The other day in a conversation I was informed, quite confidently, that it was not a legal requirement to have a Licence for home boarding and Doggy Daycare!
There are many small businesses that provide day care and boarding for pets for a fee that are not registered or licensed by the local council. I like to have all my cards in a row and make sure I am providing a service to the best of my ability, so I hold a licence. But I had my doubts regarding the legality of the service I provide.
Naturally I have done a bit of research to find out.
The short answer is Yes you do need a Licence!
It is Illegal to run an establishment to care for dogs or cats for financial gain without the proper licence in place and it has been for a very long time.
No person may keep a boarding establishment for animals without first obtaining a licence from their Local Authority.
Application for a licence must be made to the Local Authority and a licence may be issued provided the applicant is not disqualified under any of the following Acts:
a) the Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963 b) the Pet Animals Act 1951 c) the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954 d) the Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) (Scotland) Act 1934
Anybody taking a fee to care for your pet in their own premises, Business or otherwise, is operating a boarding establishment and it falls under the Animal Boarding Establishment Act of 1963.
Offences and Penalties
1 (1) No person shall keep a boarding establishment for animals except under the authority of a licence granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
1 (8) Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of an offence; and if any condition subject to which a licence is granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act is contravened or not complied with, the person to whom the licence was granted shall be guilty of an offence.
The following offences and penalties apply to the keeping of animal boarding establishments.
anybody found guilty of keeping an animal boarding establishment without a licence may be subject to a fine not exceeding £500 or to three months imprisonment or both
anybody found guilty of failing to comply with the conditions of their licences may be subject to a fine not exceeding £500 or to three months imprisonment or both
anybody found guilty of obstructing or delaying an inspector, or authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner in the exercising of their powers of entry may be fined up to a maximum of £500
If found guilty under this Act, the defendant's licence may be cancelled and they may be disqualified from keeping an animal boarding establishment for such length of time the court thinks fit.
Why use someone with a licence?
You would not expect a childcare provider not to be Ofsted registered and have procedures in place to protect them while they are in their care.
Home dog boarding is no different and is an amazing alternative to kennels for dogs that would not feel comfortable in that environment. As the service is becoming more popular, more and more small businesses are being set up to make some money out of essentially renting part of their home out to dog owners while they go to work or on holiday, effectively using their home as a kennel.
This type of service clearly needs to be regulated to ensure the welfare of the dogs being cared for, that's were the Animal Boarding Establishment Act of 1963 come in to use.
The license required to provide this service stipulates how many dogs the boarder is allowed to look after on their premises, outlines measures for dogs from different families to be socialised prior to boarding and insures procedures are in place to protect the pets from illnesses and overcrowding.
Licensed boarders are checked by an inspector prior to trading to make sure they fulfill their criteria for caring for animals in their home and checked randomly to ensure the procedures are followed, protecting the animals they care for.
Before being granted a licence the applicant must be able to demonstrate to the Council's licensing inspector:
that the animals will at all times be kept in accommodation suitable in respect of construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperatures, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
that animals will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding materials, adequately exercised, and (so far as is necessary) visited at suitable intervals
that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases, including the provision of adequate isolation facilities
that appropriate measures will be taken to protect the animals in case of fire or other emergency, including the provision of suitable fire fighting equipment
that a register containing a description of any animal received into the establishment, the date of arrival and departure, and the name and address of the owner will be kept, and that the register will be available for inspection at all times by a licensing inspector
a licence may be refused or withheld on other grounds if those grounds are such that conditions were not suitable for the boarding of animals
each licence issued is subject to standard conditions that are imposed on all animal boarding establishments licensed by the Council
in addition to the standard conditions a licence may also contain special conditions that are only applicable to your premises
Are unlicensed service providers Insured?
The unlicensed service provider will say they are!
Anybody setting up a small business can get bog standard liability insurance for a small fee. For pet care providers there are insurance policies that are designed for the sort of business they are running and additional charges are added to reflect the risk factor the business imposes, depending on the sort of service they are providing.
Most (if not all) reputable insurance providers stipulate that the service provider needs to have the relevant licence in place to validate the insurance. This means that the underwriter of the policy will not pay out for a claim if the relevant licence is not in place.
Is it worth the risk?
Here at Jake's Adventures Pet Care I have a good relationship with the licencing authority and hold a Licence for daycare and boarding at my home. Validating my insurance and guaranteeing peace of mind when you leave you fury family member with me.
All Boarding establishments will display their licence proudly.
I do wonder though...
Why do people not apply and pay for the licence if they are wanting to run a reputable business caring for other peoples pets, knowing that the licence needs to be in place?
Do they have something to hide?
Do they think they will not be eligible for the licence?
May be their house is not safe enough or they are not able to have the safety procedures in place that are required, so they have been refused?
Do they have permission from the land owner to run a business from the property and planning permission where needed?.
Have they previously been banned for having a licence, but continue to trade anyway?
Do they know they need a Licence? In this case they have not done enough research into the business they trying to build and may not have the relevant safety procedures in place.
Or are they just cutting corners?
Unfortunately there is no guarantee that a licensed provider will fulfill the requirements of the Licence between inspections, but if you, the owner, are up to date with the regulations you may pick up on any discrepancies and you can inform the relevant authority of your concerns.
You can check if your service provider has a licence by looking on your local council website and searching animal boarding licences.
Feel free to leave a comment below.