Cats and dogs are some of the most commonly kept animals, yet there is no species-specific welfare legislation to protect them in EU law.
While there are rules and standards for farm animals at EU level, there is little legislation covering the welfare of pets, and they all too often become the victims of abandonment, negligence and abuse.
Where legislation does exist, even policy makers acknowledge that enforcement is often insufficient. How these animals are protected is therefore mostly dependent on national legislation.
Cultural differences in appreciation of animals in general – and cats and dogs in particular – are significant. Some countries see cats and dogs as part of the family, while in others their care is minimal, frequently leading to them being mistreated or abandoned. Local practices such as the caging of cats for a local festival in Spain, and mistreatment of dogs by their owners through physical abuse, lack of socialisation or sufficient exercise or training through punishment, will persist unless there is a fully harmonised framework of at least minimum standards.
Nor are cats and dogs protected when they are being moved around Europe.
While the transport of farm animals is protected at least to some minimum extent, the transport of cats and dogs is not, with no species-specific rules provided - and this is in stark contrast to the booming of the online trade leading to animals being transported cross-border over long distances.
The same is true for welfare standards among breeders of cats and dogs across the EU.
Breeding cats and dogs for a particular ‘look’ (‘extreme traits’) rather than selecting for health is booming, enforced by online sales, and is not covered by legislation – or legislation that exists is not enforced.
THERE ARE AROUND
OWNED CATS IN THE EU
DOGS ARE THE
COMMONEST KEPT ANIMAL IN THE EU
IN A EUROBAROMETER SURVEY,
OF RESPONDENTS THINK MORE MEASURES ARE NEEDED TO PROTECT COMPANION ANIMALS
We would like to see the EC build on the recommendations of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare (EU PAW) voluntary subgroup on the health and welfare of pets in trade to protect the health and welfare of cats and dogs.
In the framework of the EU PAW, Eurogroup for Animals, with the support of Member States and experts, is engaged in developing such guidelines covering consumer information, online platforms, TRACES, I&R, breeding and socialisation, and commercial transport.
We are also keen for the European Commission to propose a delegated act on identification and registration of cats and dogs in response to the increasing illegal pet trade and multiple requests from the European Parliament, as well as to reflect on the proceedings of the Illegal Pet Trade: Game Over workshop of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.