A step forward against illegal pet trade

Today, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has voted in favor of the adoption of a Motion for a Resolution on “Protecting the EU’s internal market and consumer rights against the negative implications of the illegal trade in companion animals”.


FOUR PAWS believes that the issue of the illegal pet trade is a crucial one and is now delighted to see the ENVI Committee reiterating the need to address it. FOUR PAWS therefore welcomes the vote, which would lead to an official call for action to the European Commission, should the Parliament decide to support the Motion in its plenary vote in February.

Severely compromising consumer protection, public and animal health, and animal welfare, the illegal pet trade touches upon various pieces of legislation. Underlining the importance of Identification and Registration (I&R) for animal, breeder, seller and owner traceability, the Motion calls the Commission to fully utilize the Delegated powers under Regulation (EU) 2016/429 (Animal Health Law), which provide the legal basis for EU-wide, mandatory and harmonized I&R systems. Particular attention is paid to the registration of operators of all breeding and selling establishments, as mandated by the Animal Health Law. This is critical for detecting the source of disease and transparency in the pet supply chain.

The Motion also urges the Commission to build on the recommendations of the EU Coordinated Control Plan on online sales of cats and dogs (2019), which reported serious discrepancies in the online trade, including inconsistencies between traders’ status and activity. To that end it suggests the deployment of partnerships between authorities, I&R databases, classified websites and animal welfare organizations for specific measures against misleading advertising and illegal online trade. Additionally, the Motion welcomes the work of the Voluntary Initiative Subgroup on Health and Welfare of Pets in Trade under the EU Platform for Animal Welfare and calls for the allocation of sufficient resources to facilitate progress and dissemination of the outcomes produced.

Evidence shows that the illegal pet trade is skyrocketing online, as confirmed by animal welfare organisations, veterinarians, competent authorities and enforcement services. It is therefore essential that attention is paid to online trade channels, by applying measures for increased animal, breeder and seller traceability, hence, FOUR PAWS is calling for the European Parliament to support the ENVI Committee in its Plenary Session.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org 

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