Dog Breeding Licence
If you wish to run a dog breeding business in England and Wales, there are strict conditions which you must comply with and you will require a dog breeding licence. As well as these conditions, there are laws and regulations that business owners need to follow to remain on the right side of the law.
There are various laws that relate to breeding dogs as a business some which relate to animal welfare while others relate to the way in which the dogs are kept and sold. The two main areas of legislation that you should be familiar with include the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 and the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973.
If you intend to manage, own or operate a business for the purpose of breeding dogs, you must obtain the necessary licence from the local authority.
The legislation is quite specific when it comes to defining an establishment for dog breeding. It states that for dog breeding to take place at any location whether it is a commercial property or a private residence, an individual will be classed as running this type of business if the following apply:
- Firstly if the individual keeps a female dog (bitch) at the property and this dog gives birth to puppies at any point within a 12 month period
- Secondly, if there are more than 4 litters born to the dogs during any 12 month period. This applies regardless of whether the dogs are kept at the premises or not. It is also classed as a breeding establishment if any relatives of the individual such as a grandparent, parent, child, sibling or other relative keeps the dogs at their place of residence. The regulations also apply if the dogs are kept anywhere by an individual under a dog breeding agreement.
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Criteria for a Dog Breeding Licence
There are certain criteria that must be fulfilled before a dog breeding licence can be obtained. Most importantly, a licence cannot be issued to an individual who has been:
- Banned from keeping an establishment set up for the purpose of breeding dogs
- Prohibited from owning or running a pet shop
- Disqualified from keeping animals or a boarding establishment in any form for animals
When reaching a decision to grant or deny an application for a dog breeding licence there are a number of factors that will be considered. The local authority will undertake more detailed checks where licences are being obtained for new properties. These checks will also include an inspection which will be conducted by an officer from the local authority and a vet.
A report will be prepared in relation to the premises and the applicant along with any other relevant issues.
The following will be taken into consideration when deciding to grant a licence:
- The suitability of the property
- The availability of bedding material, food and drink for the dog(s)
- Processes are in place to ensure that the dogs will be exercised sufficiently and visited as necessary
- Precautions are in place to reduce the spread of illness or infection
- There are sufficient safeguards in place to reduce the risk of fire as well as other emergencies
- There are policies in place to make sure that bitches under the age of one year will not be mated and bitches will not give birth to in excess of 6 litters
- The local authority will also verify that there are suitable record keeping processes in place
Terms and Conditions of the Licence
Once the local authority have decided to issue a licence, it is subject to terms and conditions. These conditions can be appealed but to do so the individual must do so through the Magistrates Court.
Failure to adhere to the conditions of the licence can have severe consequences. The local authority also has the power to revoke the licence and the Court can disqualify the licence holder from running a business associated with breeding dogs. The Court can also award custody to the dog(s) for a certain period of time which is at their discretion.
Licences issued for dog breeding establishments have to be renewed on an annual basis unless they are cancelled by the local authority. If a licence holder passes away the licence is transferable to the next of kin for a set period of three months. The next of kin or personal representative of the individual may then submit an application to extend the licence for a further three months to enable them to deal with the affairs of the deceased.
If you run a dog breeding business but you do not obtain the necessary licence, you may receive a fine in addition to a custodial sentence. Additionally, you may also be disqualified from owning or keeping any type of dog breeding establishment in future. The Court can also disqualify you from owning a dog for a specific period of time. Courts can also require you to surrender the dog. Failure to comply with any instruction issued by the court will result in criminal sanctions such as a term in prison or a fine.
The local authority has the right to carry out an inspection of your premises at any time. Furthermore, they can also instruct that a practitioner or vet conducts the inspection on their behalf. Failure to allow a visit or deliberately obstructing the inspector is an offence and will result in a fine.
Running a business that specialises in breeding dogs is complex. It is important that you have the right resources, policies and procedures in place to ensure that you not only comply with the regulations set out in the various pieces of legislation, but you comply with the conditions of the licence. Local authorities will keep a close watch on your business to ensure that it is operating as it should and the animals in your care are well looked after.
If you are considering setting up a dog breeding business it is strongly advised that you consult a qualified legal professional with expert knowledge in this area of law so they can advise you accordingly.
Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that the welfare of the animals is protected when they are in your care.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.