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


China: a giant farm for cloning domestic animals including companion animals

Next year, at 150km from Bei Jing in China, a giant "cloning farm" will be created, aiming to clone domestic animals including farm animals such as cows, but also police dogs and race horses. The goal would be to produce more than 1 million of cloned cows, to solve the problem of lack of farmlands in China. 

Cloning is currently prohibited in Europe, but despite the EU Parliament willing to stop imports of food product coming from cloned animals, it is still allowed for Member States to import such products after getting an authorisation. But EU legislation might change soon.

More on


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



France : A new law to limit private breeding of dogs and cats and Internet trade of these animals

On 7 October 2015, a French ordinance “related to the trade and protection of companion animals” has been published. It aims to limit the uncontrolled private/non-professional breeding of dogs and cats and the resulting trade, most of the time done through online classified ads.

Up to now, the French law provided that private people were allowed to breed dogs and cats without respecting any requirements or paying any tax, as long as they do not sell more than two litters a year. In practice, enforcement of this law proved to be impossible[1], resulting in unfair competition to license/ professional breeders and uncontrolled online market. Therefore the new law aims to revaluate the status of breeder and make the dog and cat market more secure and controllable. With the new law, up from 2016, anybody who wants to sell one dog or cat will have to be declared at the Tax Services, and get a unique tax number (called SIREN). This number will have to be written in all classified ads for selling dogs and cats and online platforms will have to create checking systems to check the validity of the SIREN number. Moreover, potential buyers will be able to check themselves the validity of this tax number and will have access to the data of the seller (like his complete name and his postal adress)[2]. This is an encouraging first step for a better traceability of the online sellers and therefore for better protection of the buyers.

In addition, the ordinance also sets some new requirements aiming to improve the welfare of companion animals involved in commercial practices. Among others, there will be stricter requirements regarding the training of dog breeders or shelter staff. Before that, only the sale of dogs and cats of less than 8 weeks were prohibited. Now it also applies to free-gift of dogs and cats. Moreover, in case of free-gift of the animals, the ad will have to precise explicitely that no monney will be asked, in order to avoid SCAMs.

Another good progress for animal welfare brought by this law concerns confiscation of abused animals. Now, the Courts have to decide during a trial for mistreatment if the animal will be given to a charity. Up to now, it was necessary to make a second legal complaint after the condemnation of the owner to take the animals away and give them to a charity.

Finally, the ordinance also aims to protect companion animals other than dogs and cats. The trade of these animals in non-specialised markets and fairs will be prohibited as well as the “self-service” trade of these animals.

A big step forward has been probably reached with this new Law. Force private individuals to be declared to the tax authorities will probably limit the temptation to breed and sell animals, which was done until now in an unresponsible way. However, enforcement might stay complex as it is easy to use the SIREN number of somebody else. 

Limit private breeding and consequently online trade of animals is a major concern in Europe. As an example, Belgium has adopted last year stricter rules regarding private breeding of cats, making mandatory sterilization of any cat sold or given for free.

The provisions of the French ordinance will get into force on January 1 2016.



[1] It appeared that it is impossible to check how much litters private people are selling as the trade happens often privately via classified ads


[2] A small derogation is planned only for non professional breeders selling animals registered in the French Book of Origins (called LOF). These sellers will not need a SIREN number when they sell less than 1 litter a year but they will have to register each of the animals produced in the book of origin, even the ones not fitting with the breed standards



Removing the Blinkers: The health and welfare of European equidae in 2015

The Report has been done by Eurogroup for animals and World Horse Welfare. Among other recommendations it calls for species specific legislation to protect horses, donkeys and mules who so often fall between the cracks between legislation designed for farm or companion animals.

Read the report:


Success for FOUR PAWS Wild? Me? Campaign: EU recognises that homeless cats and dogs are not wild

A major step forward for strays and companion animals in Europe has been reached within the last draft of the Animal Health Law

Brussels, 02.06.2015. Since the first draft of the Animal Health Law, the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has warned of the misuse of the term “wild” when referring to stray animals and the legal consequences. Monday evening, MEP Marit Paulsen (SW, ALDE), European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Animal Health Law, now renamed “European law on Transmissible Animal Diseases”, and EU Commissioner Andriukaitis presented the outcome of the agreement between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. Even if the “wild” and “kept” definition will stay, a clause has been added, stating that stray animals are not wild animals, and that the critical definition of wild animals, as given by this description, will apply only to this law.

The new regulation will replace and encompass most of the present EU legislation on animal health. It distinguishes between those animals which are kept as pets and those which are stray without an owner kept, attributing homeless cats and dogs a lower level of legal protection than “kept” ones. It was feared that this could lead to legal grounds to kill strays. Now, by inserting the additional clause a compromise solution has been found and the draft explicitly distinguishing strays from the other non-kept animals.

Moreover, the draft includes other improvements for animal welfare: The very first article of the Animal Health Law implements a safeguard clause in cases of stray population management programs, stating not only that these programs have to be performed in a humane way avoiding pain and distress for the animals, but also that they have to be proportionate with the health risk. It is also now required that these programs have to be implemented in a transparent way and have to include stakeholder consultation.

The most progressive initiative implemented by this new law is the mandatory registration of all professional breeders and sellers of animals. “We welcome this initiative which will help to reduce irresponsible breeding, and in turn reduce overpopulation and abandonment of companion animals”, says Pierre Sultana, Director of FOUR PAWS European Policy Office.

Finally, the new law redefines some terms in the transposition of the Pet Passport Regulation to try to reduce the possibilities of the illegal puppy trade under the non-commercial movement scheme.

Despite these improvements, some problems are still unresolved. FOUR PAWS has concerns regarding the proper enforcement of some unclear terms and notions of the law, such as “humane treatment” of animals. “This agreed version of the Animal Health Law does not meet all FOUR PAWS expectations, but it is already a major step forward for strays and companion animals in Europe”, says Sultana. By increasing control and redefining responsibilities, this new law may limit Member States to adopt systematic culling programs of stray animals, which often take place without transparency and prior consultation with stakeholders and NGOs.

According to the Rapporteur, the final Parliamentary vote validating this compromise text should be a simple formality and should occur in November this year.


–> Please downlad here our press release: IPR_Wild Me Update_20150602_EN

–> Please find our "questions and answers" document to help you to understand this new legislation here: AHL questions & answers

–> Please find here the 2 position papers done by the office of MEP Paulsen on the animal welfare/health achievments in the new animal health law, and the achievments regarding stray animals:

​–> Please find here the official Press release of the EU Commission and a EU Commission's Q&A:


Relaunch of the CAROdog and CAROcat websites

Leading EU cat and dog welfare websites launch new design and content

In the EU Member States, many dogs and cats still suffer because of the unsolved and increasing problem of uncontrolled births, which can result in abandonment or severely inadequate living conditions. In addition, cases of mistreatment are widespread, sometimes in organised forms such as dog fighting and puppy mills. As a result, millions of dogs and cats in Europe experience great suffering. Overpopulation has sometimes generated social problems, including those of health and safety.

With the aim of responding to such problems, the CAROdog project ( was launched in 2010, and CAROcat ( followed in February 2013.

The aim of the CAROdog and CAROcat websites is to offer sustainable solutions to help dogs and cats in the EU through the dissemination of reliable and science-based information related to legislative, legal, social and scientific activities for the protection of companion animals in Europe. These websites propose a systematic approach to canine and feline population management to avoid the killing of healthy animals, starting from responsible ownership as the basis of individual and community commitment to dog and cat welfare.

Today in Brussels, a new phase of this work has been presented.

Within the framework of these projects, conferences on dog and cat welfare have already been held in several EU countries. A EU canine and feline traceability working group has been established, addressing the important issue of identification and registration of companion animals.

The initiators of the CAROdog and CAROcat projects are the international animal welfare organisation VIER PFOTEN – founded and based in Austria, with national offices in seven European Member States and with a European Policy Office in Brussels, Belgium – and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise, Teramo, Italy – the OIE Collaborating Centre for veterinary training, epidemiology, food safety and animal welfare. The European Commission and the European Federation of Veterinarians (FVE) are supporting the websites with their expertise and have placed their representatives on the editorial boards. For the CAROcat website, the Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) is an additional partner. Together we are creating a reliable knowledge-based system.

The most evident sign of this new phase of the CAROdog and CAROcat projects is the new architecture and content of the websites, now including a dedicated space for dog and cat owners. The websites are also now more user friendly.

Marlene Wartenberg, Director of VIER PFOTEN’s European Policy Office, said: “The work of the last few years has been very rewarding, both in terms of attention received by the websites in Europe and beyond, and because CAROdog and CAROcat have become an authoritative presence for the protection of companion animals in the European Union. More protection for companion animals is needed in Europe, especially as there are tendencies at the moment to declare stray animals as second-class dogs and cats, with less protection”.

The new CAROdog and CAROcat websites contain information about responsible dog and cat ownership and population management; scientific, legal and practical information; solution strategies; a library; tools, projects and programmes; news and events; and a regularly updated special focus section. The available information is all designed to provide the most transparent and direct access for users.


We hope that old and new visitors to our websites will find the new versions even more interesting and inspiring.


The Websites