Tomorrow (Thursday 4th February), Members of the European Parliament will press the European Commission on taking steps to stop the illegal trade in pet animals. Many NGOs, veterinarians and law enforcement authorities have seen a meteoric rise in in the number of dogs that are illegally being moved cross borders within the EU. More recently, the same trend has been seen with pedigree cats too.
The illegal trade relies on the exploitation of fundamental flaws with the European Pet Travel Scheme, which is designed to allow the movement of pets with their owners for non-commercial purposes providing certain conditions have been met, and providing that the animals have received relevant vaccinations. However, this system has increasingly been used for wholly commercial purposes, often by organised criminal gangs. Pet Passports are often forged, not linked to the animals travelling, and it is not always clear whether the animals have received the proper vaccinations against serious transmissible diseases such as rabies. This trade has become so prolific in recent years that it is now estimated to the third most profitable illegal trade after weapons and drugs within the EU.
In September last year, Eurogroup for Animals launched their Protect Our Pets campaign, which aims to stop the illegal trade by ensuring that the animals can effectively be traced across internal EU borders. This campaign comes thanks to collaboration with Renate Sommer MEP (EPP, DE-NW), who drafted a Motion for a Resolution asking the Commission to use new animal health powers to mandate minimum requirements for the identification and registration of cats and dogs in each Member State. This briefing here explains how this would help to stop the illegal trade.
Since the campaign’s launch, over 430,000 e-mails have been sent to MEPs asking them to support this Motion for a Resolution. If adopted at the end of the month, the Resolution will formally ask the Commission to bring forward new rules on pet identification and registration on behalf of the whole European Parliament.
Commenting ahead of the debate, Renate Sommer said “This draft Resolution seeks to mitigate the most opaque elements of the Pet Travel Scheme, namely by harmonising the national identification and registration systems and requirements for pets across the EU. Such a harmonisation would provide greater certainties over the age of any given animal, its vaccination status, and would allow for proper cross-border traceability. “Many Member States already have systems for the identification and registration of pets. We are not seeking to re-invent the wheel here – we do not see the need for some sort of single EU level database. All we need is to have the same requirements, with compatible systems in each Member State. This should neither be beyond the wit of EU Governments, nor should it cause any concerns with the Commission over the issue of subsidiarity. “The evidence is clear, as is the solution. As well as being our companions, pets do pose serious transmissible disease threats to animals and humans alike. I now hope that the Commission will have the courage to take the necessary political decision, based on our Resolution, so that we can end this cruel inhumane trade, and so that Europe’s pets, animals and owners alike are better protected in the future.”