Friday, March 11, 2016

Live Animals as Freight May Get Better Deal with Imposition of New Guidelines

Stakeholders Rules Can Protect Transport Operators Authority and Driver CPC
Shipping News Feature
EUROPE – In the world of European trade and politics one often finds some strange bedfellows, a case in point being the various stakeholders who have contributed to a publication of practical guidelines concerned with the fitness of animals for transport, specifically equidae, that is horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids. Shipping live animals is often a controversial subject, particularly when they may be bound for slaughter overseas but the new guidelines, welcomed by the European Commission, were set by a variety of both farming and animal welfare organisations.

The new guidelines are currently available in English with Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Romanian and Spanish versions available in the next few months and can be downloaded from the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) website following registration. They were produced following extensive research and consultation by the stakeholder group coordinated by World Horse Welfare and Federation of European Equine Veterinary Associations (FEEVA).

The guidelines are designed to set out clear and simple methods of assessing the fitness of equidae for transport to support a number of objectives including; helping maintain good health among animals and humans, reducing the risk of disease transmission and preventing animal suffering. The guidelines also support transporters in avoiding penalties, financial losses, and withdrawal of the transporter’s authorisation or driver’s certificate of competence.

In addition, the guidelines offer a health and transport checklist and a quick reference guide to assess vital signs and health concerns. Whilst the guidelines will help protect animal welfare, they also aim to help protect the health and safety of anyone involved in the transport process, supporting transport professionals in the enforcement and understanding of EU Regulation 1/2005 which states that ‘No animal shall be transported unless it is fit for the intended journey’. The guidelines also received recognition from Dr Bernard Vallat Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for 15 years before recently leaving the position. He said:

“It is my pleasure to commend this visual guide to health conditions that may impact on the fitness of animals to travel. This clear and simple guide will help all those involved in animal transport to quickly and easily assess the situation and understand what course of action to take.”

The stakeholder group includes: Animals Angels, Animal Transport Association (ATA), Austrian Federal Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons, Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN), Belgian Confederation for the Horse (BCP-CBC), European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives (COPA and COGECA), Eurogroup for Animals, Italian Equestrian Sports Federation (FISE), Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), French Equestrian Federation (FFE) and European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV).

The guidelines were also warmly welcomed by Andrea Gavinelli, Head of Unit for Official Controls and Eradication of Diseases in Animals who stated:

“These guidelines will be an essential resource for anyone involved in the transportation of horses, donkeys, mules or their hybrids and I am pleased that the Commission has been able to support their production and dissemination.”

Photo: The stakeholder group handing over the fitness guidelines.