The development of e-commerce has led to a spectacular increase in the illegal pet trade. Online platforms and social media allowing unverified advertisements substantially contribute to the very lucrative smuggling of companion animals. Even when legal, online pet sales remain unregulated and pose serious risks to the welfare of animals, public health and consumers’ rights, and affect the EU internal market through lost taxes and unfair competition.
The ‘EU Coordinated Control Plan on online sales of dogs and cats’ by the Commission revealed that many of the animals traded are too young, unhealthy or not vaccinated. Transported for long journeys, new-born puppies and kittens suffer from heat or cold, thirst and stress, and are at high risk of transmissible diseases. Those that survive often become poorly socialised and unmanageable, leading to abandonment. Technical difficulties to control the online market were also detected.
1. Is the Commission planning to help Member States to carry out information and awareness-raising campaigns advising citizens to only purchase animals traded in a responsible way with due concern for animal welfare?
2. Will the Commission commit to better law enforcement by providing training on control of online pet trafficking to national public services such as customs and veterinary offices?
1. The voluntary initiative on the health and welfare of pets in trade(1), operating within the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, has elaborated several documents, including guidelines and a leaflet for buyers of dogs online. These documents provide information on what to check before buying a dog online. They have been endorsed by the Platform members and are aimed to be promoted in Member States in order to raise awareness of citizens planning to purchase a pet.
2. The Member States have the primary responsibility for transposing, applying and implementing EC law correctly. To assist Member States in carrying out this task, the Commission is considering reinforcing the collaboration between competent services for companion animals and other services such as the Agri-Food Fraud Network, e-commerce expert groups and customs authorities. Building on the previous EU coordinated plan led in 2019, this action would help national authorities to gain insight on the online market of pets, their imports and their trade within the EU.