Since 2020, EU and EFTA Member States authorities and the European Commission have been using the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (iRASFF) to share information and request investigation of suspected illegal movement of dogs and cats into the EU, or across EU borders.
The EU Coordinated Control Action on illegal trade of cats and dogs, running from mid-2022 to mid-2023, has enhanced cooperation between the EU and EFTA Member States, the European Commission, Europol and the “EMPACT” Envicrime network, with the aim of better understanding the international illegal pet trade and identifying the actors involved.
How can NGOs and vets contribute?
NGOs and vets in EU and EFTA countries can submit evidence of suspected illegal cross-border movement of dogs and cats that may lead to or support investigations.
Illegal movement (i.e. breach of EU legislation ) includes cross-border transport of dogs or cats where any of the following are identified:
- Underage (under 15 weeks)
- No microchip
- With invalid Rabies vaccination status (Fewer than 21 days since primary rabies vaccination, or no booster vaccination carried out within the period of validity of the preceding vaccination; Rabies antibody level lower than 0.5 IU/mL after alleged vaccination)
- (If travelling to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta:) No tapeworm treatment administered by a vet within the appropriate timeframe (24-120hrs before arrival if intra-EU, or 24-48hrs from non-EU)
- With falsified / incorrect / absent documents (e.g. Animal Health Certificate, Pet Passport)
- Transported for commercial purposes under the pet travel (non-commercial) rules – i.e. change of ownership after arrival despite being transported “non-commercially” (including for rehoming)
How to report suspicious cases
Send information directly to your national Agri-Food Fraud contact point: https://food.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2022-09/food-fraud_contact-points.pdf
- Please clearly state that this is a suspected case of illegally traded dog(s)/cat(s)
- Evidence of illegal cross-border movement (see list above) may be shown via a website URL, screenshots, photos or other means
- You can ask for the information to be treated anonymously (whistle-blower)
Alternatively, send information to the European Commission: SANTEemail@example.com
What happens after reporting?
The competent authorities may request international assistance in iRASFF, such as:
- Asking country of origin for verification of authenticity of suspicious documents (Pet Passport / Animal Health Certificate) in national database or by veterinary authorities
- Informing other countries about forged laboratory reports of rabies titration results
- Asking to trace the real origin of the animal (absent or misleading information in TRACES documents – IMPORT and INTRA)
- Informing/asking about recurrent operators (trader, breeder, etc.) involved in illicit practices
The findings may lead to further investigations and potential legal proceedings against the individuals or organisations involved in the illegal activities. However, NGOs and vets should not expect to be contacted or informed of the outcome.
 Rules for movements within the EU: https://food.ec.europa.eu/animals/movement-pets/eu-legislation/movements-within-union_en; Rules for entry into the EU: https://food.ec.europa.eu/animals/movement-pets/eu-legislation/entry-union_en