VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS was partner of this conference organized by the Representation of the German State of Baden-Württemberg together with TASSO and Eurogroup for Animals. FOUR PAWS enjoyed the event to launch the first edition of the newly born companion animals’ responsible ownership magazine: CAROmag (1).
On 12th November 2015 was held the EU second conference the welfare of dogs and cats in Europe. Whereas the first one held in November 2013 focused on the welfare of all dogs and cats (2), this new conference targeted the welfare implications related to the commercial breeding and trade of dogs and cats in Europe.
It was attended by more than 120 participants from EU institutions, national ministries, permanent representations to the EU, veterinary services, breeder associations and NGOs.
The Head of the Animal Welfare Unit from the DG SANTE of the European Commission, Dr. Andrea Gavinelli, presented the first outcomes of the EU study on dogs and cats conducted in 12 EU member states last year (3). The study highlighted dogs and cats trade represents an annual revenue estimated at 1.3 billion euros. In particular, the import of dogs is estimated at approximately 21 million euros (2014) and cats at 3 million euros (2014). The most surprising fact is that only 13% of purchased companion animals come from professional breeders. Dr Gavinelli emphasized that several European countries, such as Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary or Spain even have no legal definition of breeder.
All the speakers have underlined the lack of traceability of dogs and cats in the EU, resulting in irresponsible commercial practices and animal suffering, especially with the booming of the online trade of companion animals. The EU Commission itself recognized that there was inconsistency in the data registered in the TRACES system related to dog and cat movement, proving the fraud and the black market in this area.
Identification and Registration of all dogs and cats were pointed out by most of the speakers as the only sustainable solution to put an end to the companion animal suffering exposed during this conference by both animal welfare organisations and veterinary services. MEP Janusz Wojciechowski also suggested to subsidise the protection of dogs and cats, which would only require about 0.01% of the total EU budget. He also suggested to promote the adoption of dogs as well as to introduce mandatory sterilization of companion animals in order to minimize the problem of stray animals and the dissemination of zoonoses.
The conclusion of this conference were hold by a representant of the future Dutch presidency of the EU who estimated that in order to protect companion animals better, the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, the stakeholders, the NGOs, the EU Member States and the animal welfare organizations need to work together.
Since 2010, VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS is calling for a EU mandatory identification and registration of all dogs and cats in Europe through compatible databases to reach the goal of responsible ownership, in line with Art. 13 TFEU. In particular, VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS, together with the EU Commission, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise "Giuseppe Caporale" and the Advisory Board on Cat Diseases has established the CAROdog (www.carodog.eu) and CAROcat (www.carocat.eu) projects, as well as an EU Canine and Feline Traceability Experts Group in order to demonstrate the feasibility and necessity of a EU-wide identification and registration system in the frame of EU competences and stakeholders’ interests. Moreover, VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS has already exposed all the suffering resulting from unscrupulous breeding and trade of animals within several video investigation, mainly lead in Eastern European Countries (4). The organization has also raised awareness in 2014 on the online trade of dogs and cats through collaboration with Ebay classified ads Germany and the establishment of the website www.stoppuppytraders.org.
(1) Please find here the CAROmag in PDF format.
(2) FOUR PAWS was also partner of this very first EU Conference on dogs and cats entitled ““Building a Europe that cares for companion animals” (28.10.2013). See http://www.vier-pfoten.eu/conferences/2013/2013-conference-on-the-welfare-of-dogs-and-cats/
(3) The full results should be officially published by the EU Commission before the end of the year
(4) See the Illegal Puppy Trade Report of 2014 here http://www.vier-pfoten.eu/files/EPO/Materials_conf/Puppy_Trade_in_Europe/REPORT_EUROPEAN_PUPPY_TRADE.pdf
Summary of the event
Dr. Andrea Gavinelli (Head of the Animal Welfare Unit from DG Sante, European Commission) presented the outcomes of the EU study conducted in 12 EU member states last year. He highlighted that “in the EU there are 60.8 million dogs and 66.5 million cats, with an annual revenue estimated at 1.3 billion euros. The import of dogs is estimated at approximately 21 million euros (2014) and cats at 3 million euros (2014)”. The most surprising fact is that only 13% of purchased pets come from professional breeders! But how can we manage to solve this increasing problem when there are still several European countries, such as: Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary or Spain, that haven't specified the legal definition of a professional breeder?!
Dr Claudia Veith (Delegate Representative of the Veterinarian Chamber of Baden-Württemberg) recognised that the
non-professional breeders are only generating a profit from selling dogs and cats and they follow the rule to “produce as many litters as possible and to even breed dogs with genetic diseases”. As a result, dogs suffer from chronic illnesses, which require costly medical treatments!
Sophie Duthoit, the EU Legal Research Officer at VIER PFOTEN’s European Policy Office in Brussels, contrasted the large difference in profit-making of the trade of dogs and cats between professional and non-professional breeders. According to data from France, professional breeders spend about 762 euros per puppy, whereas non-professionals spend less than 260 euros, which means that he or she could sell the puppy for much less (about 361 euros instead of 1662 euros). The greatest difference in cost stems from providing medical treatment (vaccination, basic care, qualify food) and fulfilling legal practices (registration and identification, pet passport, breeding certificate and taxes), not to mention breeding costs. For example, in France, the government loses a tremendous amount of income due to the illegal trade of companion animals, estimated at 312 million euros annually.
Eric van Tilburgh (Head of the Animal Welfare Division of the Flemish Government) noted that Belgium has banned the sale of imported dogs/ cats as well as the online listing of authorised breeders.
Reineke Hameleers (Director of Eurogroup for Animals) said that, “In Europe, there is a serious lack of traceability implementation of responsible commercial practices as well as responsible ownership”.
MEP Janusz Wojciechowski suggested to subsidise the protection of dogs and cats, which would only require about 0.01% of the total EU budget. He pointed out that “There are no special regulations for dogs and cats and no legal basis for intervening in this matter”. Some of the possible solutions are to promote the adoption of dogs as well as introduce the sterilization of companion animals in order to minimise the problem of stray animals and the dissemination of zoonoses diseases.
Dr Felix Wildschutz (Council Presidency of Luxembourg) highlighted that there is not a mandatory identification and registration of dogs and cats or an official certificate and trace notification in Luxembourg. He mentioned “the need of the competent authority to inform the competent authority of the country of dispatch about the non-compliance detected”.
The conclusion of the day
Dr. Jouke Knol (Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU) had heard „about the good and bad practices concerning animal welfare, but the conclusion is that many of us cope with the same problems, and generally people care about pets, but in order to protect companion animals we need to work together: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the stakeholders, the NGOs, the EU member states and the animal welfare organizations. We should exchange ideas about the best trading practices and encourage responsible breeding”.
Agenda of the Event
About VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS
VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS is an Austrian-based international animal welfare organisation with offices in ten European countries, South Africa, the USA and Australia. FOUR PAWS was founded in 1988 in Austria, and in 2003 the organisation became FOUR PAWS International. Since 2007, FOUR PAWS has had a European Policy Office in Brussels which aims to strengthen animal welfare at the European level by influencing European policies and the legal framework. With the aim of consolidating the consideration of companion animals and the responsible ownership principle in EU policies, in 2010 the office created the CAROdog platform (“Companion Animal Responsible Ownership”), followed in 2013 by the CAROcat platform, and has established the EU Traceability Experts Group. With its European Policy Office, VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS has a long standing experience in consultancy on Animal Welfare in Brussels. The main goal is to improve the consideration and the protection of farm animals, wild animals and companion animals at EU level to reach at least responsible ownership through better legislation, but also better enforcement.
VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS, European Policy Office
Av. de la Renaissance 19/11, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
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Websites: www.vier-pfoten.eu; www.carodog.eu; www.carocat.eu; www.lawyersforanimalprotection.eu