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Open Letter to Siddika Mathani, President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regarding live animal transport safety regulations

June 25th, 2020

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Attention, Siddika Mathani, President
1400 Merivale Road Tower 1, Floor 6, Room 100
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9

To Siddika Mithani, President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA):

The recent arrival of a Ukraine International Airlines plane containing 500 crated puppies, 38 of which were confirmed dead on arrival and many others of which were dehydrated and weak, is an unacceptable tragedy – and an entirely preventable one. Had the CFIA followed its own extensive guidelines on humane transportation for animals, and Ukraine International Airlines involved followed Canadian Health of Animals Regulations and International Air Transport Association (IATA) voluntary codes, the suffering and death of these animals – and the ensuing international outrage – could have been avoided.

SPCA International was also disappointed to learn that the CFIA has handed the surviving puppies, still likely ill and traumatized, over to the importers without completing a full investigation into the cruel transport of these animals. The agency should have also overseen a full veterinary inspection of the animals’ health. We write to you now to demand that the CFIA uphold its own standards for animal transport and care, and that the agency release a complete account of its investigation into this incident.

Dogs should never be transported in such huge numbers, with multiple animals to a crate, at such high temperatures, and without proper oversight and care on long journeys. Due to their smaller nostrils and a narrow windpipe, it is never advisable to transport snub-nosed breeds – like the French bulldog puppies in this case — in the cargo hold of any airplane. The massive numbers of pure-breed puppies transported in this case amounts to an international puppy mill, and unfortunately, this incident is only a microcosm of the corruption, profiteering and cruelty spurred by puppy mills worldwide.

The CFIA’s Health of Animals Regulations section 148 requires that “no animal is transported in a way that it is overcrowded” especially in a way that animals are “likely to suffer, sustain an injury or die.” The Ukraine International Airlines flight clearly violated these rules. To send a message to all players in the cruel puppy mill trade, the importers and airline responsible for this incident must be held accountable with meaningful fines. The CFIA should also recover the surviving puppies from the importers until it can ensure that these animals will be humanely kept. 

We urge the CFIA to strengthen its enforcement procedures by including appropriate fines for all code violations and working with related bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to make its regulations mandatory, not voluntary. Globally, the lives of dogs and other animals rest on the work of governing bodies to produce and enforce true protective measures. We ask the CFIA to do its part in supporting animal welfare now in the wake of this situation and in the future.


Meredith Ayan
Executive Director
SPCA International