Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
Under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, anyone wanting to board animals commercially must obtain a licence from their local council, Rosegreen 4 Cats is licensed by Fife Council . The Act requires councils to ensure that the business in question observes certain conditions regarding the suitability of the accommodation provided and the welfare of the animals boarded.
At over 50 years old, the 1963 Boarding Establishment Act, which requires all boarding establishments to be licensed, is somewhat dated and does not reflect the needs of the modern dog or cat. In this issue we look at how licensing conditions are moving with the times.
The regulation of boarding establishments first began formally in 1963, with the passing of the Animal Boarding Act 1963, to quote Clause 1: ‘No person shall keep a boarding establishment for animals except under the authority of a licence granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act.’
Animal Welfare Act (AWA) Scotland 2007
In 2006, the long awaited Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was passed in Westminster Parliament and Scotland in 2007. Seen as a major step forward for animal welfare, the Act places a ‘duty of care’ on owners and keepers of animals, requiring them to be accountable for ensuring that the five welfare needs of their animals are met, comprising:
- the need for a suitable environment
- the need for a suitable diet
- the need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- the need to be housed with or apart from other animals (as applicable)
- the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
Looking at these five needs, three are consistent with the 1963 Act criteria in terms of accommodation, feeding and disease prevention. However, the AWA introduces a requirement to look after the animal’s mental well-being, something which is not covered either in the 1963 Act nor the subsequent MLCs.
To help address this a new working group was set up in 2012 to look into developing MLCs for catteries to bring in the requirement for mental welling. The group was again made up of animal welfare charities, the veterinary profession, local authority Environmental Health Officers and the Pet Industry Federation.
The Model Licence Conditions (MLCs) expanded on the Act and included stipulations on construction, the size of the units, cleaning and disinfection, food and drink provision, management procedures and disease control and vaccination.
The new MLCs for catteries were published in 2013 and subsequently updated in 2016 and are presented in a new format to follow the five needs of the AWA. They offer comprehensive advice to inspectors and cattery owners alike and include a check sheet which proprietors can use to self-assess their premises and procedures ahead of the licensing inspection.
Fife Council, Environment and Licensing like most Local Authorities has confirmed it has adopted the latest guidance and that all new catteries / applicants will need to meet the 2016 conditions fully to be licensed. It has also been clarified that existing catteries will be given a period of time in which to meet the 2016 conditions, however this
extension is applicable to any new applicants. All new owners /applicants will require to make a fresh application for a licence and fully meet current regulations. Although this is the most comprehensive change to animal boarding and will undoubtabley raise conditions and standards across the boarding cattery estate it may see a reduction in overall spaces available as older proprietors decide not to invest and upgrade and potential new owners find it cheaper to start a fresh with new premises and new units that meet licensing conditions from the outsight.
To download a copy of the 2013 Model Licensing Conditions as amended June 2016 click on the image opposite