AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection today published a report which sheds light on the alarming lack of EU regulation covering the private ownership of the vast majority of all 5,488 known mammal species, most of which can be kept as pets somewhere in the EU. Even species with extraordinarily complex care needs, such as primates, are allowed in many EU Member States as companion animals.
“The exotic pet trade is a pan-European industry involving millions of animals, yet there is no EU legislation covering the welfare of pets, including exotic pets,” said Raquel García-van der Walle, AAP’s Head of Public Policy. “What our report today shows is that the current patchwork of national legislation which attempts to regulate exotic pet keeping is not fit for purpose and actually endangers animal welfare, native biodiversity and human health and safety.”
This patchwork of regulation across Europe ensures there is no consensus to determine which species are allowed and which are not, let alone which welfare requirements should be adhered to.
The exotic pet trade is booming and largely uncontrolled, but AAP’s research shows extreme differences in the species allowed or banned in different EU Member States, even neighbouring ones. This gives rise to varying conditions between EU countries and animals being mistreated, clearly distorting the EU’s internal market.
Moreover, this legislative fragmentation raises doubts about consumer protection and a level playing field, with evidence pointing to a widespread lack of knowledge among prospective exotic pet keepers. Consumer education is failing across Europe, and with it, responsible ownership.
This is why AAP is calling for a Positive List of species allowed as pets throughout the EU. Whether a standalone piece of legislation or as part of an integrated EU framework, such a List would help increase transparency and consumer information.
“We believe a Positive List is the most holistic, effective, concise, transparent, enforceable and economically feasible way to regulate this issue at the EU level,” continued Raquel García-van der Walle. “What’s more, we have political buy-in for such a list, with at least 94 newly elected MEPs representing a wide variety of political families committing to supporting its adoption.”
As stated in the EU’s Animal Welfare Strategy, the “treatment of animals relates to ethics and is part of the Union’s set of values.” As AAP we call on the new European Commission to put those values to work and take the opportunity provided by the evaluation of the Strategy to highlight that the welfare of wildlife in private ownership has not been addressed and deserves urgent attention. Ultimately, this should act as a stepping-stone towards the adoption of an EU Positive List for pets.
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