|EU plans to take action on puppy smuggling
The European Union is planning to take action on puppy smuggling and the online sales of dogs.
At a meeting in the Netherlands of the EU Animal Welfare Platform they put together a working plan to identify effective solutions to the smuggling of dogs across the European Union.
Often smugglers disguise the fact they are moving dogs to be sold by saying that they are the owners of the dogs, but do in fact plan to sell them.
One of the biggest problems the authorities face is that there is not adequate implementation and enforcement of the laws that are currently in place.
A possible solution to the problem that was suggested was that there should be improved registration and identification systems put into practice.
In England and Wales the campaign for Lucy's Law, a ban on third-party puppy sales, has gained pace and could become law soon. This is seen as a more effective way to deal with puppy farmers and puppy smugglers than licensing.
An initiative to stop the illegal online sale of dogs was also put forward and in order to assess the size of the problem a Coordinated Control Plan (CCP) was put forward by Stanislav Ralchev, Administrator at the EU Animal Health and Food Safety Directorate.
A CCP was successful in establishing the prevalence of hazards in foods it was suggested that a plan is used to look into online sales of dogs. For instance, a plan to examine the fraudulent practice of marketing foods helped to expose the horse meat scandal.
In Europe the Wallonia region of Belgium is the only place in Europe where the advertising of animals is banned online. Only in the UK and Ireland are there voluntary standards that online advertisers adhere to, which can result in advertisers being banned. However, very few websites actually sign up to these regulations.
The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) have been active in the UK since 2001 to combat irresponsible advertising of dogs for sale and they have worked with classified websites to oversee the removal of hundreds of thousands illegal and unethical adverts.
There is support amongst member states to launch a CCP on this issue to establish what action can be taken on the online sales of dogs.
It is hoped that the plan will strengthen cooperation and administrative assistance between members states, help them gain insight into misleading or fraudulent practices as well as the volume of dogs sold via the Internet. They also want it to raise awareness about the size of the problem and build know-how for law enforcement agencies.
Participation in the CCP is voluntary and it is unclear which countries will take part. Authorities are encouraged just to search for sites offering dogs and cats and it will only take place for a defined time period.
If all member states take part there could be clear legal action by the EU on online sales of dogs and effective control of these sales that are at the moment effectively unregulated.
The UK has some of the strongest Animal Welfare regulations in the Europe whilst there are a number of countries where they are less stringent. In a number of countries, for instance, there are no laws that state there should be a minimum age to sell a dog.
It is hoped by the EU, 'that a synergy between these initiatives will allow for a great advancement in the fight against the illegal trade in dogs.'
Whilst the UK is leaving the EU it is expected that there will be a two year transition period whereby the country will still have to abide by European Union laws.