Last week, Lithuanian society was deeply shocked by the scope of and conditions involved in illegal dog breeding and animal abuse cases uncovered and publicly reported on in Lithuania: a number of illegal puppy mills were found by volunteers and civil society organisations in three Lithuanian counties in the space of a few days. In spite of the fact that international and Lithuanian NGOs have been raising the issue of large-scale illegal animal breeding in Lithuania for a number of years, government and official institutions have not taken any action to improve the situation, causing the further spread of uncontrolled illegal breeding activities all over the country.
1. What is the Commission’s appraisal of this situation at the present stage?
2. What is the Commission’s position on the deep-rooted institutional ignorance of animal rights in Lithuania and the scope of illegal pet breeding as revealed by this case?
3. What action does the Commission intend to take in relation to Lithuania with regard to this issue?
A: Commissioner Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission is aware of the problems posed by certain so-called puppy mills. To address them, the EU Animal Health Law (AHL) that will be applicable on 21 April 2021 will require compulsory registration of establishments breeding dogs in all Member States. This will facilitate the controls to be performed by the competent authorities.
The Commission is not in the position to assess the situation in Lithuania as to illegal pet breeding because the welfare of pets is not governed by EU legislation. It falls under the sole responsibility of the Member State concerned.
However, where dogs, cats and ferrets are intended for intra-Union trade, the provisions of Council Directive 92/65/EEC apply, notably Article 4 thereof, which amongst others require that the holding of origin is registered and ensures the welfare of the animals.
Member States should take the necessary actions to ensure a proper enforcement of the animal welfare legislation.
 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’)
 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