Second Eurobarometer on Animal Welfare


FOUR PAWS urges the Commission to listen to the European citizens concerns on Animal Welfare

A new Eurobarometer[1] on the Attitudes of EU citizens towards Animal Welfare (Eurobarometer 442) has been published by the EU Commission. This is the second special EU survey on this matter of particular importance for the European citizens since March 2007. The main goal of the Eurobarometer is to assess among European citizens how much Animal Welfare matters in their daily life. 

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MEPs vote in favour for the introduction of mandatory identification and registration of dogs and cats in Europe

FOUR PAWS welcomes this important step towards greater traceability of companion animals in Europe

Today, by a clear majority, a Joint Motion for a Resolution on the introduction of compatible systems for the registration of pet animals across Member States has been voted by the EU Parliament, during its Brussels plenary session.

Continue reading MEPs vote in favour for the introduction of mandatory identification and registration of dogs and cats in Europe


2nd EU Conference on the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices

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 ( and CAROcat ( 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

(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

(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

Summary of the event

20151112_163243 1Dr. 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.

20151112_123904 1Eric 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”.


received_10207428922176697MEP 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



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.

Contact information:

VIER PFOTEN/ FOUR PAWS, European Policy Office

Av. de la Renaissance 19/11, 1000 Brussels, Belgium


Phone: 0032-2-7400888



15.11.2013 The Network will be presented during the EU Animal Health Advisory Board

On 15th November 2013 will take place the next Animal Health Advisory Board, organised by DG SANCO of the European Commission. Dr Wartenberg, Director of the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN and at the origin of the Network will present our Enforcement Website to the stakeholders.

Agenda and more information: 


Successful official Launch of the Website !

Official Press release from VIER PFOTEN / FOUR PAWS, European Policy Office:

Brussels, 22 January 2013,

On 22 January 2013, the new website for improving enforcement of European Animal Welfare legislation has been officially launched by the European Policy Office of the International Animal Welfare Organisation„VIER PFOTEN Stiftung für Tierschutz / FOUR PAWS“. The website, created with the partnership of Stiftung für das Tier im Recht, Deutsche juristische Gesellschaft für Tierschutzrecht (DJGT), and the Research Group ADS/ALS of the Universitat Autόnoma de Barcelona (UAB) is a platform for the exchange of legal facts and knowledge as well as practical political experience related to animal welfare enforcement structures and tools in the Member States. Target groups are Animal Welfare lawyers, Animal Welfare Commissioners, Animal Welfare Ombudspersons, Veterinarians, Politicians, Animal Welfare Organisations.


Thanks to this user friendly website, with few clicks the user will be able to access to identified EU animal welfare legislation enforcement challenges as well to the level of enforcement of the Member States.

The map on the first page also permits to discover already existing national specific animal welfare political and juridical enforcement tools in the 27 Member States, but also in acceding Countries.

Of course, the website also offers an access to all EU legislation and policies but also to non legislative enforcement related information such as EU Parliament written questions or official enforcement reports. National Animal Welfare legislation are also accessible.

Last but not the least, in its “services” category, the website permit to students or job seekers to find an animal welfare legal course or even an internship or a job in the Animal Welfare area. The same category will be in the future enriched with a legal animal welfare glossary and helpful links.


Marlene Wartenberg, Director of EPO, stated “The website has been welcomed as a very good practical and educational tool, by representatives of the Cabinet and of the Animal Welfare Unit of the EU Commission, DG SANCO, by members of National Permanent Representations as well by NGOs. This is an encouraging start”. 


The Enforcement Network Website is now available at:


This website is one of the tools of the European Enforcement Network created on 13th June 2012, as an outcome of the EU Conference "Enforcement of Animal Welfare related Legislation", organised by VIER PFOTEN / FOUR PAWS European Policy Office and Eurogroup for Animals. The conclusion of this conference has underlined the lack of uniform and coherent enforcement of EU legislation. Taking this in consideration, the Network has been created by VIER PFOTEN with the overall goal to develop a sustainable “culture of enforcement” in advantage of the animals.


The Network already counts more than twenty members, all animal welfare lawyers or practitioners working for animal welfare legislation.

The website is entirely open to public, but full membership of the Network is limited to Animal Welfare Lawyers and Animal Welfare Commissioners who a) have a proven qualification by studies or by professional experience in the Animal Welfare area and b) who will be prepared to work actively to elaborate with us in working groups e.g. criteria for the future EU Enforcement Strategy. However, an observer membership is also open to persons working for animal welfare law without being educated animal welfare lawyers, and to veterinarians.