EU envoys pave way for first ever EU-wide law on welfare of cats and dogs

European Union member states’ EU ambassadors have agreed on the Council of the EU’s negotiating mandate on a proposal to improve the welfare of cats and dogs by setting minimum EU-wide rules for the first time ever, a statement by the Council of the EU said.

Current EU legislation only applies to cats and dogs intended for scientific purposes or transported for commercial purposes or to prevent the spread of rabies and other contagious diseases.

Member states’ national rules vary greatly. The proposal aims to ensure minimum harmonised rules throughout the EU and create a level-playing field for all operators.

The proposal aims to improve the welfare of cats and dogs that are kept by breeders, selling establishments, and shelters, while also improving consumer protection, ensuring fair competition and fighting illegal trade, the statement said.

The proposal does not impact individual pet owners. However, anyone who wants to place a cat or a dog on the EU market will have to ensure that it is microchipped for traceability purposes.

The requirements in the proposal are intended as minimum standards to harmonise the EU market. If they wish, EU member states are allowed to maintain or introduce stricter rules.

The Council’s negotiating position maintains the main welfare principles proposed by the European Commission.

These include that breeding is regulated, with limits on frequency, and minimum and maximum age

The Council has also kept provisions regarding the obligations of operators and establishments.

These include that all cats and dogs must be microchipped and registered in a national database before they are sold or donated; all databases will be interoperable with the databases in other EU countries and will be accessible online.

The statement said that the Council’s negotiating mandate makes a series of improvements to the proposal to enhance the welfare of cats and dogs.

These include that it clarifies that operators must not abandon cats or dogs.

In line with the Commission’s proposal, imports will be subject to the same or equivalent standards. This will enhance consumer protection and ensure the traceability of cats and dogs.

The Council’s mandate differentiates between the import of cats and dogs for placing on the EU market and for non-commercial movements, aiming to prevent fraud and improve the traceability of dogs and cats.

For the former, the cat or dog will have to be registered in an EU database five working days after they enter the EU. In the initial proposal this was within 48 hours after arrival at their destination.

For the latter, the Council proposes the creation of a pet travellers’ database. This will allow member states to have an overview of non-commercial imports into the EU and thus be able to detect suspicious movements.

Negotiations between the Council of the EU presidency and the European Parliament will start once the Parliament has agreed on its position. The outcome of the negotiations will determine the final shape of the legislation.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

Please support The Sofia Globe’s independent journalism by becoming a subscriber to our page on Patreon:

Become a Patron!

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.