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Food Safety

Online sales of dogs and cats

Charity aid for a dog shelter in Romania after Brexit

The online sale of dogs and cats is a growing market. This raises several challenges for the EU countries in terms of physical control and also in terms of compliance with legislative provisions involving animal health, trade, import and animal welfare rules.

In 2018, the Commission put forward a recommendation on an EU Coordinated Control Plan (CCP) on online sales of dogs and cats. The aim was to help EU countries gain insight into current and possible fraudulent practices. It also highlighted the fact that online sales are subject to official controls.

In this context, the Commission invited the EU countries, on a voluntary basis, to perform a check of online sales of dogs and cats over a four-month period. From 15 October 2018 to 15 February 2019 (extended to 30 April 2019), 17 Member States (plus Switzerland) analysed, controlled and notified websites suspected of non-compliance with EU or national legislation. They checked hundreds of online advertisements proposing dogs and cats for sale and performed inspections in more than half of the cases.

Results of the Coordinated Control Plan

National authorities issued 315 notifications, 90% of which concerned local traders. However, in some cases, traders were located in other EU countries or non-EU countries such as Belarus, Serbia or Russia.

Most of the advertisements checked were about dogs (87%), and lacked information about both the animals and the traders. Although this was not mandatory, in about 54% of the cases the authorities planned or performed inspections. Following those controls, the authorities observed:

  • animals too young or unhealthy
  • pets not vaccinated nor treated
  • pets with fake ID
  • illegal transport of animals to neighbouring countries

Regarding the issues to check and control the market, these were the main observations:

  • large number of websites
  • legal difficulties for inspectors to access private houses
  • missing requirements to give contact details in the ads
  • lack of information on animals’ locations

The CCP allowed EU countries to be more engaged in the control of the e-commerce pet market and to cooperate more closely with other EU countries’ authorities on non-compliant cross-border offers. The participant countries also proposed potential solutions for a safer market such as:

  • educational materials for citizens
  • guidelines with mandatory requirements for websites
  • quality chart on pet ads

Detailed analysis of the main outcome
Results in tables


In 2015, the Commission published a Study report (Summary), which identified the need for Member States to enforce EU and national legislation in this field.