Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Time to revisit animal transport rules

March 3, 2016 Sayara Thurston, HSI/Canada

Many of us dread going outside during winter, and we couldn’t imagine enduring the cold for long periods of time, especially without proper gear.

But that’s exactly what farm animals in our country’s meat supply system routinely endure. Animals in transport are forced onto open trucks that travel through the bitter cold at high speeds, causing injury, stress, and for millions of animals each year, death.

Federal law says animals must not face “undue exposure to the weather” that causes them “undue suffering.” However, neither term is defined, leaving it up to up to livestock producers, drivers and slaughter facilities to interpret how cold is too cold and how much suffering is too much.

Sometimes animals aren’t transported on the coldest days of the year, but in much of the country, most days between December and early March expose animals to conditions that will inevitably cause suffering. It’s a national shame that in 2016, federal law doesn’t require farm animals to be transported in temperature-controlled vehicles.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau and agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay have an opportunity this year to update standards covering animals in transport, which has been in the works for decades.

Delays to these updates have presumably been driven by former governments’ desires to keep animal use industries, and the rural votes they bring, on side by allowing them to perpetually put off investing in infrastructure and training that other jurisdictions have required for years.

For example, it is illegal in the European Union to transport animals in open trucks when the temperature falls below 0 C or rises above 35 C.

It seems hard to find any explanation — save an underlying political one — for successive ministers to delay desperately needed, common sense improvements to standards covering animals in transport. Indeed, this is an issue people already support, in a very real sense.

Think of the public outcry that ensues when a callous person leaves a dog locked in a closed-up car on a hot summer day. Some U.S. jurisdictions are even contemplating giving bystanders the right to smash a car window to save a trapped animal.

We already care about animals as a society, and the idea of a family pet overheating in a vehicle to the point of death while its owners pick up the dry cleaning is harrowing. Yet the federal government continues allowing millions of farm animals, which are every bit as sensitive to pain, fear and stress as our pets, to die as a result of being transported in extreme weather.

MacAulay must seize the new government’s mandate to bring Canada out of the dark ages on this issue and introduce firm new regulations protecting animals during transport.

In an era of free trade agreements and smartphone journalism, allowing industries to continue a self-regulated race to the bottom is in no one’s interest. Trading partners and Canadian consumers are increasingly asking questions about where their food comes from and how animals are treated.

If those questions can’t be sufficiently answered by MacAulay and the agricultural sector, rest assured they’ll be answered on YouTube. And while Canadian laws may not define how much suffering is too much, the Canadian public certainly will. 

Comment: Please write and ask that immediate steps be taken to publish draft updates to the sections of the Health of Animals Regulations concerning the transportation of animals in Canada. For decades now, Canadians have been asking for an overhaul to our shamefully outdated transport regulations, yet the federal government has continued to delay and drag its feet on this important issue.

We have a new government in power so please take action and be a voice for the innocents. If you are not already vegan, please consider it.

Read more: Canadian farm animal transport laws atrocious; Health of Animals Regulations; Compromised Animals Policy; comparing the US, Europe, & Canada's transport reg's; truck fire, 1000s of chickens perish, SK piglets die in truck crash; 2019 update Gov't bows to industry

Lilydale faces charges for transporting chickens in freezing weather; a repeat offender, guilty & fined $160,000, Maple Lodge Farms conviction; chicken processing plant, Hallmark sued

See more on our Factory Farming page