The European Parliament’s Public Health Committee on July 10 tabled a series of measures to help European Union member states tackle illegal trade in pets – often by cross-border criminal networks.

According to the committee, identifying and registering cats and dogs is a crucial and necessary step in combating their illegal breeding and trade, often in terrible conditions. The MEPs also stressed that much of this illegal trade crosses borders and hence that good cooperation between EU countries is urgently needed to break up criminal networks.

The Committee called on Brussels to ensure that the national databases used to identify and register cats and dogs are mutually compatible, and linked through an EU platform. The MEPs also called for an EU definition of large-scale commercial breeding facilities also known as puppy and kitten farms, to tackle illegal trade.

Currently, breeders’ animal welfare standards differ widely between member states.