12 February 2020 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS welcomes today’s decision of the European Parliament to call upon the European Commission and Member States to take decisive action against the illegal pet trade. Parliament adopted a Motion for Resolution proposing EU-wide measures that would protect animal and public health as well as consumer safety. The Motion calls for an EU action plan that would improve law enforcement and apply tougher sanctions against those involved in the illegal puppy trade, as well as improve the capacity of customs and veterinary officials to detect puppy smugglers. Moreover, it aims to regulate online advertisements for pets and protect pet buyers from fraud. FOUR PAWS urges the EU Commission to finally enforce proper regulations and controls to efficiently tackle the illegal pet trade that causes the suffering of millions of dogs and cats every year.
FOUR PAWS has been campaigning against the illegal pet trade for years, urging EU decision-makers to implement some of the major aspects that are now highlighted in the Motion. Most Member States already have some requirements regarding Identification and Registration (I&R) of dogs and cats, but the lack of EU-wide harmonisation of the I&R systems, and lack of database connectivity, has serious consequences at the expense of the animals.
“Mandatory and aligned Identification and Registration of all cats and dogs is a crucial step to combat the illegal pet trade. We are very happy that the European Parliament wants to go forward with such an important milestone for animal welfare. Strict and properly enforced regulations across the EU that prevent dealers from selling illegally imported, unvaccinated or sick animals on online platforms will protect humans and animals alike,”
Pierre Sultana, Director of the European Policy Office of FOUR PAWS in Brussels.
The Motion additionally requests the inclusion of the registration number of everyone involved in an animal’s life, especially those of the breeder, seller, vet, transporter and owner in the registration database. This will provide for greater transparency regarding the origin of the animals.
The Motion now calls upon all Member States to further build on the outcomes of the ‘EU Coordinated Control Plan’ on online sales of dogs and cats, which highlighted the need for safe trade. Suggested actions include partnerships between authorities, websites, databases, and animal welfare organisations to take action against misleading pet advertisements. It also proposes mandatory identity verification for anyone selling a pet using online platforms. “An estimated 2.4 million dogs are traded each year across Europe’s leading classified ad sites, many with unclear origins. These puppies are bred in very poor and unhygienic conditions, and some will not survive more than a few days after purchase. Anonymity drives the illegal online puppy trade, which is why it is so important that the EU Parliament has supported these steps to crack down on puppy dealers and improve consumer awareness,” says Joanna Randall, International Head of Companion Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.