Q: Henna Virkkunen (PPE, FI) - Closing down illegal puppy farms (2019-04-16)

Q: Henna Virkkunen (PPE, FI) - Closing down illegal puppy farms (2019-04-16)

Over half a million dogs change hands in the EU in the course of any given year, and the pet trade has a turnover of more than one billion euros per annum. There are considerable differences in national legislation on the pet trade in the various Member States. This has facilitated a great deal of illegal cross-border trade in pets and the operation of many puppy farms.

The illegal activities often involved are failure to comply with tax obligations, counterfeiting of documents, ill-treatment of animals and outright animal welfare offences. Unethical and irresponsible puppy farms supplying the dog trade also pose public health risks, as animal health and vaccination requirements are neglected and documents are falsified.

Illegal trade in animals is already the EU’s third largest field of organised crime after drugs and arms trafficking. It needs to be tackled in a much more efficient way.

What measures does the Commission intend to take to tackle the illegal trade in animals and illegal puppy farms?

Is the Commission preparing more stringent legislation to improve the common animal identification system?

A: Vice-President Katainen on behalf of the European Commission

It is the responsibility of the Member States to ensure that the welfare of dogs kept for the commercial production of puppies is effectively protected [1], and that dogs which by law have to be moved to other Member States under the intra-Union trade rules, such as puppies for sale, comply with the conditions laid down in Directive 92/65/EEC [2]. The provisions of Regulation (EU) No 576/2013[3] on the non commercial movement cannot be applied to the movement of puppies for sale.

Based on the empowerments conferred on the Commission in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/429 [4] , including those in Articles 87(3), 97(2), 101(3), 106(1), 118(2) and 136 thereof, delegated acts are being prepared to supplement that Regulation as regards the registration of operators, the approval of certain relevant establishments and the animal health conditions and traceability requirements for the movement of dogs to other Member States. 

[1] Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes (OJ L 221, 8.8.1998, p. 23). 

[2] Council Directive 92/65/EEC of 13 July 1992 laying down animal health requirements governing trade in and imports into the Community of animals, semen, ova and embryos not subject to animal health requirements laid down in specific Community rules referred to in Annex A (I) to Directive 90/425/EEC (OJ L 268, 14.9.1992, p. 54). 

[3] Regulation (EU) No 576/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on the non commercial movement of pet animals and repealing Regulation (EC) No 998/2003 (OJ L 178, 28.6.2013, p. 1). 

[4] Regulation (EU)
2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on transmissible animal diseases and amending and repealing certain acts in the area of animal health ('Animal Health Law') (OJ L 84, 31.3.2016, p. 1).