Changes to the animal licensing laws
The Government has now published updated legislation for animal businesses and confirmed that these changes will take effect from 1 October 2018. Under the new laws, animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, pet shops and riding establishments will be covered under a single type of licence from that date. It will be known as an 'animal activity licence', with new nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.
We cannot change these conditions as they are already set in the legislation. Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before the licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.
Those businesses operating under current licences will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence. All applications to renew licences will be under the new legislation. New applicants will need to have their licences in place by 1 October 2018.
The new licence conditions for each of the animal activities covered are set out via this link
The application process
Existing licence holders will need to apply for their renewed licences under the new laws 10 weeks before the renewal date. At present, we do not have the required application form as this has not yet been published by DEFRA, but we will send out reminders as soon as we can. Once the application has been received, we will examine the information provided, 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 an extensive risk assessment and 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 new laws 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 premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises 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 customers have any concerns, please contact the Licensing Team prior to making a purchase or making booking arrangements.
Further updates on the law changes will be published as we receive them.