EU inspections of animal transports 2012

In 2012, almost 360 commercial animal transports were inspected, with problems found in about 17 per cent. Although the proportion of problems remained almost static from the previous year, the separation of animals improved. Like in previous years, a significant part of the problems identified concerned shortcomings in the statutory documentation.

During 2012, 358 animal transports were inspected, containing in excess of 806,000 animals in total. The bulk of the inspected animals were poultry (more than 780,000). The majority of the inspections were carried out by inspecting veterinary surgeons in abattoirs at the time of offloading the transports. In addition, provincial veterinary officers inspected transports on the road and at the departure point. Most of the inspections concerned cattle and pig transports and poultry transports. A total of 22 transports lasting over eight hours were inspected. The average transport duration was 3.5 hours.

Contraventions of the animal transport regulations were found in a total of 61 animal transports or approx. 17 per cent of the inspected vehicles. Compared to the previous year, the proportion of breaches remained unchanged. The total number of separate problems in 2012 was 110, as in some transports several breaches were found on the same occasion.

More than half the breaches due to incomplete documentation

The most common breaches were largely the same as in previous years. The highest number of individual problems concerned the requirements relating to animal transport licenses, drivers’ certificates of competence and transport documentation (70 cases). The second most common problems were defects in the condition and safety of the vehicle (12 cases) and in compliance with space requirements (12 cases). Further problems were found in the separation of the animals (5 cases) and in compliance with the additional requirements concerning long transports and transport duration (5 cases). On three occasions, problems were found in relation to loading and offloading the cargo and handling the animals, and three transports contained animals that were unfit for transporting.

Agency animal transports and horse and reindeer transports also inspected

Seven agency animal transports were inspected, with problems found in three of them. In all three cases the documentation was incomplete, and in addition, in one of the cases shortcomings were found in compliance with the additional requirements concerning long transports.

The total number of horse transports inspected was 26. Problems were found in 13 transports, and they related to incomplete documentation. In one transport, the animal transport sign was missing, as well as documents.

Reindeer transports were inspected at the departure points or where the animals are originally loaded into the vehicle and at abattoirs. Nine transports in total were inspected. About 56 per cent of these inspections were found to have problems. The most common faults concerned the condition, safety and lighting of the vehicle. In two cases, required documents were missing. Two transports contained animals that were not fit for transportation. In one case, it was not possible to inspect the animals.

Controlling authorities must intervene in breaches

If the controlling authority finds breaches in the transport, it must take the measures dictated by the animal transport legislation. Typically, the controlling authority issues the animal transporter with an order to correct the failures within a set time, or an order to stop the animal transporter from continuing the operation contravening the regulations. The authority must also notify the breaches to the Regional State Administrative Agency that has granted the animal transporter license or certificate of approval for the vehicle, and in certain cases also the Regional State Administrative Agency that granted the certificate of competence to the driver. The authorities took action to ensure the welfare of the animals in 44 transports or about 72 per cent of the inspections where problems were identified.

Animal transports inspected yearly

The legislation on animal transports was revised at the start of 2007. The Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations stipulates that the member state must monitor the compliance with the animal welfare requirements set for animal transports by inspecting a sufficient number of transports each year. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira collates an annual summary of inspection results and reports them to the European Commission.

To ensure a sufficient number of animal transport inspections, the target is to inspect 2-4 per cent of such transports annually. This means 735 – 1,470 transport inspections. However, the target has not been reached, but only about 1% of commercial animal transports have been inspected each year.

Animal welfare inspections of commercial animal transports have been conducted in Finland since 1997. Between 2000—2012, the animal welfare authorities have inspected in excess of 4,600 animal transports in all, of which 22 per cent on average were found to have problems relating to animal welfare.