Emergencies may occur during any phase of the shipping process. During the peritrip period, emergencies encountered have included extended delays before the start of long trips, exposure to extreme temperatures, animal escapes, and mechanical problems with transportation vehicles.

To ensure animal comfort and safety, all plans for animal shipments must include instructions for emergency responses in accordance with the mode of transportation used. For example, Appendix B of the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations contains a section covering emergency responses. The section provides a summary of actions appropriate to emergency situations, including delays, container damage, escapes, illness, and segregation. It is important that when an emergency occurs, those directly involved with the transport of the animals (the shipper and the organization and individual(s) providing transport) need to be able to contact each other and the means of contact be established prior to transport. Planning must also include procedures to follow in the event of an emergency. Both a primary plan and a backup plan should be available for each phase of the trip. For example, if animals are to be transported by plane or truck and a mechanical problem causes a long delay, animal needs must be accommodated to avoid tragedy. Animals should not remain unprotected from extreme weather for more than a few minutes, and comfortable accommodations should be available.

In rare circumstances, a situation may arise in which it must be determined whether euthanasia of an animal is necessary. For example, an animal might become moribund during transportation, or might endanger the safety of the human handlers, as can happen if a horse becomes uncontrollable during a flight and kicks at the aircraft’s doors. A part of the emergency procedure plan should document specifics that identify which persons are trained and qualified to make and carry out decisions (usually a veterinarian) and the methods and equipment to administer anesthesia or perform euthanasia safely in the transportation situation.


Personnel who handle animals must be properly trained in routine and emergency procedures for the species they handle. Training should include procedures applicable to the mode of transportation and should cover at least

  • Shipper and carrier responsibilities;

  • Inspection of primary enclosures;

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