Pet businesses in Rother are being warned of potential disruption in the new year due to the introduction of new animal licensing laws.
The new legislation – which came into force on October 1 – sees a wide range of changes to the licensing of businesses such as pet shops, breeders, dog boarding and catteries.
Changes include the introduction of more flexible licensing arrangements and a new star-rating for businesses, said to be similar to the food hygiene ratings.
But, speaking at a meeting on Monday (October 22), licensing officer Richard Parker-Harding warned councillors that there was likely to be some disruption in January as a result of changes in the legislation.
He said: “One of the difficulties of having this new legislation, is that arrangements under the old act were quite strange, in that they all ran from the first of January to the 31st of December. This meant that even if you applied for a licence on the first of December then it would still run out on the 31st.
“Under the new act, licences will run from the date of the application. This creates a practical problem, in that all the old licences will run out on the 31st of December.
“This means all the existing premises will need to apply on the first of January and, unlike Brexit, there are no transitional arrangements.
“In theory, when everyone applies then we need to inspect all the premises and issue a licence on the first of January, which is clearly impractical.”
Mr Parker-Harding added that there were likely to be delays to the issue of licences in the first year as there would not be enough resources to carry out all of the inspections immediately.
He also said it would be necessary for businesses to familiarise themselves with the new guidance, so they know what inspectors will be looking for when deciding the new star ratings.
Mr Parker-Harding said: “The difference there is that a premises with a one-star rating will be inspection every year – and will only have its licence for one year. Whereas if a premises has five stars, a very high standard, it will get its licence for three years and only be inspected once every three years.
“The exception is riding establishments which still have to be inspected by a vet each year.”
The legislation also includes the new guidance around the ‘business test’ for dog breeding, which means anyone “breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs” may be required to apply for a licence.
While the test had existed under the previous legislation, the new guidance explicitly says that anyone earning less than £1,000 from the sale of puppies would not be considered a business.
This new guidance caused some concerns among councillors, who pointed out that the sale of a single puppy – particularly a pedigree breed – could easily exceed that cap.
Mr Parker-Harding said he believed it was likely that the guidance would be amended in the near future to clarify this point.
Dog breeders who breed more than three litters a year will also need to apply for a licence. Previously the limit was five litters a year.
Under the new legislation adverts selling pets must also include a photo of the pet as well as the breeder’s licence number and name of the issuing local authority. They must also include both the county of origin and residence of the pet.
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