Common abuses in the transport of animals include: poor facilities; overcrowding; insufficient trained attendants; lack of supervision of attendants; lack of coordination in providing opportunities for feeding and watering; no arrangements for the emergencies or delays which inevitably occur; inadequate measures for safe unloading; and lack of checks on the animals' welfare during the trip.
It was estimated in 1994 that some 250 million live animals are transported around Europe each year, usually for slaughter at the end of their journey. Trucks that carry livestock across Europe hold up to 800 sheep with journeys that can last over 24 hours and up to 80 hours. Physical discomfort arises from coats wet with urine and coated with faeces, rain, cold and skin burns through rubbing. The animals are given no water in transit. Unfamiliar flocks are often mixed together. Weaker sheep can lose their footing, fall and be trampled by others, sometimes dying. In many cases facilities do not exist to deal with so many tired, frightened, hungry, thirsty animals, nor for the sick, injured and dead. Although sheep could usually be slaughtered close to their farms and then transported as meat, offal and hides can fetch a higher price in other countries, as does freshly killed meat.
Parrots and lizards are captured in the wild, shipped as cargo on planes in bundles of cloth or pushed into cardboard tubes. Many die in transit, but the extravagant profits that can be made for the survivors as pets makes the process very lucrative.
Live turtles for the food and pet market reportedly arrive in the USA from Africa and Asia stacked like dinner plates in crates or in cardboard cartons. In one shipment from Tanzania, 511 pancake tortoises and 307 leopard tortoises had been packed on top of one another. Fifty animals were dead, 400 appeared near death, and almost all were grievously dehydrated. There was much blood, many broken carapaces, and dozens of missing legs. About 50 females carried broken eggs. In 1981, the US Congress asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to promulgate regulations for humane and healthful importation of reptiles, but they were not received until 1997. When the draft regulations were published, opposition from the pet industry forced abandonment of the proposed regulations. The airlines have regulations for both importation and exportation, but these are commonly ignored, because only about 7 percent of the shipments are ever inspected.
Humane laws that apply to warmblooded creatures do not apply to reptiles, because the public somehow equates the ability to experience pain with the ability to thermoregulate.