Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, many puppies have been reared in Eastern Europe for illegal sale in Western Europe with little regard for their well-being.
This has resulted in multiple breaches of the law since reproductive females are bred intensively with no basic care and in unhygienic conditions. The puppies are sold unweaned, leading to behavioural disorders and a sense of abandonment. It is also easier for diseases, including Carre disease and rabies, to be passed on.
In addition, the puppies are not properly vaccinated – their passports and health certificates are falsified precisely in order to conceal their actual age and the fact that they have not been vaccinated. They are transported in poor conditions where there is a lack of space and disease is rife. As a result of the conditions in which they are bred and transported, many puppies die, while those who survive often carry disease.
These abuses promote unfair competition by allowing puppies to be sold at rock-bottom prices at the expense of those farmers who do comply with the rules.
On 06 October 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Annika Bruna, Virginie Joron and Aurelia Beigneux of the Identity and Democracy Group, tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
The MEPs asked the Commission “in order to stop this trafficking, does it intend to protect animal passports and vaccination certificates by increasing efforts against the falsification of these documents?”
On 26 November, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission. She answered that “in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 576/2013, which will remain applicable until April 2026, passports issued for pet animals must meet the requirements laid down in Part 2 of Annex III to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 577/2013, including the security features”.
Commissioner Kyriakides explained that “the Commission is aware of non-compliances with Directive 92/65/EEC governing trade in and imports from third countries of dogs and abuse of the conditions for non-commercial movements of pet dogs laid down in Regulation (EU) 576/2013” and “this legal framework has been strengthened with Regulation (EU) 2016/429 and its supplementing legislation with the compulsory registration of establishments for breeding of dogs and with the obligation for approval of shelters and assembly centres from which dogs can be moved to the other Member States”.
“This legislation will apply from 21 April 2021 and will, in conjunction with the regulation on Official Controls, support Member States in their efforts to perform better controls on movements of dogs, which is their responsibility” added Commissioner Kyriakides. Also, she underlined that “to support national investigations, Member States agreed to set up a network of national contact points aimed at exchanging between Member States information on cases of non-compliances through the administrative assistance and cooperation mechanism”.
In her ending, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides declared that “this mechanism enables competent authorities to share information, detect, investigate and take effective and proportionate action to pursue cross-border violations of Union agri-food chain legislation, including in cases where potential fraudulent or deceptive practices have or could have a cross-border dimension” and “the Commission will continue to follow the situation”.
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