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  4. RSPCA Policy F1 Transportation of animals – general principles

RSPCA Policy F1 Transportation of animals – general principles

1.1The RSPCA believes that people responsible for the transport of animals – be that by land, sea or air - must ensure their welfare and safety. People responsible for the transport of animals must understand and be competent in the tasks they are expected to perform to help mitigate the stress caused to animals by the transportation process.
1.2People responsible for the transport of animals must consider the nature of previous handling and transportation experienced by the animal(s) and adjust transport arrangements accordingly. Animals must be assembled, contained, loaded, transported, and unloaded in a way that avoids causing injury, pain, suffering, or distress.
1.3The RSPCA is opposed to the use of electric prodders to move animals.
1.4Animals selected for transport must be in good health and fit for the intended journey, unless the transport is for emergency purposes (e.g. to seek urgent veterinary treatment, or to relocate animals in case of bushfire or flooding). Where there is any doubt as to the animal’s fitness, i.e. ability to comfortably withstand the intended journey, and for vulnerable animals, they must only be transported under veterinary advice and under transport conditions that will avoid further compromising their welfare (e.g. through the provision of bedding and space to lie down). Vulnerable animals include, but are not limited to, animals in their third trimester of pregnancy, animals with young at foot, lactating animals, unweaned animals, drought-affected animals, and end-of-life animals. Prompt action must be taken to alleviate injury, pain, suffering, or distress in animals found to be not fit for transport.
1.5Where groups of animals are transported, they must be separated into appropriate compatible groups prior to loading to decrease the risk of injury and distress. Grouping must consider the species, age, sex, size, health, familiarity, and behaviour of the animals.
1.6Vehicles, aircraft, vessels, and containers must be designed, constructed, maintained, and operated as appropriate to meet the physical and mental needs of the species and/or individual animal to be transported. This includes, but is not limited to, adequate ventilation, the provision of sufficient space for animals to maintain balance when standing, to stand with their head in a normal upright position, and to lie down when needed, where relevant, on appropriate bedding.
1.7All animal transport journeys must be planned to be as short as possible in terms of assembly time, loading time, the time spent on transport, the time travelled, unloading time, and with due consideration of the species and individual animal’s comfort.
1.8Animals must be provided with appropriate food, water, and rest before, during, and after the journey, according to their physical and mental needs. Where records accompany animals throughout the transport journey (e.g. commercial animal transport), these must clearly state the last time the animal(s) had access to food and water.
1.9Animals must be protected from adverse weather conditions during transportation and appropriate contingency plans must be in place and adhered to.
1.10Animals must be monitored during transit as appropriate for the species, age, health, and behaviour of the animal(s) and, where necessary, must be provided with appropriate treatment or veterinary care as soon as possible. For commercial animal transport, contact details of the person responsible for the animal(s), the date/time animals were inspected, any welfare problems identified, and action taken during the journey must be recorded.
1.11People responsible for the transport of animals must be aware of and comply with state/territory-based animal welfare legislation including provisions that relate specifically to the transportation of animals.

(adopted 21/05/2023)

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Updated on July 6, 2023

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

Reference to ‘the RSPCA’ or ‘RSPCA’ in this document means RSPCA Australia and each of the RSPCA Australia member Societies.

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