The dogfighting business is worth some EUR 3 billion in Europe, according to the most recent and reliable estimates by the Lega Anti Vivisezione (Italian Anti-Vivisection League).
This sport is practised in many European countries but is particularly popular in Italy and eastern Europe, as uncovered in investigations that have helped to combat the system in recent years.
Bets range from EUR 250 in low-ranking rings to EUR 10 000 for matches between high-pedigree dogs. Criminal organisations rely mainly on stray dogs, which in Italy alone number in excess of a million.
Trade is aided through websites that are presented as shopfronts for dog lovers but are, in actual fact, promoting dogfighting: in addition to the dogs’ pedigree, they also list the number of matches they have won and assign them a specific score(1).
In Italy, although dogfighting is a specific offence by law, convictions never exceed two years because it is difficult to identify criminal associations.
1. Does the Commission intend to establish rules at EU level to tackle this practice?
2. What action has it taken thus far?
3. What action does it take regarding strays and sites that promote dogfighting?
(2) This question is supported by Members other than the authors: Eleonora Evi (Verts/ALE), Piernicola Pedicini (Verts/ALE)
1. & 2. The welfare of stray and companion dogs is not governed by EU rules. It remains the sole responsibility of the Member State concerned. Therefore, the Commission has no legal competence to intervene in the matter of dogfighting mentioned by the Honourable Members.
3. Despite the fact that the welfare of stray dogs is not governed by EU rules, some concrete actions were and are still undertaken by the Commission. In particular, the Commission supports the work of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on guidelines for the control of stray dog populations(1). In addition, within the framework of the OIE Regional Platform on Animal Welfare for Europe(2), the Commission is assisting OIE member countries in Eastern Europe to achieve compliance with the standards set-up by the guidelines.
Under the Animal Health Law important steps are taken to improve registration and traceability of cats and dogs and as from 21 April 2021, a compulsory registration of establishments breeding cats and dogs is required in all Member States. In addition, the registration of transporters involved in their trade between Member States is also required. The issue of cats and dogs will also be looked at in the context of the revision of the legislation on welfare during transport.