Are we there yet? In the confines of your comfortable car, how often has someone asked just that? Now imagine traveling for hundreds of miles in a bleak, overcrowded space with no temperature control, little or no food or water and few stops, if any. You have likely seen such transport en route, because every year, billions of farm animals travel this way.
Our country has moved from many farms and slaughterhouses to fewer farms crowded with more animals and an even smaller number of slaughterhouses, which means animals are increasingly transported further and further distances. Most beef cattle, for example, are transported from the range to a stockyard or auction. From there, some are hauled directly to slaughter and some are sent to a feedlot and then transported to slaughter. Others may be trucked to grazing land, then moved to a feedlot and eventually transported to the slaughterhouse. A single trip may be hundreds or even thousands of miles.
Regulations for farm animal transportation are weak to nonexistent; animals often arrive at their destination stressed, thirsty, hungry, injured or dead. Practical and humane transport regulations would establish food and water requirements, rest periods, reasonable temperatures, timely veterinary inspections, euthanasia for sick and injured animals and maximum journey length.
The only US law addressing the subject allows the transport of animals across state lines without food, water or rest for up to 28 hours. Although some industrialized countries have adopted stronger regulations, universally enforceable laws are needed desperately. Seeking to initiate such change is Animals' Angels, a European group devoted solely to raising awareness of the issue and bringing relief to animals in transport.
The organization routinely trails livestock trucks, and upon witnessing infractions of local law, contacts officials with the authority to stop and inspect the vehicles. In a recent investigation, the group documented an eight-day-long pig transport route from Canada to Hawaii. The route is used each week, and the pigs are deprived of food and water during the 28-hour segment of the trip from Alberta to California. For more information about this investigation and the group, please visit www.animals-angels.de.
The Animal Welfare Institute advocates the transport of meat rather than live animals, and encourages consumers to buy locally raised and processed animal products. Each time an animal is transported, there is the potential for pain and fear. Think about that on your next trip.