The European Parliament is Standing Up for Pets – the Commission Must Follow
On 12 February the European Parliament, with 97% of votes in favour, called on the European Commission to establish a mandatory EU system for registration of cats and dogs, better regulating online sales and improved law enforcement, declaring its firm opposition of the illegal pet trade.
With 607 votes in favour out of a total of 629 voters, the Members of the European Parliament supported a resolution to protect cats and dogs, as well as the EU’s internal market and consumer rights, against the illegal trade in companion animals. Eurogroup for Animals is convinced that with a number of the proposed measures, it will be possible to make the EU’s cross-border pet trade safer for animals and consumers alike.
Firstly, the implementation of EU wide identification and registration for cats and dogs would ensure the full traceability of traded animals. With the powers granted by the Animal Health Law we must see a delegated act before 2023 to tackle this problem.
Secondly, there should be supervision for suppliers of animals. As most trade across the EU happens online, we must see a move towards improved verification systems for traders and sellers under the upcoming Digital Services Act.
Finally, in order to secure the welfare of traded pets the European Commission must build on the recommendations of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare regarding breeding, commercial transport and online sale of cats and dogs. The large majority of pets from illegal sources are sold online, and their lucrative trade across the EU is often disguised as the non-commercial movement of pets. Not only that, but these cats and dogs often do not comply with the established health requirements. They are often too young to have been vaccinated, or are accompanied by fraudulent passports giving false information about their origins. Eurogroup for Animals’ members are being asked to rescue many of these animals and call on the European Commission to introduce structural solutions to the problem of illegal pet trade.
This illegal EU-wide trade, facilitated by digital tools, is a threat not just to the welfare of the animals involved but also to animal and public health and EU consumers. It is crucial that improvements are made to the current control mechanisms.
“Many consumers are unaware of the EU-wide illegal pet trade, and are often pushed to make an immediate purchase. We also tend to trust internet platforms and consider online advertisements reliable. That makes us, the consumers, and the pets vulnerable,” stated Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals.
“The EU has a key role to play in better regulating the Europe wide trade of pet animals. We are calling for Commissioner Kyriakides to take this problem and citizens’ concerns very seriously and use legislative opportunities under this term to bring illegal pet trade to an end.”