The illegal trade in companion animals bears all the hallmarks of organised crime. Indeed, in its strategy to fight organised crime, the Commission mentioned that animals continue to be trafficked for sale as pets, often on a large scale and sometimes with potentially devastating consequences.
1. How does the Commission plan to address this issue?
2. Does the Commission intend to establish an EU taskforce to tackle the illegal cross-border trade in animals and ensure funding for cross-border enforcement projects?
Illegal and unregistered movements of companion animals is of big concern for European countries protecting animal and public health. The Commission, the Member States and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries are carrying out an EU enforcement action to tackle the illegal trade of pets since July 20221 to deter fraudsters involved in these activities. Since its start, more than four hundred cases have been or are still being investigated. These investigations led to identification of individuals but also networks akin to organised crime. This is why this enforcement action is also supported by police forces within the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT Envicrime)2 fighting organised crime at an EU level.
In the context of the revision of the EU legislation on animal welfare, the Commission is assessing policy options to protect the welfare of dogs and cats which include potential measures such as mandatory identification and registration of pups and kittens before they are dispatched from commercial breeding establishments. Such measures would improve traceability of these animals back to their litter, improve official controls, and better control trade of cats and dogs in the EU.