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Licensing of Activities Involving Animals

Changes to animal licensing laws have been released to provide a single license for a number of existing regimes. The license includes animal boarding such as in your home, day care, and in kennels, breeding dogs, selling animals as pets, hiring out horses for riding, and performing animals.

In October 2018, the government published the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

Animal Boarding and Dog Day Care

If you are considering or are already boarding cats or dogs, it is essential for you to possess the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 license. The license includes providing day care for dogs, boarding cats and dogs in your own home, or in kennels.

Please find information below of the minimum standards you are expected to meet in order to be eligible for the license.

Visit our page dedicated to animal boarding to find details of your local establishments.

Breeding of Dogs

Under the new legislation there have been changes to the breeding of dogs. The new criteria includes the following:

  • Anyone breeding three or more litters, and selling at least one puppy in a 12 month period will require a license.
  • A breeder can breed as many puppies as they without a licence 'if the person carrying out the activity (breeding) provides documentary evidence that none of them have been sold (whether as puppies or as adult dogs)'.
  • If a breeder has one or two litters per 12 months and are selling the puppies, a licence may be required if you are deemed to be advertising as a business.
  • A new star rating has also been introduced to encourage high performing breeding establishments, and to help the public identify good breeders.

To be eligible for a license, it is a requirement that meet the minimum standards set out in the guidance notes.

Selling Animals as Pets

A licence is required to sell animals as pets as part of a business or keeping animals with the view to sell or resell at a later date. This includes:

  • Pet shops.
  • Registered businesses.
  • Business of individuals operating from their homes for commercial premises.
  • Importing animals for distribution and sale.

You must meet the minimum requirements set out in the guidance notes in order to be eligible for a license.

Hiring Out of Horses

A license is needed under the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 if, for business purposes, you intend to:

  • Hire out horses for riding.
  • Hire out horses for riding lessons.

This does not include individuals who lend a horse for a small fee where there is no profit made, or who intend to make no profit.

You must meet a minimum standard conditions in order to be eligible for a license.

Performing Animals

If you are a business and intend to keep animals for exhibition, you will need a license for the following activites:

  • Keeping animals for entertainment or educational purposes, including mobile animal exhibits that may visit schools, weddings, private parties, fairs and other events where an audience is present.
  • Pony parties where the ponies are not ridden.
  • Keeping animals for exhibition for electronic media, such as being used in films or TV.
  • Businesses that train animals either for an audience or electronic media.
  • Exhibiting domestic animals in a circus.
  • If a business is based outside of England and imports an animal for exhibition, then they must apply for a license to the first authority in which they will be performing or where the animals will be kept for the duration of their stay.

If you are exhibiting an animal you must ensure you hold a valid license and keep to the minimum standards set out in the guidance notes. 

It introduces a new licensing regime to replace the following licensing and registration systems:

  • Pet Animals Act 1951
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.
  • Riding Establishments Acts 1964 & 1970.
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 & Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.
  • Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925.

All current licenses will continue to be subject to the same restrictions under this legislation.

FAQ's

Who can apply?

If you are considered to be the owner of your business, you can apply for a license providing:

  • You can demonstrate that you fit and able to carry out the licensable activity while meeting the minimum requirements.
  • Have not been disqualified from holding a license under Regulation 11 (persons who may not apply for a licence) or Schedule 8.

How long is the application process?

We will endeavor to process your application within 10 weeks of receiving it. However, the process may take longer if there is insufficient information or if it proves difficult to make arrangements for the inspection. 

What happens to my current License?

All current licenses will continue to be subject to the same restrictions until their expiry date, or until 31st December, whichever is sooner. However the current animal exhibition registrations will continue to be valid until 1st April 2019, and riding establishment s which have unique expiry dates.

How long will my license last?

Licenses can be issued for a period of one, 2 or 3 years dependent on your star rating and compliance. For example, if an existing operator wants to renew their license, the length of their license will be determined by their risk rating and standard. If a new applicant is successful, they will automatically be considered as high risk due to lack of history.

Scoring Matrix Minor Failings (existing business that are failing to meet minimum standards) Minimum Standards (as laid down in the schedules and guidance) Higher Standards (as laid down in the guidance)
Low Risk

1 Star

1yr licence Min 1 unannounced visit within 12 month period

3 Star

2yr licence Min 1 unannounced visit within 24 month period

5 Star

3yr licence Min 1 unannounced visit within 36 month period

Higher Risk

1 Star

1yr licence Min 1 unannounced visit within 12 month period

2 Star

1yr licence Min 1 unannounced visit within 12 month period

4 Star

2yr licence Min 1 unannounced visit within 24

How do I renew my license?

Please fill in the application form and send it back to us.

We will notify you 3 months prior to your expiry that you need to renew. You must then apply at least 10 weeks prior to your current license expiry if you wish to continue to operate without a break.

Please note, you will also receive an inspection in order to grant you license and rating.

Can I appeal my application, star rating or suspension?

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your your application, star rating, or have been suspended from your license you can appeal to a First-tier Tribunal within 28 days of the decision who shall either overturn or agree the local authority's outcome.

Complaints Proceedure

We will investigate complaints of poor animal welfare or conditions in a commercial business within the Dudley Borough. If you have a general concern about the welfare of an animal, and want to complain about a business in Dudley Borough, please can use the Animal Welfare Advice and Complaints form.

Alternatively you can report the matter directly to the RSPCA.