On 21 and 22 June, VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), CAROdog, CAROcat and the Representation of the German State of Hessen to the European Union held a two-day conference on Identification, vaccination and movement of dogs and cats in the EU: How to improve the Pet Passport and TRACES systems. The conference also provided an opportunity to present a new report on that topic.
International experts on animal welfare and health, Identification & Registration (I&R) and the movement of pets between countries, together with representatives of the European Parliament, EU Commission and EU Member States, convened to share information on the present situation of I&R across the EU, and to formulate proposals aimed at improving both national and EU legislation.
I was asked to summarise the conclusions of the first day, together with Julie Sanders, Director of Companion Animals for VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS International, and to moderate the Open Discussion on the second day. I had the privilege of witnessing high-quality presentations and a very lively debate.
The speakers emphasised that despite the existence of some useful EU rules aimed at protecting companion animals, both in their country of origin and when travelling to other countries, more needs to be done.
The lack of an EU-wide harmonised system of Identification and Registration (I&R) of companion animals was singled out as a major problem, because it has led to illegal activities connected to the trade in puppies from Eastern Europe. It also undermines efforts to reunite lost animals with their families.
It was also noted that the rules related to the Pet Passport, which was established in the EU in 2012, should be reformed in order to increase its effectiveness. At present, a Pet Passport is only required when travelling abroad; however, it has been suggested that all companion animals should have one from birth, as a lifetime document that replaces national health and vaccination booklets, regardless of their movements.
Specific proposals have also been produced on the characteristics of the transponders used for the identification of companion animals, which presently contain different sets of information in different Member States. Moreover, such information is not accessible through a single European register. This makes it more difficult both to prevent criminal activities and to reunite lost animals with their families.
The European Parliament has repeatedly called for the establishment of a harmonised EU-wide I&R system too, but so far this call has gone unheeded.
The speakers and members of the audience have therefore asked the European Commission to develop specific proposals in order to address these issues.
The conference was linked to the launch of a report entitled “Identification, vaccination and movement of dogs and cats in Europe”, prepared by the European office of VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS, in collaboration with Dr Sven Hüther, Director of Planet ID and ISO expert for Germany.
The conference also provided the opportunity to present the first CARO Award to Mr Jacques Grimanelli, former President of Europetnet, for his pioneering work in the field of traceability of companion animals in Europe.
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