Carriers, veterinary inspectors and the police, among others, are responsible for the welfare of animals in transport. In the EU Member States, more than two-thirds of all animal transport is to slaughterhouses. The transport of live animals should not only be fast, but it must also take into account the specific needs of the ‘live load’.
The Chief Veterinary Inspectorate reports that detailed rules for the commercial transport of vertebrate animals are laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. According to that Regulation, only authorised transporters are allowed to transport vertebrate animals within the European Union for commercial purposes.
When selecting contractors for animal transport orders, it is essential to comply with the requirements of various types of documents, including certificates of competence and authorisation of carriers, certificates of animal transport and travel logs.
Licences for carriers and drivers
There are many companies on the market that run courses leading to the granting of licenses for escorting animals, intended for both professional drivers and companies involved in the organisation of transport. In order to obtain a licence, it is necessary to take an examination proving that you have adequate knowledge of how to load and unload animals safely, how they should be arranged for transport and how to provide assistance to sick or injured animals. The course ends with an examination before a commission appointed in accordance with a regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Persons escorting animals who have already obtained relevant qualifications may apply for a licence without the need to take the exam.
The licence for drivers and transport operators entitles them to perform activities related to the transport of animals. This document is recognized in Poland and in all European Union countries.
The driver becomes the caretaker of animals during transport, and the planned route and stops should be approved by the district vet.
District vet approval
The transport of animals for commercial purposes includes in particular what is directly or indirectly aimed at obtaining a financial advantage. Examples of animal transport for commercial purposes:
– to slaughterhouses, fairs, assembly centres, farms, collection centres;
– for exhibitions, shows and contests;
– to the zoos;
– for laboratory experiments.
No authorisation for the carrier is required when: the transport of animals is not related to the business activity carried out (e.g. transport of own horse, own means of transport for recreational purposes, transport of pet animals accompanying travellers for non-commercial purposes or transport of certain animals to grazing places where geographical conditions so require).
The Chief Veterinary Officer has issued an instruction to standardise the behaviour of local units, to approve carriers and means of road transport used for transporting animals, to carry out inspections of carriers and to carry out inspections of animal transport operations.
A company wishing to transport animals must apply to the district vet for a permit. The veterinarian must verify that the applicant has suitable vehicles for transporting animals and that the carrier has all the necessary documents.
These include a certificate of no conviction for infringements of animal welfare legislation over a period of at least three years, procedures in place to deal with unforeseen events along the route and the aforementioned licences for drivers. If the inspection is successful, the veterinarian issues the carrier with a permit for the transport of animals. This permit may not be valid for more than five years. The veterinarian must also authorise any means of transport by which animals are to be transported and the validity of the authorisation must not exceed one year.
Transport of live animals – terms and conditions
From the point of view of transport safety and comfort, not only is the general condition of the fleet important, but also the efficiency of ventilation, cleanliness, fitting with appropriate partitions, locks, as well as the condition of the floor (bedding), lighting and loading and unloading equipment. The carrier must also comply with the Regulation of the Minister of Infrastructure, which specifies the following:
– the conditions of transport,
– the length and frequency of stops on the route,
– maximum travel time.
It is also necessary to ensure the comfort of the animals in transport. Each animal must be provided with space large enough to allow it both to stand and lie down and to have access to water and feed. It is also important that the animals have the right temperature (between 5-30 degrees Celsius).
In view of the welfare of animals transported for slaughter, it is essential to plan the route carefully and to limit its duration to a minimum. This requires detailed agreements between the carrier and the shipper. Not only should the vehicles themselves be inspected and approved, but also accessories (e.g. loading and unloading equipment) that should not injure, damage or kill animals. It is also best to install a permanent visual monitoring system in the vehicle.
Animals that for some reason are not suitable for transport should not be transported. Transport should not only be carried out by species-appropriate means and at appropriate times but should also include feeding and watering breaks and rest periods and direct checks on the condition of the animals being transported. It is necessary to ensure sufficient height and space on the floor for the species and the stocking density. Where animals are found during transport to have been injured, broken or dead, the transport must be interrupted and subjected to immediate veterinary checks, with assistance to animals requiring it.