David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

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David Martin MEP calls for further measures to end Europe’s horrific illegal trade in pet animals

Last week, Scottish MEP David Martin joined an impassioned debate in the European Parliament discussing what practical possibilities could be established, at an EU level, to try and combat the illegal cross-border trade in pet animals.

Across Europe millions of animals, mainly cats and dogs, are bred, traded and transported purely for profit without any consideration for the animals’ welfare, or of the implications this might have for the transmission of diseases.

“My first thoughts are of the terrible suffering endured by these poor animals, many of which are bred in horrific conditions then left to die or be abandoned”, said Mr Martin, “but there is also the issue of transmissible diseases which pose risks not only to animals, but to humans too.”

The explosion in this illegal trade has exposed flaws in the European Pet Travel Scheme. Introduced in 2001 and further strengthened in 2013 the scheme is designed to allow the movement of pets, with their owners, for non-commercial purposes. These passports however are being easily forged, often by criminal gangs.

There is also growing concern that owners who have unwittingly bought unhealthy, illegally bred and transported pets may seek treatment with first generation antibiotics, further contributing to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

“Uncertainly about an animal’s age will affect its vaccination status” stressed Mr Martin. “This, as well as the validity of its registration is highlighting the need for a harmonised system of registering pets throughout Europe.”

Later this month the European Parliament will vote on a Resolution asking the Commission to bring forward new, harmonised rules on pet identification and registration in each Member State.

“I hope that steps can be made to end the cruel inhumane illegal trade in pets so these animals, their owners and the general population can be better protected in the future” concluded Mr Martin.

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