receipt. Shipping should be coordinated to ensure that animals arrive during normal business hours or, if delivery occurs outside of this time, that someone is available to receive them. Defining and delegating responsibility to the appropriate persons, who are knowledgeable about the needs of the species being shipped, will help ensure effective communication and planning of animal transport (AVMA 2002).
All animals in transit within and between institutions or jurisdictions should be accompanied by appropriate documentation to minimize delays in shipping and receipt. Documentation may include health certificates, sending and receiving institutions’ addresses and contacts, emergency procedures and veterinary contact information, and agency permits as needed.
For noncommercial sources of animals, in particular, it is important for the veterinarian or the veterinarian’s designee to review the health status and other housing and husbandry requirements before authorizing shipment of animals. This action will ensure that effective quarantine practices are implemented for incoming animals and address any special requirements needed to ensure animal well-being (Otto and Tolwani 2002). Special considerations may be necessary for transporting animals during certain phases of their life or in certain conditions, such as pregnant, perinatal, and geriatric animals; animals with preexisting medical conditions (e.g., diabetes mellitus); and animals surgically prepared by the supplier (FASS 2010).
Although ensuring animal biosecurity during transportation is always important, it is of particular importance for immunocompromised, genetically modified, and specific pathogen-free rodents (Jacoby and Lindsey 1998). For these animals, reinforced disposable shipping containers with filter-protected ventilation openings and internal food and water sources help ensure that microbial contamination does not occur during transit. Commercial vendors are experienced in animal transport and typically use dedicated transport systems and protocols to minimize microbiologic contamination. Noncommercial or interinstitutional transfer of rodents poses a higher risk of microbial contamination since the individuals involved may lack the required knowledge and animal biosecurity capabilities to maintain the animals’ health status. Risks due to in-transit microbial contamination of shipping container surfaces can be reduced by decontaminating the surfaces before placement of the containers in clean sites of animal facilities (NRC 1996, 2006). Transportation of animals in private vehicles is discouraged because of potential animal biosecurity, safety, health, and liability risks for the animals, personnel, and institution.
For aquatic species and amphibians, special considerations are required for transportation in an aqueous or sufficiently moist environment, and special attention should be given to avoiding temperature extremes for poikilotherms.