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The government has recently published the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 under section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The new regulations came into effect 1 October 2018 and put in place a new licensing regime to control the following licensable activities:

  • Selling animals as pet
  • Providing day care for dogs
  • Providing boarding for cats
  • Providing boarding in kennels for dogs
  • Providing home boarding for dogs
  • Hiring out horses
  • Breeding dogs
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibitions

Apply for Animal Welfare Licence

Guidance Notes

View the guidance notes for the above on the Canine & Feline Sector Group website.

Licence conditions

The conditions which will be attached to licences are in schedules 3 to 7 of the regulations and will depend on the activities.

Riding establishments will be required to have all horses used under the act annually inspected by an inspector and an approved vet appointed by us.

Dog breeders will have to have their premises inspected when applying for a new licence by an inspector and an approved vet appointed by us.


The fees (13KB) for the licences under the new regulations have now been approved.

A report (6.11MB) was submitted to full council outlining how the new activities involving animal fees were calculated (2.25MB).

Exhibiting Animals

From 1 October 2018 animals kept for training and exhibitions in the district will now be licensed by us.

Summary of the changes

The new regulations are to improve and maintain good welfare standards.

One generic, multi-activity licence may be issued which is not date specific. Previous licences were issued annually, now, licences can be issued for one, two or three years.

Greater enforcement options exist, with power for us to now revoke and suspend licences.

Keeping or training animals for exhibitions now needs a licence issued by us, this is currently a registration scheme administered by Devon County Council.

Dog day care and wholesale pet supply now needs to be licenced.

There are also rules to follow when advertising dogs for sale. Any adverts must include the licence holder’s name and licence number and these must be clearly and prominently displayed on any website used to promote the licence holder’s dog breeding activities.

Following guidance from DEFRA, all animal licence holders (excluding keeping or training animals for exhibition) will be inspected and rated between one and five stars. The star rating will determine how many routine inspections the licence holder will receive and how long their licence will be issued for. For example:

• One star premises will be issued with licences for one year. They will be inspected once on application and will receive at least one unannounced inspection within a 12 month period

• Five star premises may be issued with licences for up to three years. They will receive at least one unannounced inspection within a 36 month period All new applicants will only be issued a licence for one year, due to a lack of history.

There are no provisions for licence transfer.

Star rating appeal process - Lodging an appeal

If you are unhappy with the star rating given to your business you have 21 days from the date the star rating is awarded to lodge an appeal (this includes weekends and bank holidays).

This process is relevant where you wish to dispute the star rating given as not reflecting the animal welfare standards and risk level of your business at the time of the inspection.

Where you wish to lodge an appeal against the star rating given to your business, it is advisable, in the first instance, to discuss this with the Inspecting Officer.  This does not form part of the appeals process but provides the opportunity to discuss how the rating was worked out.

If you remain unhappy, or prior to this discussion, you should submit your appeal in writing (including by email to to the Head of Environmental Health and Housing.  Appeals process (pdf 60KB)

Lucy's Law

Changes have been made to the Animal Licensable Activities Legislation for the sale of puppies and kittens in England.

From 6 April 2020, it became illegal to sell puppies and kittens from pet shops and other commercial third party dealers.  Since October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 required any person who carries out the business of selling puppies and kittens as pets to hold a licence. From 6 April 2020 this was amended so that puppies and kittens (cats under six months old) may only be sold as pets if they have been bred by the licence holder.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019:

Dangerous wild animals and Zoos

The new regulations do not have any impact on the licensing of dangerous wild animals or zoos.