Denmark at the forefront of European efforts to combat pet smuggling

Vast profits are being made by unscrupulous people illegally transporting pets across borders within the EU

Along with Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, Denmark is in the vanguard of a new campaign to put a stop to the illegal pet trade.

The five countries have made a declaration of intent in advance of a meeting today of the EU platform for animal welfare.

READ ALSO: Denmark pushing animal welfare agenda in the EU

The move has been welcomed by Britta Riis, the head of the Danish animal rights organisation Dyrenes Beskyttelse.

“The problem is acute and is not something that can just be solved in the individual countries. We need a joint European solution,” said Riis.

It’s a dog’s life
As well as being extremely profitable for the criminals involved, great suffering is caused to the unfortunate animals bred and transported in this way, and the scale is enormous.

The number of dogs and cats alone being transported amounts to an estimated 46,000 per month across the different EU borders. The animal rights group Eurogroup for Animals estimates that it comes next after arms trading and drugs when it comes to the amount of money that can be made illegally.

At the moment there are no adequate transnational laws in the EU that could stop this trade. There is no common registration system, so the dog passport system does not work.

“Unfortunately, there are people who only think in terms of hard cash and are indifferent to the well-being of animals,” said Riis.

“When animals are smuggled across borders, it’s under terrible conditions and there are long travelling times that include a high risk of infection because many of them have not been vaccinated.”

A trans-EU register needed
The hope is that the declaration will result in the establishing of a trans-EU system of pet registration.

“It’s encouraging that a joint approach to the problem has now been put on the agenda, but there must be action behind the fine words. While we’re sitting and talking, a lot of dogs are living under miserable conditions,” added Riis.