate what steps each regulated party took, or failed to take, to protect the animals in their care before making decisions about enforcement. It is important that all regulated parties be able to document the decisions they made and what steps they took to mitigate humane transport issues.
Most producers will also be aware of the NFACC transport code, the NFACC Dairy code of practice, and the ProAction program, which are all excellent resources and have information about assessing dairy cattle fitness prior to transport as well as some of the key issues to be aware of.
Animal Transport Team
Animal Health, Welfare & Biosecurity Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Government of Canada
Website: Humane transport and animal welfare – Canadian Food Inspection Agency