Cow in a transport truck

Heat Trap for Cows and Pigs

Recognise suffering of transported animals and take action


Vienna, 14 July 2023 – When animals are locked in vehicles during summer, it can be fatal for them. This is not only true for pets, but also for pigs, cattle and poultry on live animal transports. Transport itself is already torturous for animals when crammed onto lorries. In summer, the heat and lack of ventilation or drinking facilities are added to this, which unnecessarily aggravates their suffering. FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, provides life-saving information on what attentive animal lovers can look out for when they spot animal transporters on the roads or rest areas.

How to recognise animals who suffer
Due to empty water tanks, non-functioning and inaccessible or unsuitable drinking devises for the animals, numerous animals die in agony in animal transporters time and again. Signs of thirst and dehydration are apathetic animals or animals, such as cows, licking at the bars of the transporter. Pigs cannot sweat and regulate their body temperature in nature by rolling and wallowing, which is impossible on transports. As a result, they quickly suffer from heat stress, often resulting in death. Poultry cannot sweat either. When stressed in heat, they 'pant' through their open beaks. They normally spread their wings to give off heat – but there is no room for this in the cramped transport boxes.

In which situations you should act
Even if you do not have a clear view of the animals in the transporters due to tarpaulins, you should pay close attention to animal transporters that are stuck in traffic jams, are having a break or have broken down due to technical failure. This also applies to abandoned live animal transporters in fields or on the motorway car park. In these cases, always check if the driver has only gone for a short break or if the vehicle has been abandoned for a longer time. This is necessary because stationary vehicles heat up quickly and the animals can die from respiratory distress or overheating.

Notify competent authorities
If you see that the animals are not well, or even if no one shows up within five minutes, give the number plate and vehicle location to competent authorities. You can also contact them if, for example, you see a moving transporter loaded with animals with injured or even dead animals or observe animals trying unsuccessfully to get watering points. If the vehicle is sighted on the motorway or at a motorway service area, it is best to call the responsible authorities, which in most cases is the motorway police, immediately.

What else you can do
If possible, provide secure evidence. This includes photos and videos that document the grievance – i.e., recordings of the rear number plates of the trucks, the animals in the transporter or the watering troughs. Your own willingness to act as a witness can also be an important addition.

After contacting the authorities, feel free to also forward the case to FOUR PAWS. The global animal welfare organisation collects reported abuses in animal transport to prove that stricter laws and many more controls are necessary.

Pigs inside a transport truck

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Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer

+43 (1) 89 50 20 20

+43 (0) 664 504 38 97

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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