11 Sept 2012 -
AHVLA were informed by the exporter’s agent, ************ of the vehicles that were due to arrive at the port for the sailing of the m/v Joline on the 12 September. AHVLA carried out a risk assessment and identified two vehicles that were assessed as high risk (based upon previous compliance history) and required inspection and a third lower risk vehicle that would be inspected if time permitted. This is in line with the risk assessment matrix for the vehicles that were presented on the day.
- The AHVLA inspection team consisting of ********** (Technical Team Leader), and ************************* (Animal Health Officers) arrived at Ramsgate port.
- Two vehicles transporting live animals arrived at the port;
********** transporting three tiers of unshorn sheep;
********** (lorry and trailer) transporting 3 tiers of unshorn sheep;
AHVLA, in the company of the RSPCA, walked around these vehicles to ensure that there were no visible indications of non-compliances.
- Four vehicles transporting live animals arrived at the port;
********** transporting 3 tiers of unshorn sheep - inspected by AHVLA;
********** (lorry and trailer) transporting 3 tiers of sheep;
********** transporting 3 tiers of sheep;
********** transporting 3 tiers of shorn sheep - inspected by AHVLA.
- AHVLA carried out an inspection of vehicle *********** in the company of two RSPCA inspectors. The vehicle was of French origin with French drivers. The vehicle is designed with fully adjustable decks. It is designed so that each deck must be loaded and then lifted into position before being locked in place. It was loaded with 548 sheep over three decks (tiers). All documents relating to the animals were in order. These included a vehicle approval certificate issued by (or on behalf of) the Competent Authority in France. This document confirms that the vehicle has been inspected and assessed as being compliant with Council Regulation EC 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.
During the physical inspection of the vehicle, AHVLA inspectors identified a sheep, on the middle tier, with a limb trapped between the deck floor and shell of the vehicle. The driver was informed and managed to free the limb with some ease. There were no visual signs of injury and the sheep was able to bear weight on the limb without any signs of discomfort. Subsequently, a second animal, on the top tier was discovered with a similarly trapped limb. Due to the un-natural position that this limb was trapped in, the AHVLA inspector considered that the injury was so severe as to warrant the animal as being unfit to be transported. The driver was again alerted. This time it was necessary to use a crowbar to lever the deck away from the
Appendix 1 2
shell of the trailer, to provide sufficient space to be able to release the trapped limb. AHVLA inspectors were also concerned that the vehicle had been poorly loaded with some pens exhibiting signs of being over-stocked. The RSPCA inspectors identified a third animal which was not bearing weight on a limb and in their opinion was not fit to transport.
Simultaneously to this AHVLA inspectors observed that a number of other sheep on the middle tier, which had already been inspected, had subsequently managed to place limbs between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle. In their opinion this represented a risk to the animals and brought into question the suitability of the vehicle.
The AHVLA inspectors concluded that the vehicle could not be allowed to proceed until the sheep with the severe leg injury had been euthanised. Moreover, due to the escalation in the numbers of animals with limbs between the deck floor and the shell of the trailer, the fact that similar occurrences were identified on the previous two occasions that this vehicle had been inspected at the port (i.e. single animals had been identified with trapped limbs) and concerns regarding the stocking densities in some of the pens, the inspectors considered that the vehicle could not proceed with its planned journey and that following the removal of the severely injured animal , it must divert to a local premises to rectify the problems that had been identified.
In relation to the limbs which were slipping between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle, AHVLA inspectors considered that it was the configuration of the decks (i.e. the position in which the deck floors were situated) that was the cause of this problem.
– The seventh and final vehicle arrived at the port;
********** transporting 3 tiers of sheep.
- Vehicle *********** was prohibited from loading onto the m/v Joline. A statutory Notice under Article 24 of the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 was drafted by an AHVLA inspector, requiring the animal with the severe leg injury, to be euthanised. The notice was not served until 10:10 (see below.)
- Due to the AHVLA inspectors’ belief that the vehicle was not suitable to transport animals in its current configuration and the fact that the driver had indicated that the configuration could not be altered whilst the unit was loaded, AHVLA took the decision to initiate their contingency plans, in case needed, and contacted premises detailed in their contingency plan. At this point, it was the AHVLA inspectors’ intention that the animal that they considered unfit must be euthanised and then the vehicle would be diverted to a local facility to be unloaded.
- The second vehicle that had been identified for inspection, *********, was checked by AHVLA inspectors, found to be fully compliant and was allowed to proceed onto the vessel.
- AHVLA confirmed that contingency premises were available, if required. The premises identified is 24 miles / approximately 45 minutes travel time from Ramsgate.
- The last vehicle was loaded on the vessel. Appendix 1 3
- AHVLA received a call from ***********, RSPCA *************, who informed the inspectors that he was not happy with AHVLA’s proposals to manage the problems identified, specifically AHVLA’s intention to transport the sheep to an emergency facility in a vehicle that was not considered suitable and that was over-stocked. He further instructed that any unfit animals must be unloaded at the port. The AHVLA inspector made it clear to him that this was not appropriate as there were no facilities at the port to unload animals.
- The m/v Joline sailed.
- ************* informed AHVLA inspectors that due to the location of the severely injured sheep, the limited access and the concentration of other animals across the deck, it was not possible to remove the injured sheep from the vehicle without causing it further suffering, in order for it to be euthanised. He offered to carry out the procedure in situ. RSPCA inspectors objected to the suggestion that it was appropriate to carry out this procedure in front of other animals.
AHVLA staff decided that they should try to find another vehicle to transfer some of the sheep into and which would enable the injured animal to be removed from the vehicle.
Whilst the responsibility for contingency arrangements lies with the transporter, it was becoming apparent to AHVLA inspectors that the driver and attendant had made no progress towards implementing their own contingency plans. It was the view of AHVLA inspectors that this was predominantly because neither driver understood nor spoke any English. AHVLA therefore decided to implement its own contingency arrangements.
- The Article 24 Notice was served, by AHVLA, on the driver requiring that the sheep with the severely injured leg should be removed from the vehicle and humanely destroyed. (See 08:45). This delay stemmed from the need to complete inspections of the second vehicle and ensure that the m/v Joline sailed without delaying the journeys of the six other vehicles.
- AHVLA contacted Kent Trading Standards (KTS) to advise them that AHVLA inspectors considered that the transporter had breached the transport legislation by failing to transport the sheep without causing unnecessary suffering. AHVLA informed KTS that it was their intention to transfer the sheep to a second vehicle and transport them to their contingency facility, after the severely injured animal had been euthanised.
- AHVLA received a further call from ********** RSPCA , this time in the presence of ************** (RSCPA Legal Adviser). He informed the AHVLA inspector that they (the RSPCA) were not satisfied with AHVLA’s contingency plans and were not prepared to allow the use of a vehicle that was unsuitable and overstocked, to transport animals to the emergency facility.
Notwithstanding the concerns over the suitability of the vehicle, AHVLA were concerned by the need to take action to alleviate the distress of the severely injured sheep and approached UKBA to see whether or not the inspection shed could be used to facilitate off-loading the vehicle to enable access to the injured animal and to Appendix 1 4
enable it to be euthanised. UKBA were supportive, but could not offer immediate assistance as the shed was being used by them and would not be available before 1pm. AHVLA wanted to expedite a more timely resolution and therefore approached the port manager.
A private veterinary surgeon (PVS), requested and arranged by the RSPCA, arrived.
- AHVLA spoke with the duty port manager to see if there was anywhere within the port that might be suitable to unload the vehicle. At this point the intention remained to unload the vehicle solely to allow access to the injured sheep.
The duty port manager identified an area usually used to wash lorries. AHVLA inspected the site and were satisfied that it was stock proof. The floor was solid. The site was free off any objects that might cause harm or injury to the animals. There was sufficient room to enable the animals to be provided with water whilst unloaded.
AHVLA instructed the driver to move the vehicle to this site and unload the vehicle. During the unloading, the RSPCA spotted an animal which was unable to bear weight on one limb. The PVS inspected the animal and assessed that it wasn’t fit to transport and that it too must be euthanised.
As the vehicle continued to be unloaded it became evident that there were a number of other animals exhibiting signs of lameness. AHVLA and RSPCA marked these animals (forty one in total, excluding the two previously identified as not being fit to transport) with a livestock marker, with the intention of carrying out a closer inspection of them once the unloading was complete and the animals were more settled.
AHVLA contacted KTS to advise them of the number of unfit animals that had been identified and requested that they attend the port.
- The injured sheep, and the second animal assessed as unfit to transport by the PVS were euthanised by **********************.
- AHVLA were still of the opinion that the configuration of the decks was responsible for the problems identified and that it may be possible to load the animals in a configuration that did not represent a risk to the animals. They permitted the vehicle to be reloaded with the intention of altering the configuration to ensure that this remedied the previously identified problems. The swan-neck section at the front of the vehicle and the top deck of the vehicle were loaded without issue. However, when the middle deck was loaded it was clear that sheep were again trapping their limbs between the deck and the shell of the vehicle. This deck was unloaded. AHVLA decided to allow the vehicle to transport animals in the top and lower decks of the vehicle to their contingency facility. Having unloaded, the vehicle would return to collect the remaining animals and transfer them to the contingency facility as well.
- KTS Officers arrived at the port with a French interpreter. AHVLA staff advised them that it was their intention to transport the healthy sheep to the Appendix 1 5
contingency premises in two loads as the middle deck of the vehicle was unsuitable. KTS decided that they would interview the first driver whilst the second driver transferred the animals to the contingency premises, and then interview the second driver whilst the first driver transferred the remaining animals to the contingency premises.
- During the process of attempting to reload the vehicle AHVLA inspectors spotted that a number of sheep had fallen through a drain hole into a well in the unloading area and were drowning.
One of the AHVLA inspectors and the PVS successfully extricated four of the sheep from the drain hole. However, there were two animals which had drowned before they could be extricated from the well and these were recovered by the RSPCA using dog-catching poles.
The drain had been covered by a man-hole cover, which was hidden by shingle covering the area. The man-hole cover had not been secured to the drain and it appears that the sheep managed to dislodge it. It was subsequently covered and made safe.
- A BBC film crew gained access to the port to film proceedings.
**************, who had been told of the numbers of animals unfit to transport, informed AHVLA that he could arrange for a vehicle to collect them, and take them to a local abattoir. He contacted a local transporter to arrange for casualty transport. Simultaneously to this the first AHVLA veterinary officer arrived at the port.
- The second AHVLA veterinary officer arrived at the port.
- AHVLA’s veterinary officers, in discussion with the RSPCA’s vet, agreed that the vehicle was not suitable to move the sheep to the contingency premises. AHVLA continued to seek alternative transport but were unable to locate a suitable vehicle.
The journey organiser, ***********, was informed of this decision, by AHVLA. He was not happy to accept this decision and informed AHVLA that he would accept no further responsibility for the animals. He was reminded that he still had responsibilities and that he should be making suitable arrangements to deal with the emerging situation.
Later, ****************** approached AHVLA and suggested that the sheep could be transferred to a local abattoir using the original vehicle. This option was considered by AHVLA. However, inspection of the vehicle by AHVLA inspectors had demonstrated a fist sized gap between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle. In the opinion of the AHVLA veterinary inspectors any change of direction or sharp movement (e.g. rapid deceleration) whilst a limb was trapped between the deck floor and the shell of the vehicle would put a strain on those limbs with an associated risk of severe injury to the animals. This option was, therefore, not considered appropriate.
Appendix 1 6
- The drivers of the vehicle would not co-operate with KTS and consequently were arrested by Kent Police on behalf of Kent Trading Standards and taken to Margate Police station.
The sheep which had previously been identified as exhibiting signs of lameness were examined jointly by an AHVLA vet and the PVS. They agreed that one animal was fit to travel, that three animals were fit enough to be transported to an abattoir and that the remaining 37 sheep were not fit to transport and would need to be euthanised on site. Some of these animals showed evidence of recent injury, likely to have occurred in transit, others were of a more long standing nature, caused by foot rot lesions, the lameness being exaggerated as they were penned on hard standing.
As a consequence of this decision, ***************** contingency arrangement for the unfit animals to be taken away by a casualty vehicle was no longer appropriate.
The driver of the casualty vehicle departed the port. (It is not known what time he arrived as he did not make his arrival known to AHVLA.)
The journey organiser contacted AHVLA to inform us that a replacement vehicle had been identified but that it would not be at the port for approximately nine hours. Having exhausted the contingency contacts available to AHVLA, under the circumstances AHVLA accepted this delay. However, inspectors continued to expedite a quicker solution, without success. AHVLA were informed by *********************** that identifying a replacement vehicle had been hampered by the fact that media coverage had resulted in a number of hauliers declining to offer assistance.
- Euthanasia of the unfit animals commenced. This was completed in a specially created pen (shielded from public view) by RSPCA officers under the direction of their vet and assisted by AHVLA officers. The RSPCA used a bolt gun to stun the animals and a pithing rod was used to ensure death. The RSPCA took photographs of the operation.
A second contingent of AHVLA staff arrived to replace the initial inspection team. They brought with them a quantity of hay to provide to the sheep.
- Euthanasia of unfit animals completed.
AHVLA arranged for a local pet crematorium to collect and dispose of the carcases.
- ***************, from the pet crematorium, arrived at the port to collect the carcases.
Loading of the carcases onto **************** vehicle was completed and he left the port.
AHVLA staff stayed on site to monitor the animals’ welfare and until the replacement vehicle arrived.
- on 13th September, the replacement vehicle arrived. The animals were loaded on to the vehicle, supervised by AHVLA staff. Appendix 1 7
- The vehicle left the port, and travelled to a farm in Kettering, Northamptonshire. An RSPCA vehicle left to follow it to its final destination