28 April 2020 – A new report on live animal transports in Romania published by the EU Commission, identifies severe shortcomings with regard to animal welfare. Animals were not examined accordingly, control reports are missing and not enough qualified staff was provided – this points to a severe neglect of the EU transport regulations on Romania’s behalf. Only recently, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS rescued 180 sheep in Romania after their transport vessel capsized and the majority of the sheep died – a tragedy that could have been prevented. Immediate enforcement as well as strict controls and regulations are long overdue for live animal transports within and from the EU. FOUR PAWSurges the EU Commission to start infringement proceedings against Romania and once again demands a ban of live animal transports.
The audit report found that the country’s central competent authority failed to provide instructions to support official veterinarians in checking the implementation of requirements during inspections. Furthermore, there is a general lack of records in the system of controls, including evidence of checks on whether animals that arrive are in a suitable state to continue the journey.
“The report clearly indicates Romania’s neglect of EU transport regulations. Animals must not be transported in a way likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering. It’s obvious that the animals are not sufficiently protected. The EU Commission must now hold Romania responsible by starting an infringement process and work towards an end to live animal transports to prevent future accidents and unnecessary suffering.”
Dr Martina Stephany, Director of the Farm Animals Department at FOUR PAWS.
Thousands of sheep die after transport vessel capsizes
In November 2019, a vessel loaded with 14,000 sheep capsized on its way from Romania to Saudi Arabia, leaving the sheep to die. FOUR PAWS and its Romanian partner organisation ARCA were able to rescue 254 animals, out of which 180 survived. Read more about this mission here.
In early 2020, FOUR PAWS received custody of the sheep and accommodated them north of Bucharest, in a former horse farm that was adjusted to meet their needs. “The sheep received all necessary treatments, and our team on-site makes sure they get all the care they need. They are recovering well from the ordeal they had to live through. These sheep are the lucky ones, and a constant reminder of the millions of farmed animals that keep suffering as long as live transports exist,” says Stephany. FOUR PAWS continues to work on a long-term solution for the sheep with the Romanian authorities.
EU transport regulations must consider animal welfare
The insufficient outcome of the report in Romania comes as no surprise to FOUR PAWS, especially considering the recent ship tragedy. It underscores that EU authorities must prevent the massive animal welfare problems that occur during live animal transports. Every year more than three million live animals are transported from the EU to third countries. FOUR PAWS calls on Romania to adhere to its official announcement stating that the country will work towards a transport of meat instead of animals. All other European member states and the European Institutions should enable this transition as well. FOUR PAWS considers the transport of meat instead of live animals the only alternative to subjecting animals to exhausting journeys and unnecessary suffering. In parallel, EU authorities need to invest in sustainable solutions that reduce the suffering of animals during live transports, such as a limiting the transport duration of live animals to a maximum of eight hours, more unannounced checks and tougher sanctions for infringements.
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org.uk