stray dogs

EU Member States reach agreement on cats and dogs regulation, but loopholes remain

FOUR PAWS welcomes the Council General Approach, but highlights missed opportunity 


BRUSSELS - Today the Belgian Presidency has finalised Council talks on the proposed regulation on cats and dogs, but a key element to close the loopholes that allow for the illegal pet trade to continue has been left out.

While FOUR PAWS welcomes the progress made in several areas, such as database interoperability, breeder requirements and the online trade, the global animal welfare organisation warns that failure to apply Identification and Registration (I&R) rules for all cats and dogs will make the regulation devoid of its purpose.

The General Approach foresees I&R to be obligatory only for animals kept in establishments and for those placed on the market. Yet, I&R for all dogs and cats is the key to a safe and legal trade. It is the only way to address the main problem identified by the Commission and Member States in both EU Enforcement Actions on the Illegal Movement of Cats and Dogs in 2018 and 2023; private people keep unregistered animals, ostensibly as pets, and trade them, also cross border misusing the rules on non-commercial movement.  

“Excluding animals that that may not be in establishments or be seen as imminently traded, which are most cats and dogs that are strays or private pets, from the scope of the regulation will allow the current loopholes, fraud and market distortion to perpetuate. The illegal trade will go on, as people will keep trading animals that cannot be traced back to them, also misusing the rules on non-commercial movement and successfully passing through any controls. Needless to say, the work of identifying fraud for enforcement authorities will not get much easier. 

“We now look to the European Parliament to maintain its position expressed through past Resolutions and, in the next few months, push for an ambitious text that puts an end to the illegal pet trade once and for all.” 

Georgia Diamantopoulou, Companion Animals Coordinator at FOUR PAWS


Notes to editors 

Enforcement authorities have no tools to identify or track fraud in non-commercial movements of animals. With the current proposal, this won’t change. The EU Enforcement Action on the Illegal Trade of Cats and Dogs concludes that "Dedicated measures are necessary to help address the complexity of the illegal pet trade. To that end, it is essential that enforcement authorities operate within a streamlined and predictable regulatory framework, equipped with the necessary means, including technological, that would provide for cross-border access to reliable traceability information on individual animals, allowing them to perform their duties as efficiently as possible."  

Morgane Speeckaert

Morgane Speeckaert

EU Communications Coordinator

+39 331 365 4110

Rue Ducale 29, 1000 Brussels

FOUR PAWS - Animal Welfare ASBL

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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