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 an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly.