Changes to the animal licensing laws
The Government introduced updated legislation for animal businesses from 1 October 2018. Under Section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 replace some existing licensing regimes.
Under the law, animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, and pet shops, riding establishments and exhibitors that keep or train animals are now covered under a single type of licence. An ‘animal activity licence’, has nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.
The regulations put in place a licensing regime to control the following “licensable activities”:
- Selling animals as pets
- Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
- Hiring out horses
- Breeding dogs
- Keeping or training animals for exhibition
The regulations came into effect on 1 October 2018 and the following legislation was replaced:
- Pet Animals Act 1951
- Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
- Riding Establishments Act 1964 & 1970
- Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 & Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
- Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925
A licence issued under one of the above pieces of legislation that was in force on 1 October 2018, will continue to be valid until it is due to expire. You will then need to apply for a licence under the new regulations.
The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published procedural guidance for local authorities in relation to the regulations, along with guidance notes on the conditions that will apply to licences issued to authorise the different licensable activities. The procedural guidance and other guidance notes can be downloaded below:-
Follow the link for a list of current animal activity licensed premises.
Frequently asked questions
In addition to the guidance from DEFRA, we have produced the following “Frequently asked questions” LINK which you may find useful.
The application process
Existing licence holders will need to apply for their renewed licences 10 weeks before the renewal date. All applicants need to complete;
- a standard application
- a standard declaration
- an application form for their relevant animal activity (please find the forms attached at the bottom of the page).
- in addition to this Dog Breeders also need to complete the Dog Breeders Business Test.
The forms should be returned to our office along with the relevant fee, for details see the Fees and Charges document at the bottom of the page. Once received, we will examine the information provided, and then instruct an officer to arrange an inspection.
All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:
- A specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animals’ mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
- Comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities.
- An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
- Training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.
The premises itself will also be assessed so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the requirements relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.
Based on the information, we will assess the risk rating and award stars. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection.
Premises with lower star ratings
A premise with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premise to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.
If applicants have any concerns, please contact Environmental Health.