Animal welfare licences
New laws relating to Animal Activity Licensing are now in force. Animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, pet shops, riding establishments and people that keep or train animals for exhibitions will now be covered under a single type of licence (known as an 'animal activity licence'), with new nationally set licence conditions.
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.
The new licence conditions for each of the animal activities covered are set out below:
You can apply by downloading the form below. An online version will be available in the near future.
To help applicants, guidance notes for each of the licensable activities are set out below. These contain further information on what will be required to meet the conditions, a set of which will be included on the granted licence. They also provide advice as to what steps applicants can take to possibly achieve a higher star rating. Once a completed application and payment has been received, we will examine the information provided, then contact applicants to arrange an inspection.
We recommend that applicants check they have the correct permissions to use their property or premises for the business applied for. For example, there are restrictions on running businesses in domestic Council properties. It's important to do this before applying, as the application fee is not refundable. Checks will be carried out by us to ensure all relevant permissions, such as planning consent and housing permissions, are in place at the application stage.
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 application, and the information given to us at the inspection, we will assess the risk rating and award stars using a scoring method created by DEFRA, which is a requirement under the new scheme. 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 are likely to be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered. We would advise that, as stated above, the scoring method is one we must use to comply with Government requirements, and the ratings given should not be seen as a recommendation by the Council.
If customers have any concerns, please contact the Licensing Team prior to making a purchase or making booking arrangements.
Animal Licensing Policy
Our Animal Licensing Policy was agreed in November 2019. It sets out guidance on what existing licence holders and potential applicants need to consider when applying for licences, and what they can expect from us.
Details of the businesses which have been licensed to provide animal-related activities can be found in our public register, which can be viewed below:
Although dog walking doesn’t require an Animal Activity licence, professional dog walkers (and other interested people) may find the Professional Dog Walker's Guide, issued by the Canine and Feline Sector Group, helpful.
Telephone: 01442 228470 / 228860