Animal welfare and licensing
Animal welfare establishments with a licence
You can find out if a business is licensed to keep animals by looking at our list of animal welfare establishments.
Activities needing a licence
The law governing the licensing of animal welfare establishments changed on the 1 October 2018 with the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations.
The regulations apply to the following activities:
The following licences are not affected by the changes and are still covered by earlier legislation:
Licensing of livery yards, racing greyhounds, animal sanctuaries and rescue centres is being considered.
If you are making a new application, we advise you to read the relevant guidance and speak to an Animal Welfare Officer before you apply.
Animal welfare issues
Under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is the duty of any person responsible for an animal to ensure that its welfare needs are met. These include:
- the need for a suitable environment (how it is housed)
- the need for a suitable diet (what it eats and drinks)
- the need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- any need to be housed with or apart from other animals, and
- the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
Animal welfare on farms, in transport, at markets and at slaughter
For full details of the requirements covering animal welfare and licensing on farms, in transport, at markets and at slaughter, see GOV.UK
Farm monitoring and support for farmers
We support farmers to meet their legal requirements and we monitor compliance - see farming information.
Animal welfare complaints and prosecutions
We will respond to complaints regarding farm animal welfare and welfare complaints relating to premises which we license, including premises that it is believed should be licensed. You should make complaints regarding other animals, including domestic pets to the RSPCA.
The local authority, police or a member of the public can undertake a prosecution which can be started up to 3 years after the offence (as long as its is within 6 months of the evidence becoming available).
Penalties will vary, but the most serious offences could incur a fine of up to £20,000 and /or 51 weeks imprisonment. Powers will be available to impose disqualification orders banning a person from owning or looking after animals and either dealing or transporting animals.
Reporting stray dogs and cats
The Dog Warden Service can assist with stray, barking or aggressive dogs. Dog fouling complaints should be referred to the Community Wardens. For stray cats, contact the RSPCA .
For more information about spotting bird flu, what to do when you suspect it, and measures to protect birds from it, see GOV.UKbird flu
Buying a puppy
See advice on buying a puppy to make sure you do not buy a puppy smuggled illegally from overseas.
Animal feed hygiene - business registration
All businesses making animal feed, feed retailers, farms using or mixing feed, and hauliers transporting animal feed must register with us so we can monitor food safety - see feed hygiene enforcement.
Page last reviewed: 10 March 2020
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