Today, the widespread nature of the Internet has meant that pet sellers can reach a much greater audience of potential buyers, in their own countries and abroad. Pet sellers are not required to register on websites with classified adverts and thus can remain anonymous. This practice has lead to a sharp rise in illegal activities such as the importing and selling of exotic breeds of dogs and exotic animals.
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe states that the illegal trade of pets can lead to financial and tax fraud, unfair competition, and organised crime. In addition to the fact that the practice is detrimental to animal welfare, it is worth considering the impact that it can have on public health, bearing in mind the risk of cross-border contagion of infectious diseases — including zoonosis.
Does the Commission plan to create a regulation on online animal trade under which it would be compulsory to have a public register of breeders and sellers?
Where online trade involves the movement of dogs and cats across EU internal borders, it is subject to the rules laid down in Directives 92/65/EEC and 90/425/EEC.
In addition to the required individual animal health conditions (marking, EU pet passport, anti-rabies vaccination and clinical examination), dogs and cats subject to intra-Union trade must come from holdings or businesses registered by the competent authority of dispatch and be accompanied by an animal health certificate issued by an official veterinarian.
Where the animal health conditions laid down in Directive 92/65/EEC are fulfilled, the competent authority of the Member State of dispatch shall inform the Member State of destination through TRACES (the TRAde Control and Expert System) of the intended movement and provide detailed information relating to the consignment and operators involved in the trade.
The enforcement of these rules is the responsibility of Member States which need to develop the necessary tools and procedures to perform the official controls and the intelligence to detect and combat fraudulent activities as well as to lay down rules on effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
Public awareness campaigns explaining to potential customers the animal and public health risks and the animal welfare implications related to the purchase of illegally moved animals are also part of Member States' responsibilities.
Against this background, the Commission does not plan any legislative initiative at this stage.