The illegal puppy trade is rife with animal cruelty and deception. Every year, countless puppies are bred in deplorable conditions, taken from their mothers too early and transported across Europe to be sold online via classified ad sites. To help combat this exploitative trade, FOUR PAWS has developed a 'Model Solution for full traceability across the European online puppy trade', which requires all puppies to be microchipped and registered, and the seller’s details verified, before they can be advertised online.

The 'Digital Services Act' (DSA) provides an opportunity to protect pets and consumers from the online illegal puppy trade in the EU, if important content is included in the draft. Learn more how you can make this happen. Find out more

Learn more about a technical solution enabling a regulated online trade in this short presentation:

Note: Any advertisements that may appear during the viewing of this video are unrelated to FOUR PAWS. We assume no liability for this content.

Some data in this video is out of date. Read our latest report:

Please note, some details of the check system (e.g. PIN-usage) described in these reports have been improved and simplified since publication of the report, as follows: The seller provides the registered chip & mobile phone number/email to the classified ad site when writing the ad. Europetnet’s API checks with the respective pet registry whether this data is correct, and if so, a onetime code is sent to the seller’s mobile phone/email, which is needed to set the ad live.

Statements of Support

Stakeholders across Europe have already aired their interest in participating in a pioneer project to implement the Model Solution, including EuroPetNet, pet registries and classified ad sites. 

FOUR PAWS is in touch with and supported by several further stakeholders.

Latest News & History of this project

What happened? 

21st April 2021

EU enforces Animal Health Law 

April 2021

The illegal trade in companion animals is recognized by the EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime (2021-2025) as a persisting matter with severe implications. (European Commission2021, Communication on the EU strategy to tackle organised crime

15th June 2020

The EU Platform on Animal Welfare has endorsed guidelines for consumers and online platforms. The guidelines include recommendations for the publication of both microchip number and breeder registration number on online platforms, and state that "Online platforms should as far as possible validate the information a seller provides to advertise online, especially in regard to the identity of the seller and the identity of the animal. Both can be checked through ID verification and back-end checks against the pet registration database, provided that the latter holds reliable data": Find more information under 'Voluntary initiative on the health and welfare of pets (dogs) in trade'

June 2020

A report by international experts to the European Commission included a suggestion to validate a companion animal’s registration to a traceable seller in a pet registry in order to advertise the animal online. Calls for Europe-wide identification and registration of companion animals, and their international traceability were also included. Find out more here. The report is based on the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Eurogroup for Animals’ expert workshop, “The Illegal Pet Trade: Game Over” of 21 April 2020.

February 2020

Milestone action by MEPs to end the illegal puppy trade!
The European Parliament has requested action from the European Commission to tackle the illegal trade in companion animals. With the implementation of 
mandatory registration for all dogs and cats, huge progress can be made towards protecting animals, the EU’s internal market, and consumer rights from the negative implications of the cruel trade. Read the FOUR PAWS press release here. Source: www.europarl.europa.eu

January 2020:

Ireland releases new ANIMAL HEALTH AND WELFARE (SALE OR SUPPLY OF PET ANIMALS) REGULATIONS 2019: Persons selling five or more animals per year must register themselves and their premises with the government. All dog advertisements must display the dog’s microchip number, the dog’s origin, and if applicable, the seller’s registration number.

6th November:

FOUR PAWS presents :''PetSAFE' - a system for EU online classified ad sites that checks whether puppies advertised for sale online are registered, at the  Expert Conference: 'Time to Act - A Mandatory Identification and Registration (I&R) for dogs and cats in Germany and Developments in the EU', Berlin. Link to the presentations. Link to PetSAFE presentation video (from minute 31), and to all presentation videos made at the conference. 

16th October: 

FOUR PAWS UK submitted written evidence to the UK parliament’s Puppy Smuggling Inquiry and made various suggestions to help control the online puppy trade

8th October: 

Europetnet’s Finbarr Heslin presented 'PetSAFE' at the event 'The Next Political Term: What's on the Horizon for Animals' in Brussels

June 2019: 

Presentation of the Model Solution to the Europetnet General Assembly 

Identification and Registration in the EU

Many countries across Europe already have mandatory Identification and Registration (I&R) of dogs which brings us even closer to achieving full implementation of our Model Solution across Europe. 

Below shows a map of all the countries in Europe that already have mandatory I&R: 

Animal Charity

External references to the Model Solution

  • International Companion Animal Management Coalition mentioned the Model Solution as a Case Study in their “HUMANE DOG POPULATION MANAGEMENT GUIDANCE“ Report 
  • Tracing the Trade: Model Solution for Full Traceability across the EU Online Puppy Trade. Article from International Companion Animal Management Coalition
Animal Charity

More Information: 

If you have any questions, please contact office@four-paws.org.uk 

Have you been victim to or witnessed illegal puppy traders? 
Report your experience. 

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download our report