The Four Paws Model Solution Wants Full Traceability of Pets

How can illegal puppy dealers be excluded from the market?


The online puppy trade in Europe is estimated to worth almost 1.5 billion pounds per year.

Illegal puppy breeders who keep thousands of puppies and their mothers in appalling conditions, who are then smuggled long distances across Europe and sold on classified ad sites for huge prices in the UK.

With no requirement to verify their authenticity, these sites offer rogue breeders complete anonymity to advertise illegally imported puppies. Puppy dealers can simply disappear once a sale has been made, leaving the new owners to deal with sick animals and high veterinary fees.

If you’ve been a victim of this trade, report it.

Traceability is the key to clamp down illegal puppy dealers. With this in mind, FOUR PAWS has developed a Model Solution which helps to verify seller’s identities.

The Model Solution seeks the implementation of national digital Identification & Registration (I&R) databases which provide full traceability and identification of stakeholders throughout a dog’s lifecycle: breeder, seller, transporter, the microchipping vet, the registering qualified professional, as well as all consecutive owners.

There is recent legislation such as Lucy’s Law in England, which bans the third party sales of puppies and kittens, however, this law fails to tackle the traceability issue and unlicensed breeders are still able to operate freely.

To really stamp out illegal practices we need full traceability – meaning not just for the breeders and sellers, but for every individual dog, for their entire lifespan.

Animal Charity - Puppy Trade

How Could We Achieve This?

There must be a legal requirement for mandatory microchipping of every pet, and legal obligations for I&R databases to collect data covering all stakeholders involved in the dog’s life.  These I&R databases, which are already in use across Europe, would then need to be linked up to allow cross border investigations. This process would make it easier to see which animals are from which breeding/seller establishment and full pet and seller traceability can be achieved.

In addition to this, FOUR PAWS is recommending that classified ad sites use an automated checking system which links to the I&R databases, to ensure only microchipped and registered dogs can be advertised on their sites.

Please find out more on our Model Solution report here.

been a victim of an illegal puppy dealer?

Report It Here
Animal Charity - Joana

Joana Fernandes

UK Investigations Consultant

Joana supports the UK investigations Team by managing illegal puppy trade cases reported to the FOUR PAWS UK. She also liaises with the Communication Team helping to raise awareness about this issue. She has over five years experience as a researcher and project assistant in wildlife conservation and animal welfare, both in the UK and internationally.   

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