The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Thursday it had launched a new standardized global certification program to improve the safety and welfare of animals traveling by air.
"Last year millions of animals traveled safely and securely by air. Animal owners and shippers rely heavily on airlines to carry their precious cargo," said Nick Careen, IATA's senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo, and security, in a statement released here.
IATA said the program -- Center of Excellence for Independent Validators for Live Animals Logistics (CEIV Live Animals) -- provides everyone involved in the air cargo supply chain with the assurance that certified companies are operating to the highest standards in the transport of live animals.
"As an industry, we have a duty of care to ensure that standards and best practices are in place around the world to protect the welfare of these animals," said Careen.
He noted that for those shipping live animals through the program will be provided with a reliable quality benchmark.
He said the new certification is like CEIV Pharma which helped provide quality standards for temperature sensitive health care shipments.
It extends that expertise to the field of transporting and handling animals, which is challenging, IATA said.
Each type of animal has specific requirements, and this is not limited to the physical.
It is critical to take into consideration the emotional response of the animals when placed in a special-purpose, if unfamiliar, environment by trained professionals.
The City of London's Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) and Air Canada Cargo played a key role in helping to pilot the CEIV Live Animal program, said IATA.
According to Robert Quest of HARC, "Last year some 16,000 dogs and cats, 400 horses, 200,000 reptiles, 2,000 birds and 28 million fish traveled through HARC."