Animal welfare and licensing

Animal welfare (licensing of activities involving animals) regulations 2018

The law governing the licensing of animal welfare establishments is changing from the 1 October 2018. This has been done in order to bring the licensing regime up to date with local government regulation and improving animal care standards and make it compatible with the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The new licensing regime applies to the following licensable activities:

  • selling animals as pets
  • providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs (including day care and/or home boarding of dogs)
  • hiring out horses
  • breeding dogs
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

The changes do not apply to Zoo licences or Dangerous Wild Animals licences. These remain covered by existing legislation, but do still require a licence.

Understanding the new changes

It is important that licence holders understand the guidance relevant to their business but as a start your attention is drawn to the following key changes:

  • inspections are risk based 
  • a performance rating system is introduced and linked to the period of the licence
  • licences can be issued for one, two or three years.
  • the fees will need to be recalculated and based on “reasonable anticipated costs” of the process.
  • protection is provided for licences in the event of the death of the licence holder.
  • specific training qualifications have been introduced 
  • licenses can be varied, suspended or revoked
  • an appeals process is established for refusal of a licence,  alterations to the licence and the performance rating
  • emphasis is put on the suitability of the environment for the particular needs of the animal
  • emphasis for animal welfare is put on the management arrangements.
  • isolation facilities must be adequate and may be an arrangement with the attending vet and confirmed in writing.
  • arrangements for suitable transport are included.Where the business has a web site it must display the licence holder's name and the licence number
  • service of documents can be made by email to the last known email address of the licence holder
  • the Council cannot issue a licence in any circumstances other than those described in the regulations

Summary of the requirements

Premises presently holding an animal licence

The Council will contact premises currently holding a licence to make them aware of the changes. You should read the new Regulations and Conditions carefully to ensure compliance.

New applications

Anyone wishing to apply for a new licence is strongly advised to read the relevant guidance and then speak to a member of Animal Welfare Officer before making an application.

Additional information

Licensing of livery yards, racing greyhounds, animal sanctuaries and rescue centres is also being considered.

Animal Welfare Act 2006

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into force on 6 April 2007.

The aim of the Act is to improve the welfare of animals, impose greater responsibility on their carers, and provide greater investigation and entry powers for police and local authority staff to deal with offences.

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

Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act

Cheshire East Council will respond to complaints regarding farm animal welfare and welfare complaints relating to premises which it licenses, including premises that it is believed should be licensed.  Complaints regarding other animals, including domestic pets should be directed 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. The Council does not deal with stray cats but you can contact the RSPCA.