New bill introduces stricter regulations for pet owners, sellers; registry for animal abusers

Several updates and changes are included in the new pet ownership bill presented at the ministerial cabinet meeting on Wednesday by Alternate Interior Minister Stelios Petsas.

The leading change is the new digital health book for all pets, which will include a full medical history and will be accessible by both owners and veterinarian doctors.

Another key piece of legislation is a ban on cat and dog sales at pet shops, as is a ban on mating advertorials: the fine for publishing a mating ad will be more than tripled when not referencing the pet’s unique ID microchip number and the new reproduction license. The sale of pets will only be allowed by approved breeders and owners. Pet adoption fees will be forbidden, except for transportation and medical treatment costs.

New rules are introduced for breeding as well: owners will be licensed for one litter per pet, while prospective owners of offspring will have to be officially registered. Neutering will become mandatory for all owners, with some medical exceptions. Approved licensed breeders will be fined 2,000 euros if they mate a single animal more than six times. Amateur (so-called ‘back yard’) breeders will also be subjected to several new restrictive rules.

Pet abuse will carry stricter fines too and will now include acts such as abandonment, shooting, intentional injury and poisoning. Existing fines for serious administrative offenses are also being tightened as per the new bill.

Finally, a new National Pet Registry will be introduced, where all pets owned or stray will have to be registered, including pets put up for adoption. Animal welfare associations, vets, breeders and animal shelters will all have to register too.

Records of people who have been sentenced for torturing animals will be entered into a database managed by the Athens prosecutor’s office and be cross-referenced with the Pet Registry so that they may not register as pet owners in the future.

In order to encourage owners to take better care of their pets, the bill introduces incentives by municipalities, such as a reduction in city taxes by up to 10 percent.