Hangover when buying pets online: How to identify the illegal pet trade in the EU

European Consumer Center Germany

Just order a cute puppy online? Like almost anything else, you can also buy animals online. The anonymity of the Internet supports the illegal trade in animals. Even if animal welfare and animal protection are a high priority in the European Union, regulations for buying animals online vary widely in member states. The European Consumer Center Germany explains how to identify the illegal animal trade and what animal sales regulations look like in some European countries.

The illegal pet trade in the European Union

Pictures of cute floppy ears and floppy eyes are meant to encourage purchase: the illegal online trade in animals is booming. Animals are traded between member states across the European Union. Four-legged friends are often separated from their mothers very early, raised in hostile conditions for animal welfare and then transported across the continent. Often without adequate food and water. Even before they reach their new home, four-legged friends are weak or even sick.

How can I identify the illegal pet trade?

Dogs and cats brought into another Member State must be identified by microchip or tattoo and have a rabies vaccination. Both must be in the EU pet passport. An official health certificate is also required. In the case of serious offers, the EU animal transport regulations are also taken into account. If the salesperson cannot or does not wish to comply with these requirements, customers should prick their ears.

If animals are shown online at dumping prices, then it can be assumed that profit is more important than the well-being of four-legged friends. However, now questionable dealers often charge the same fees as reputable breeders. “In any case, you should never pay for an animal before you actually get it,” advises Julia Creedel, a lawyer at the European Consumer Center Germany (EVZ).

This is especially true of the alleged additional costs. It is often said that money is necessary for transportation, feeding, or insurance. In fact, it is the so-called advance fee fraud. Victims are urged to pay up front. However, in these cases, customers are waiting in vain for the long-awaited pet. And the money is gone.

Anyone who suspects that they have been a victim of the illegal animal trade should report this to the police immediately.

What applies to online animal purchases in other EU countries?

Even if it’s not a case of fraud, buyers should be aware that buying animals online is not allowed everywhere in the EU.

France, for example, has strict regulations for animal protection reasons: only fanciers and pet shops are allowed to sell animals online. Before concluding the contract, buyers must also be explicitly informed that the purchase of an animal should be well considered, since one has a long-term responsibility for an organism.

Even Poland is going one step further. Here it is strictly forbidden to buy or sell dogs and cats outside the place of their breeding. Pure communication can be done online, but online sales are prohibited.

In most other EU countries, just as in Germany, buying or selling animals online is not prohibited as it is less regulated. If the animals are sold commercially, official approval is required. However, there are no special rules that apply to sales between individuals.

However, there are some online marketplaces that voluntarily prohibit the sale of animals in their terms and conditions.

In Austria, individuals can also submit individual animals, but only under certain conditions. For example, dogs must have been registered in the Pet Database for at least 16 weeks.

The European Consumer Center (EVZ) Germany offers help

Before purchasing animals online in other EU countries, consumers should be aware that different regulations may apply. The law applicable in each case and the consequences thereof for the concluded purchase contract can only be clarified on a case-by-case basis.

If you have problems with a commercial animal dealer from another EU country, Iceland, Norway or the UK, you can contact European Consumer Center Germany heart *turn* face.

More information on the topicsIllegal pet trade onlineand for Warranty when buying an animalIt can be found on our website.

Julia Creedel, an attorney at EVZ Germany, will be happy to answer any interview requests you may have. Mail: kreidel@cec-zev.eu / Tel.: 07851/991 48 37


Europäisches Verbraucherzentrum Deutschland
c / o Zentrums für Europäischen Verbraucherschutz e. V.
Bahnhofsplatz 3, 77694 Kehl
T +49 (0) 78 51.991 48-50 | F +49 (0) 78 51.991 48-11 
 info@cec-zev.eu |  www.cec-zev.eu

This press release was funded with funds from the European Union. The content reflects the view of the European Consumer Center Germany and is also responsible for it. It cannot be assumed that this newsletter reflects the views of the European Commission and/or the European Innovation Council, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EISMEA) or any other body of the European Union.

Neither the European Commission nor EISMEA accepts any responsibility for any use that may be made of this press release.

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