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Rocktime Limited: 3781061 in England and Wales.
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Blog Animal welfare boosted by new licensing laws

The latest animal welfare licensing laws were updated towards the end of 2018. These now require businesses to comply with more extensive regulations.

These new regulations mean that any business that directly deals with animal boarding, animal breeding, riding establishments, pet shops and those that train and keep animals for exhibition, are all required to obtain an ‘animal activity licence’. These regulations have expanded greatly from previous requirements.

Businesses operating with existing licences will be able to continue using the licence until it expires, at which point they will be reassessed under new regulations. These new licensing laws will both improve existing animal welfare standards and will relieve the administrative overhead for local authorities, as application processes will be simplified.

These new law will:

  • Ensure that breeders must show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made.
  • Tighten regulations so that puppy sales are completed in the presence of the new owner – preventing online sales where prospective buyers have not seen the animal first.
  • Ban licensed sellers from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of eight weeks.
  • Regulate adverts, including on the internet, by ensuring licensed sellers of all pets include the seller’s licence number, country of origin and country of residence of the pet in any advert for sale.
  • Introduce a new “star rating” for dog breeders, pet shops and others to help people rate them on their animal welfare standards.

These regulations introduce a new system for local authorities to use for the different areas of activity (detailed below), simplifying the licences needed by businesses, ensuring all businesses working with animals are covered and driving up animal welfare standards.

A key part of these new licences will be a new “star rating” (out of five) for dog breeders, pet shops and other licensed activities involving animals. This rates these businesses, on welfare and other grounds, and helps buyers use the best breeders as well as local authorities to more heavily regulate the poorer rated (such as through more welfare inspections, increased costs and shorter licences).

This announcement follows a public consultation which ran from 20 December 2015 to 12 March 2016.

The five areas of licensed activities with animals by businesses are:

  • Selling animals as pets
  • Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats of dogs
  • Hiring out horses
  • Breeding dogs and
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition

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