And so we come to the end of 2014! I cannot believe next week is Christmas, followed a week later by the arrival of 2015! How times flies and things change - especially when you have kids. I was reminded of that today as I took my 16 year old daughter Ellie in to become a fully licensed driver. Scary yet exciting - both for the same reasons - the independence and freedom they did not have for the first 16 years.
I was amazed at how much more complex it is to become a licensed driver than it was back when I was 15 years old and getting my own license (I won't be sharing the year with you! :)). I had Driver's Education as part of my school curriculum, took a very simple written test, and then drove around the block - literally 4 right turns, angle-parked, and I was a licensed driver with no restrictions!
For Ellie, it was a completely different experience. She first had to take a written test that 75% of people fail on the first try (she did pass first try!) just to get her learner's permit - the precursor to her full license. She was then required to hold her learners permit for a year before she could take the driving test for her full driver's license. We put her in a driving school where she had 20 hours classroom, 10 hours car time, and it was not cheap! She then had to go take the driving part of the test after her one year period of holding her learner's expired. Her test lasted 30 minutes and required a long list of skills to be proven proficient - including parallel parking, which would of most likely have been my downfall (even today!). She passed her driver's test, but it only upgrades her to a restricted license for the next two years. At the end of that two year probationary period, she will then have to take an advanced drivers' test. This applies to all first time drivers - no matter your age. All in all, it's a three year minimum to become a fully qualified driver!
So you ask - where is this going and what does it have to do with animal transportation? It is quite parallel to what we have seen in requirements for transporting animals over the past decade. We have evolved from limited restrictions and regulations to an industry that has become quite regulated, especially in particular parts of the world. Many countries are requiring specialized training for any individuals who want to transport animals, of which it was not that long ago that animal transportation training programs did not even exist - even if you wanted to take one! Drivers in some countries are restricted on how far they can transport animals based on their certification level - and this is inclusive of farmers, not just professional transporters. Animal welfare during transport is now audited for livestock transport, and is a requirement of some trade agreements.
Though many of these changes have been very positive for the transporters and the animals, it can be very overwhelming at times to keep track of this ever changing and evolving aspect of transport logistics. One of ATA's mandates is to keep our members in the loop on the latest in regulatory changes, provide expert consultation to regulatory and advisory bodies, and deliver educational opportunities to our members through webinars and our annual conference. We are able to achieve this on an international level due to the diversity and reach of our membership - something that is very unique to ATA. We are committed to continue to provide the information and education that our members need to stay ahead of the ever changing landscape and continually advance your skills and professionalism.
With that - I wish all of you a very happy holidays wherever you may be and look forward to seeing you in Calgary in the New Year!