Forced to travel at temperatures of up to 50°C degrees and without water

© Essere Animali

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Forced to travel at temperatures of up to 50°C degrees and without water



Francesco Ceccarelli
Head of investigations

We returned to the streets during the days of extreme heat and documented animals being transported to the slaughterhouses of Northern Italy in terrible conditions.

Watch the investigation

We already had the hunch that this year too, we would once again see many transport operations of live animals on the hottest days of the summer at the beginning of July, when the Ministry of Health had not yet published the annual memorandum in which it issues prescriptions on the transport of animals in high temperatures to the regional veterinary services, the transporters’ trade associations and the Traffic Police. In fact, in previous years the ministerial memorandum had been issued several weeks earlier. The delay in seeing it made us think that there was no desire on the part of the institutions to curb these types of transport.

In the first days of the red alert, when all the media warned that temperatures would exceed 35°C, we therefore returned to the A1, on the motorway that connects Milan to Bologna, a point of connection between thousands of farms in the Po Valley and the large slaughterhouses of the North. The goal was to intercept the trucks transporting pigs (the most frequently transported animals on that stretch of motorway) and follow them to the slaughterhouse so that we could check the conditions of the animals and measure the internal temperature of the trucks.

What we documented

What we filmed is truly terrible and must be stopped as soon as possible.

Pigs travelling at temperatures of 50°C
Using a temperature gun, we measured the temperature inside the trucks. In one case we recorded 51°C, and in five others above 40°C.

Although Regulation N.1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport is deficient and incomplete, it stipulates that: “no person is authorised to transport animals or cause animals to be transported in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to them“. For this reason, consenting to the departure of trucks in such weather conditions is an intolerable negligence on the part of company veterinarians and the competent authorities.

Animals in severe distress
Most of the pigs were gasping with their mouths wide open and had a high respiratory rate.

All the trucks monitored were devoid of drinkers, meaning that the animals were left without water. Drinkers are not required by law on domestic trips, but not allowing animals to drink in such high temperatures can only cause further suffering.

Heat stress
Pigs were lying down to better dissipate heat through contact with the floor and appeared to have difficulty supporting themselves on their feet.

The worst transport we documented is that of a truck leaving from a farm in Piedmont and heading to Faenza that took at least 7 hours to get to the slaughterhouse. This journey was not short at all, and in extremely hot conditions and without water available represents cruelty to animals. In this case, we are reporting the matter to the authorities.

The legislation on the transport of animals is inadequate

At Essere Animali, in the past we have already denounced the lack of objective reference parameters in the Regulation on the protection of animals during transport. This creates a large unregulated grey area which in fact does not allow appropriate action to be taken when animal welfare is not respected. The only provisions stipulate that the means of transport are able to protect the animals from extreme temperatures and prohibit their transport in conditions that expose them to injury or unnecessary suffering. But it is shameful that in the case of domestic transport with a duration equal to or less than 8 hours, for example, the current regulations do not indicate a maximum threshold for the internal or external temperature limits of the vehicle, nor do they oblige access to water for the animals.

We are asking for better laws

Although we documented a similar situation last year, in the meantime nothing has changed despite much talk in recent months about transport at both national and EU level. The European Commission has set itself the objective of carrying out a complete review of the animal welfare legislation, including that on the transport and slaughter of animals reared for food, by the autumn of 2023.

To prohibit the worst practices without leaving any animals behind and for the Italian government to support an ambitious and respectful line of revision of higher standards of animal welfare.
Chiara Caprio – Institutional Relations Manager at Essere Animali

By means of the No Animal Left Behind campaign, coordinated by Eurogroup for Animals and supported by dozens of NGOs from all over Europe, Essere Animali is calling for the prohibition of the transport of live animals over long distances (more than 8 hours), the introduction of clear references also for temperatures (also taking humidity into account) and about the modes of transport also for domestic trips, and also for various fundamental parameters to be clearly defined, such as specific conditions regarding the species and category of animals, which take into account their suitability for transport as well as the availability of space and the method of administration of water.

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read the petition

Dear Commissioners,

Every year millions of farmed animals are transported alive by road, sea, rail, and air within the European Union (EU) Member States (MS) and to extra-EU countries for breeding, fattening and slaughter purposes. The protection of animals during transport and related operations is disciplined by Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 (hereafter named Regulation 1/2005).

In the last decades, however, a vast body of scientific literature, official reports by the European Commission and investigations from civil society organisations have extensively shown that Regulation 1/2005 is not only being poorly enforced by MS, but it fails to adequately protect animals since it is based on outdated scientific knowledge.

In the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission has set the goal “to revise the animal welfare legislation, including on animal transport and the slaughter of animals, to align it with the latest scientific evidence, broaden its scope, make it easier to enforce and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare”.

The revision of Regulation 1/2005 represents a unique opportunity for the European Commission and the EU co-legislators to strengthen and improve the protection of animals during transport, along with effectively addressing the most urgent welfare issues to spare animals any avoidable suffering.

In light of these considerations, I/we call for a revision of Regulation 1/2005 that must include:

  • A ban on the transport of live farmed animals to extra-EU countries
  • A ban on long-distance transport of live animals within the EU and a limit on maximum journey times of 8 hours for adult bovines, ovines and swine, and 4 hours for poultry and rabbits
  • A ban on the transport of unweaned and pregnant animals (for whom 40% or more of the expected gestation period has already passed)
  • The definition of species- and category-specific conditions to ensure fitness for transport, and to establish minimum and maximum external temperatures, space allowance parameters, and the provision of watering and feeding during the transport of live animals within the EU.
  • The reduction, refinement and replacement of the transport of live farmed animals by that of meat/carcasses and semen/embryos, as recommended by the FVE, OIE and EFSA.

We further ask for stricter enforcement of the Transport Regulation, alongside a higher number of official inspections and controls, and more severe sanctions in case of verified infringements.

My/our requests join those of tens of thousands of European citizens that have recently participated in the public consultation on the revision of EU animal welfare legislation and have unanimously expressed the urgency to adopt improved and stringent dispositions to enhance and advance the protection of animals during transport and related operations.

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