In 2011, after several reports of animals shipped from the United States dying during arduous journeys overseas, AWI petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to improve its live animal export regulations. The petition requested that APHIS stop allowing exports of animals who are too young, weak, or sick to travel.
Four years later, APHIS proposed to overhaul its export regulations and add fitness to travel requirements—incorporating AWI’s proposal. AWI coordinated comments to APHIS from several animal protection groups on the proposed regulations. As a result, the final rule, which went into effect in February, now has several additional animal welfare safeguards. The new regulations require that ocean vessels 1) maintain a means of humanely euthanizing animals who become sick or injured during transport, 2) do not house hostile animals together, 3) have replacement parts for major life support systems in case of malfunction, and 4) submit a report to APHIS with the number of animals who become injured or sick during transport.
These new regulations will not end these grueling ocean voyages, but they will help reduce the suffering experienced by the tens of thousands of farm animals who are shipped overseas each year.