(BRUSSELS) – MEPs on the European Parliament’s health committee proposed Wednesday measures to help EU countries tackle illegal trade in pets, often committed by cross-border criminal networks.

The illegal trade in pets within the EU can generate very high profits at minimal risk, often in terrible conditions, with puppies and kittens often separated from their mothers early and subjected to long journeys across the EU in cramped and filthy conditions.

Identifying and registering cats and dogs is a crucial and necessary step in combating their illegal breeding and trade, often in terrible conditions, says the committee..

MEPs stress that much of this illegal trade crosses borders and hence that good cooperation between EU countries is urgently needed to break up criminal networks..

The EU Commission should therefore table measures to ensure that the national databases used to identify and register cats and dogs are mutually compatible, and linked through an EU platform, says the committee.

MEPs also point out that online adverts and social media, which are now commonly used to purchase pets across the EU, offer very little protection for consumer rights. Unknown numbers of illegally-bred pets are also sold on markets or directly out of cars..

The Commission should propose a uniform definition of large-scale commercial breeding facilities also known as puppy and kitten farms, in order to tackle illegal trade, as breeders’ animal welfare standards differ widely between member states, leading to big price differences that are exploited by illegal breeders, says the resolution..

The EU should develop breeding guidelines for pets, and member states should be encouraged to set up a register of authorised pet breeders and sellers, MEPs say..

Illegal trafficking of pets could also be curbed by improving law enforcement and toughening sanctions against economic operators, veterinarians or national public services, who supply counterfeit pet passports, they add..

The motion will now be put to a vote by the Parliament’s full House during its September plenary session in Strasbourg.

Animal welfare in the European Union – study for the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions



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