Animal Establishment Licensing

Posted by Gudrun on 20/09/2018

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 are new regulations that will license a number of activities involving animals. These new regulations will come into force in October 2018 and cover the following areas:


  • Selling animals as pets
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition
  • Dog breeding
  • Hiring of horses
  • Boarding of cats and dogs including home boarding and day care


The general conditions that must be satisfied for obtaining a licence are centred around the five welfare needs that are defined in the Animal Welfare Act (2006).


On top of the general conditions the regulations also introduce updated practices for each of the activities which are found in the Schedules. The updated practices were drafted in collaboration with a number of organisations including welfare organisations and the British Veterinary Association and are a positive tool for improving the welfare of animals involved. 


The two that are most likely to be of interest to clients in veterinary practices are the reforms around dog breeding and the selling of animals as pets. In order to promote responsible purchasing of pets it is important that as vets we can educate our clients on these new regulations and help them to purchase within them. 


Selling animals as pets


Under the new regulations any advertisement for the sale of an animal must:


  • Include the licence number 
  • State the local authority that issued the licence
  • Have a photo of the animal that is recognisable
  • State the age of the animal (except for fish)
  • State the country of origin of the animal
  • State the country of residence 

One very important onus on the seller is to provide the new owner with appropriate education about the animal and how to meet its welfare needs including the need for veterinary care. When we know that many purchases of animals are impulse purchases with very little research done this goes some way to helping prospective owners consider the needs of the animals that they are purchasing.


Dog breeding


The main points in this section for obtaining a licence are:


  • Selling puppies under 8 weeks will be prohibited
  • A licence is required for anyone breeding 3 or more litters (previously this was set at 5) and selling a puppy within 12 months
  • Anybody whose “business” is breeding and selling will still require a licence irrespective of how many litters they breed in 12 months.
  • A responsibility on breeders “not to breed from any dog if it can be reasonably expected, on the basis of its genotype, phenotype or state of health, that breeding from it could have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or the health and welfare of its off spring” 
  • Puppies must be shown with their biological mother
  • The breeding facility must have adequate provisions for socialisation
  • A bitch that has had two or more caesareans must not be bred from