dog and cat resting

European Commission publishes last-minute proposal on Pets 

FOUR PAWS welcomes new move to finally tackle illegal pet trade 


BRUSSELS – Today, along with the much-awaited proposal on live animal transport, the European Commission published an additional proposal for a regulation on pets. 

After extensive work on this long-standing problem, FOUR PAWS welcomes this move. 

The new proposed regulation is set to tackle the serious problems associated with the illegal pet trade which has sky-rocketed in the last three years.  

While FOUR PAWS has been investigating the online pet trade for decades, in July 2022 the European Commission launched an EU Coordinated Control Plan on the Illegal Movement of pets.  

Its report, published today, shows that the pet market is rife with illegal breeders operating within organised criminal networks. In addition to the serious animal welfare issues observed, the report showcases the internal market distortions and health risks brought by the trade.  

Disguised as non-commercial pet movement, animals are continuously traded into the EU and sold illegally with no taxes being paid. This amounts to a significant amount of tax revenue lost for Member States especially considering that across only three advertising platforms, 2.4 million dogs are traded annually in the EU and the trade of these platforms alone is worth over €1.5 billion. 

Only two months ago, the latest Eurobarometer on animal welfare showed that 74% of EU citizens believe that the welfare of companion animals in their country should be better protected than it is now. 

“This is fantastic. After extensive work with the European Commission on the Coordinated Control Plan on Illegal Movement of Pets which shows just how extensive, rife, and cruel the illegal pet trade business is, we fully welcome this proposal as a result. FOUR PAWS’ presence in Brussels was first established in 2007 to achieve exactly this. This is the realisation of a mission for us. 

“So far, legislative loopholes have allowed for the illegal pet trade to thrive. We hope the new rules will close them and facilitate the work of enforcement authorities. 

“We are now looking to work with Member States and Members of European Parliament during legislative deliberations to widen the scope of this regulation so that it’s not just cats and dogs that are protected from the illegal pet trade, but also exotic pets.” 

Georgia Diamantopoulou, Companion Animal Policy Coordinator at FOUR PAWS



The proposed regulation is set to tackle the illegal pet trade by introducing mandatory identification and registration rules with database interoperability, as well as regulation of breeding activities (size of enclosures, enrichment and time with mothers). It also includes measures for the regulation of online trade, to address the anonymity of online sellers. 

In our new report, results from investigations carried out by FOUR PAWS show that this cruel trade is thriving, crossing borders and breaking laws. The trade abuses animals, using cruel breeding practices and creating unhealthy puppies, and causes great emotional and financial burden for people too. While our report covers four countries, we believe it is representative of the situation across Europe and the EU. 

Find the FOUR PAWS ‘Puppy Scammers’ report here

Morgane Speeckaert

Morgane Speeckaert

EU Communications Coordinator

+39 331 365 4110

Rue Ducale 29, 1000 Brussels


European Policy Office

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. 

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