In 2011, a total of 387 animal transports involving over 908 000 animals were inspected. Violations of animal transport legislation were detected in 16 per cent of these. The number of non-compliances remained almost unchanged from the previous year and the result was the second best in the twenty-first century. As in previous years, almost half of the non-compliances detected in animal transports were related to deficiencies in documentation required by legislation.
Most of the inspections were carried out by official veterinarians in slaughterhouses when transport vehicles were unloaded. In addition, provincial veterinarians inspected transports on the road and at the place of departure. The majority of inspections were targeted at transports of pigs and cattle as well as poultry transports. Inspections also covered transports of horses and reindeer. Ten inspections were made on transports with a journey time of more than eight hours. The average transport time was three hours.
Inspections of commercial animal transports have been carried out systematically in Finland for 15 years, since 1997. Animal welfare authorities have inspected more than 4100 animal transports between 2000 and 2011. In the past two years, the number of non-compliances has decreased by one third from the average number of the preceding ten years, when violations were detected in an average of 24% of the inspected transports.
Non-compliances often due to deficient documentation
The majority of individual non-compliances detected in 2011 were associated with requirements concerning the drivers' certificates of competence, transport documentation and animal transporter authorisations. The second most common deficiencies were found in the condition and safety of vehicles, and the third most common violations lay in failure to conform to space requirements.
Overall, with the exception of variations between individual years, in the last 15 years there has been no change in the number of non-compliances associated with transport documents, space allowances for animals, journey times, and loading and unloading of animals. A clear improvement, on the other hand, can be seen in the fitness of the transported animals and in the separation of animals. Control results also indicate a slight improvement in the condition of the vehicles used for animal transports.
Animal transports are inspected on an annual basis
The legislation on animal transports was revised at the beginning of 2007. The Council regulation on the protection of animals during transport and related operations requires each Member State to inspect an adequate number of animal transports every year, in order to control compliance with the animal welfare requirements set forth for animal transports. The Finnish Food Authority prepares a summary of the Finnish inspection results every year and reports them to the European Commission.