The European Commission has today outlined the long-awaited conclusions from their study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices* at the second EU level conference on dog & cat welfare, hosted by the Representation of Baden-Württemberg to the EU, and co-sponsored by Eurogroup for Animals.
The study’s conclusions suggest actions for Member States, aimed at better enforcement and information to prospective owners, and recognises the need for systematic requirements on identification and registration across the Union.
Eurogroup for Animals, the primary confederation of animal protection organisations representing cat and dog welfare at EU level, and which was on the advisory board to the study, believes that such a harmonisation is necessary to stop the illegal smuggling of pets, which many Eurogroup Member Organisations have seen at first hand over the past ten years.
Commenting, Peter Hepburn, Chief Executive of Cats Protection and Chair of Eurogroup’s Working Group on cat and dog welfare said: “The conclusions of this study proves that the evidence provided by Eurogroup concerning the cruel, growing and illegal abuse of the Pet Travel Scheme, which poses serious threats to the health, welfare and safety of animals and humans alike has been recognised and we are pleased that the study calls for action to address this.”
He continued: “We hope that the Commission will now act responsibly and come up with an EU action plan to tackle this illegal trade, even if only for the veterinary public health risks that the illegal trade poses.”
Commenting during the conference Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals stated: “The Eurogroup family are pleased that this study has recognised the need for improved identification and registration for cats and dogs in the EU. We hope that harmonised, mandatory identification systems and requirements will now be introduced in each Member State, based on what has already been agreed for equines, and providing for effective cross-border traceability. We will also continue to work with the Commission on new guidance for owners and prospective owners, so that they are better informed when it comes to buying or rehoming a pet.”
This September, Eurogroup for Animals launched the first pan-EU campaign designed to end the illegal trade in cats and dogs, called Protect Our Pets. The campaign has seen over 150,000 e-mails to MEPs so far, and is set to culminate in a European Parliamentary Resolution, which will formally call on the Commission to harmonise systems and standards for the identification and registration of cats and dogs in the EU.
Dr Renate Sommer MEP, who is drafting the Motion in the European Parliament added: “The evidence of the illegal trade in pets, and the threats the trade poses is clear, whatever the results of this study. Whilst Member States can of course do more to inform pet owners and prospective owners on getting a new pet, and should take action to clamp down on poor breeding practices too, the faults inbuilt into the Pet Travel Scheme will not fix themselves.
“Until the scope for uncertainly surrounding the stated age of a pet in its passport is mitigated, and until individual animals can be traced cross-border accurately, these animals will continue to be traded illegally, pose threats and will leave too many families heartbroken. I now trust that my colleagues in the European Parliament will stand with me in seeking a legal solution to clamp down on these practices once and for all,” she concluded.
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- Eurogroup for Animals represents animal protection organisations in all EU Member States. Since its launch in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup represents public opinion through its membership organisations across the Union, and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal welfare. For more information, visit eurogroupforanimals.org
- *The study was conducted in 2014, and was tasked with investigating the breeding, sale and trade of cats and dogs within the EU, and crucially to investigate growing evidence of an illegal trade in pets, abusing the Pet Travel Scheme.
- Eurogroup also participated in the CALLISTO think tank, which was funded by the European Commission, and which investigated the transmissible disease threats that companion animals pose to other animals and to humans. (Link to conclusions)