by Kirstin Payne
LIVESTOCK drivers have hit back at claims their transportation methods could be harmful to their working dogs, asking why anyone would want to hurt their best mate.
The response follows calls from the Australian Working Dog Rescue for a study into the dog's temperatures, stress levels, and air flow while travelling in the 'dog boxes' located under the trailers.
However, Livestock and Rural Transport Association of Victoria president Graham Howell says he believes drivers have always done what's best for their animals.
"They aren't only their mate, but they are a tool and valuable to livestock drivers, they are well feed, rewarded and looked after," Mr Howell said.
The seasoned driver vehemently disagrees with suggestions that the conditions in the boxes put the working dogs in harm's way.
"When the truck is full of livestock they are carried in boxes which are made comfortable for the dogs," he said.
"Everyone I know always makes sure they have water and plenty of feed, they are an asset to your business.
"The boxes are also lined with a wooden floor or rubber matting so the animals are insulated from the heat or cold, ventilation is also always provided."
As a working dog owner himself, Mr Howell, like many other drivers, sees the animals as his best mate.
"I have never had an issue with them travelling in the box," he said.
"You probably spend more time with your dogs than you do with your family, so they are your best mate.
"You talk to them more than you do anyone else in the week."
Australian Federation of Livestock Working Dogs president Gordon Curtis says the general public isn't often aware of the lives of working dogs.
"There often seems to be a lot of misconceptions about the conditions of working dogs," Mr Curtis said.
"I think you will find the majority of people working with them will have their best interest at heart, because it is in their interest to do so.
"A stock agent has their dog with them 24/7, like an athlete the dogs need to be in peak condition to perform.
"From a safety point they are also important, a dog can unload a truck so much safer than what a person can swinging around on the sides of them trying to unload them."
Mr Curtis also questioned the concerns about the dog's contact with dust while travelling in the boxes.
"It isn't the only position dogs would come into contact with dust, particularly in the summer time in the cattle yard or paddock the dogs are in a dusty position," he said.
"I would imagine most of the dog boxes have more air flow.
"This is an industry that needs their animals, at the end of the day they are a work mate and there to help them complete the job."