The release or evacuation of an animal in an uncontrolled manner could worsen the existing incident, or cause a secondary incident, resulting in harm to people or the animal. The animal may behave unpredictably on its release; if it has a herding instinct it may try to return to other familiar animals.
An appropriate destination for the animal should be identified prior to operational activity to carry out its release or evacuation. However, private land should not be used without the permission of the landowner.
Managing to identify the owner of the animal is likely to assist with the incident, as they can be involved in decisions that need to be made about the animal. Sources of owner identification could include microchips, collar tags, branding, tattoos or ear tags.
Before an incident can be closed, the released or evacuated animal needs to be handed over to its owner, if they are present. If the owner is not present, or if there is no owner, the animal should be placed into the care of a suitable person or organisation.
If the animal is in transit, an alternative form of transport may need to be sourced, so that the animal can be transferred and transported.
Onward transportation of an animal
The Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 deals with the protection of animals during transport and related operations. In particular Annex 1, Chapter I provides the criteria for whether an animal is fit for the intended journey. For example, the animal should be able to move independently without pain or walk unassisted and should not have severe open wounds. There are also age limitations for the transport of animals.
However, sick or injured animals may be considered fit for transport if they are slightly injured or ill and transport would not cause additional suffering. This decision should preferably be taken by a veterinary surgeon.
A sick or injured animal may be transported under veterinary supervision for, or following, veterinary treatment or diagnosis. However, the transportation of the animal is only allowed if the animal is not subjected to unnecessary suffering or ill treatment.
Annex 1, Chapter II of the regulations provides details about the means of transport. For example, it should be designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to avoid injury and suffering and to ensure the safety of the animal. It should also protect the animal from inclement weather, extreme temperatures and adverse changes in climatic conditions.