The European Parliament has today adopted a Resolution formally calling on the European Commission to take action to stop the growing illegal trade in pets across the EU.
The Resolution, which was coordinated by Renate Sommer MEP, has been underpinned by Eurogroup for Animals’ Protect Our Pets campaign, which has seen over 500,000 e-mails sent to MEPs from right across Europe since its launch on 9 September 2015.
Many NGOs, including Member Organisations of Eurogroup for Animals, veterinarians and enforcement agencies have seen a meteoric growth in the illegal trafficking of dogs and cats since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme in 2003. This system, which was designed to allow owners to move with their pets, whether for work, on holiday or for pet shows, but has too often been exploited and abused for wholly commercial purposes, often by organised criminals. The trafficking of pets is estimated to be the third most profitable illegal trade after weapons and drugs within the EU.
The illegal trade provides demand for many inhumane puppy farms and backstreet breeders of pedigree cats and dogs. Pets are transported across the Union without appropriate vaccinations and in horrific conditions, are often poorly socialised, meaning that they can be aggressive and even dangerous, and many contract life-threatening diseases which too often leave unsuspecting owners heartbroken. In addition, many of the diseases that the dogs and cats carry pose a real and serious threat to the health of other animals and humans alike – rabies being the most renowned of these.
Director Reineke Hameleers said: “We at Eurogroup for Animals wholeheartedly welcome the adoption of the Resolution by the European Parliament today, and commend MEPs for listening to the hundreds of thousands of citizens who have asked them to back the Resolution from Renate Sommer.
“This Resolution sends a clear signal to the European Commission that it is time to act to stop this horrific, illegal trade. They have the powers in place, they have the evidence from their own study, and now they have the clear political will from the elected representatives of the Union too. My sincere thanks to Renate Sommer and to all those who voted for the motion.”
The preliminary conclusions of the Commission’s own study on the welfare of cats and dogs involved in commercial practices were released in November last year, stating that there needed be ‘greater systematic requirements’ concerning the identification and registration of pets.
Renate Sommer MEP, the instigator of the Parliament’s Resolution added: “This 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.”
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