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Defra consultation on animal establishments licensing – not before time

One month ago, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) closed its consultation on proposed changes to the animal establishment licensing system.

I have been calling for stricter regulation of the growing UK doggy daycare market for some time, so I wholeheartedly supported this and submitted my comments to them as well as discussing the issue live on BBC radio.

Defra is proposing to introduce new secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in the form of a single Animal Establishment Licence for animal boarding organisations, pet shops, riding establishments, and dog breeding.

As managing director of one of the UK’s largest dog daycare businesses, I’ve had to embrace the Home Boarding Licence scheme across numerous different boroughs. It is almost impossible to navigate through the red tape and is prohibitively expensive because there is a huge variance in council policy and expectations. Each individual dog boarder requires a licence, even for just one dog, which is not practical for the home boarder or the local authority implementing it. For example, if a boarder were to board one dog and make £50, they are very unlikely to obtain a licence that can cost them up to £300.

In the last five years, the dog daycare profession has experienced significant growth with sites opening all around the country. With no tailor-made guidelines or standardised licences available, the way they run their businesses and the standards they set in place are left to the discretion of each operator. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in an unacceptable variance in standards. It would be unimaginable for a children’s nursery to operate with no rules or regulations, so why should the ‘dog nursery’ profession be any different?

I welcome Defra’s review and await the summary of their findings and the regulations they propose. It’s not before time, and I very much look forward to seeing more stringent regulation of the UK doggy daycare market.

Further information can be found on the Defra website.