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02 February, 2023
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European Commission to stamp out illegal pet trade

The EU is passing the necessary laws, but national governments need to step up their game, the Cypriot Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides said

Newsroom / CNA

The European Commission will boost efforts to stamp out the illegal trade in pets, particularly cats and dogs, in the EU, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides said.

Addressing the European Parliament plenary on Tuesday evening on protecting the EU’s internal market and consumer rights against the negative implications of the illegal trade of pets, Kyriakides stressed that it is a matter she feels quite strongly about and is something that “we, as the Parliament, must commit to monitoring and ending.”

Kyriakides said the Commission will closely monitor the situation and will work with Member States and other stakeholders to put an end to the illegal trade of pets in the EU.

She noted that the welfare of pets is mainly regulated at the national level, as Member States are responsible for the identification and registration of pets, as well as for the conditions in which pets are moved within national borders.

Kyriakides added that clear rules apply to both the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets, as well as to the movement of pets into and out of the EU.

These rules are mainly designed to protect the health of animals and to prevent the spread of serious animal diseases, such as rabies. They also ensure any dogs and cats entering the EU or moved between EU countries are properly identified and vaccinated.

Where illegal trade in cats and dogs is identified, she said, it is therefore usually not due to a lack of legislation, but rather due to the failure on behalf of Member States to properly enforce the legislation in place.

And that is where we need to collectively devote our energy, Kyriakides stressed.

The new Animal Health Law, which will come into force in April 2021, Kyriakides said, includes essential improvements. One such improvement is that it demands the compulsory registration of all establishments that breed dogs and cats, as well as all transporters who shift pets between Member States.

It also obliges Member States to approve all shelters and assembly centres from which dogs and cats are moved to other Member States.

These new measures will help to monitor the trade of pets, adding that it is crucial that these rules are properly applied and enforced, through actions such as an EU Coordinated Control Plan on the online sale of dogs and cats and the voluntary initiative launched in the framework of the EU animal welfare platform - the Subgroup on Health and Welfare of Pets.

She also referred to the training provided for national authorities via the “Better training for safer food initiative”, encouraging best practices to control imports and trade of dogs and cats.

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