Warning: This story contains images that may distress some readers.
RSPCA SA says thousands of animals have been killed in truck rollovers in the past six months in what it describes as “horrific” scenes.
The animal welfare organisation said there had been five truck rollovers in the past six months, including two in January that led to nearly 1,800 animals either dying or needing to be euthanased.
RSPCA SA’s chief inspector Andrew Baker said the suffering of animals after a rollover was “horrendous”, and scenes were “horrific” for its inspectors.
“The trauma that these animals have been exposed to as a result of the crashes is really quite horrific,” Mr Baker said.
“For the first responders who attend and have to deal with it, it’s pretty bad on them but it’s much worse for the animals.”
Mr Baker said RSPCA and people who respond to the clean up of truck crashes have noticed a “recent spike” in livestock truck rollovers.
“We are calling on the industry to ensure they have appropriate training, appropriate practices in place so they can maximise the level of care for the animals that they’re transporting,” he said.
RSPCA SA said it was not alleging wrongdoing on the part of the drivers involved in the incidents, but wants them to recognise their duty of care to the animals they transport.
Three drivers will face court regarding rollovers that occurred between September and December last year.
Mr Baker said the livestock industry has been impacted too, citing an example that chickens that survived a recent crash were euthanised at the next destination and cannot be used for their purpose.
“It’s not a good thing for the industry, it’s not a good thing for the animals and we’re really calling on the truck drivers to make sure they’re taking appropriate care,” he said.
More driver training in the works
Livestock and Rural Transporters Association SA president David Smith said livestock carriers have a duty of care for the animals they transport under the industry’s code of practice.
He said current accreditation programs in SA include training for livestock carriers but the association is in early stages of providing more training for drivers.
“The focus is to try and develop something for South Australia in conjunction with the other states so that it’s universal across Australia,” he said.
“There’s training not only on the welfare of animals but training on driving a truck that is 4.6 metres high, meaning the centre of gravity is slightly higher than other trucks, to loading, unloading and handling of livestock — from what we’ve seen it’s pretty comprehensive and we’re keen to introduce it to South Australia.”
Livestock SA president Joe Keynes said while any animal deaths from truck rollovers were concerning, he did not believe there was reason to be “too alarmed”.
“Every time a truck rollover happens we work closely and are informed by the Primary Industry and Regions South Australia of the implications and looking at the accident and how we might prevent further accidents like that occurring,” he said.
“So they might look at things like better signage, or reducing speed limits, or better training ensuring we’ve got drivers that are very experienced, and looking at the loading requirements and are there issues there,” he said.
Mr Keynes suggested the RSPCA and Livestock SA could “join up with” the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association along with the state government to discuss the issue.
“If you all collaborate, you can actually ensure that we have less of these animal incidents than we currently do, so let’s all work together,” he said.
A SA government spokesperson said truck drivers must abide by the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 when transporting livestock, which include meeting loading density requirements.
While vehicles registered interstate are not required to be inspected in South Australia, they must comply with the state’s livestock loading regulations