It is estimated that there are around 60 million pet dogs and 66 million pet cats in Europe. The trade in pet animals generates around EUR 1.3 billion a year and employs 300 000 people. With such a huge turnover it is vital to ensure the welfare of these animals.
In most EU countries there are no controls on the online trade in animals. Many countries have no rules governing the lower age limit at which dogs and cats can be bought and sold. It is obvious that this should not happen immediately after birth. However, every year there are reports of thousands of cases of small animals being sold before they have sufficiently developed.
Moreover, most sellers do not provide the necessary information about rearing and feeding specific breeds of dogs and cats, which significantly impairs the animals’ welfare.
According to Eurostat, 74% of Europeans think that pet animals should be better protected and 87% think that campaigns to raise awareness of the issue are a good solution.
— Is the Commission taking action, or planning to take action, to require pet traders to provide the relevant information on nutrition and wellbeing at the time of sale?— Is the Commission working with NGOs and Member States on this matter?
The intra-EU movement of dogs and cats, including online sales, for commercial or non-commercial purposes, is subject to EU animal health rules, mainly to prevent the spread of rabies. Furthermore, the e-commerce Directive applies to websites featuring live animals for cross-border sales. This is particularly important as the internet trade in dogs and cats is increasing rapidly. There are no EU rules regarding the welfare of dogs and cats.
In August 2018, the Commission adopted a Recommendation for an EU-wide coordinated control plan for official controls on online sales of dogs and cats. It provides a harmonised approach to support authorities’ research and check websites offering dogs and cats for sale. The Recommendation provides for checking the offers’ compliance as to the age of the animal, the individual identification of the animal or the country of origin.
In 2015, the Commission published a study on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices in the EU. The study was conducted within the framework of the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015. Based on the results of the ongoing evaluation of the Strategy which will include a wide consultation of stakeholders and Member States, the Commission will assess the possible need for potential future initiatives, with due regard to the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity.
 Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce); OJ, L 178/1, 17.7.2000.
 Commission Recommendation of 16.8.2018 on a coordinated control plan for the official controls on online sales of dogs and cats; C(2018)5488 final.