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Animal Welfare Licensing

Ashfield District Council is responsible for the licensing and inspection of Animal Welfare establishments (Pet Shops, Boarding Kennels and Catteries, Home Boarding of Dogs, Doggy Day Care, Dog Breeding, and Riding Establishments) across our District.

Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

From 1st October 2018 the new legislation came into force and replaced the previous legislation applicable to:

  • Pet Shops
  • Kennel / Cattery Boarding of Dogs and Cats
  • Home Boarding of Dogs
  • Breeding of Dogs
  • Riding Establishments

This new legislation is designed to raise standards and promote consistency in Animal Welfare, and to ensure that those who participate in any of the above Trades "where there is a view to make financial gain; or where a commission or fee is taken" are licensed and monitored. 

It will be necessary for all persons involved in the above Trades to keep meticulous records in order either meet with the requirements of the new Act, or to be able to demonstrate that they do not have an intention to make financial gain. The onus is on the individual to prove to the Council that they do not require a licence, not for the Council to prove that he/she does need a licence.

It is expected that many people who previously felt they did not need a licence, will find themselves requiring a licence under the new provisions.

Animal Activity Licence

The Government has now published updated legislation for animal businesses and confirmed that these changes will take effect from 1st 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, and can be granted for periods of 12 months to 3 years.

Those businesses operating under licences issued prior to 1st October 2018 will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date as shown on their licence. All applications to renew licences will be made under the new legislation, and as such deemed to be “new applications”. 

Applications made by businesses from 1st October 2018 for an Animal Activity Licence will need to comply with the mandatory conditions of the new legislation, and will be assessed by way of an inspection before the new licence is granted, in order to ensure that the businesses are compliant with the mandatory conditions. However the Council understands that businesses may need time to comply with the new requirements, and so we will issue the new licences for a period of 12 months to assist licence holders time to carry out the necessary remedial work to meet with the requirements of the new Act, ahead of them renewing their licences later in 2019.

The new licence mandatory conditions for each of the Animal Activities covered are set out below:

The following Guidance Notes provided by DEFRA will assist individuals and businesses as to their responsibilities under the new Act (updated Guidance Notes issued 1st October 2018):

Further online guidance is available to the Trade to assist individuals and businessess transition to the new requirements and the new law:

Fees & Charges

The current licence application fees applicable to the licensing of Animal Welfare Establishments will remain in place whilst the Trade and the Council evaluate the new licensing regime, and this will allow for a smooth transition from the old laws to the new law.

However, where a veterinary surgeon inspection is required, there will be an additional charge to be paid when the licence fee is paid.

Veterinary inspections will be required for new applications made for the Breeding of Dogs, and annually for establishments that Hire out Horses.

The cost for the veterinary inspection for Dog Breeding establishments is £160.00.

The cost for the veterinary inspection of a business that Hire out Horses will be £15.00 per horse + £40.00 to cover other additional costs incured by the Veterinary Surgeon.

The Application Process

Existing licence holders will need to apply for their new licences under the new laws 10 weeks before the renewal date, and we will send out reminders as soon as we can. Naturally, in light of the tight deadlines the new legislation presents, we will be flexible with the timescales for applications being received.

The application forms are provided below:

Once the application has been received, we will examine the information provided, then instruct the Animal Welfare Officer (Environmental Health Officer) to arrange an inspection with you.


All premises will be inspected before a 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 how to provide the best habitat for the animals so that their lives are enriched. 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.