The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals (England) Regulations October 1st 2018


Why was Government intervention necessary in changing the pre-existing legislation?

The existing licensing regimes for animal related activities pre-date the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and were not consistent with their standards, or with each other. The prime objective was to improve animal welfare by bringing five animal activities licensing schemes up to date and in line with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Despite providing guidance to local authority inspectors to raise welfare standards, many did not adopt the guidance, nor did it have a big enough impact on welfare principles. The guidance underpinning the new regulations is ministerial guidance and consequently has to be followed by local authorities. Therefore, it was concluded that the best option to effectively raise standards with so many independent businesses was to update the legislation to make it less complex and unnecessarily burdensome and more transparent and efficient.


What is the Animal Welfare legislation which became Law on October 1st 2018 and has it changed?

The legal documentation relating to changes in the law for dog breeding applies only to England, with no changes to existing breeding regulations currently to be made in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.


The new regulations cover dog breeders, dog and cat boarders, pet vendors, those running horse riding establishments and those exhibiting animals in the course of a business.


The main legislative changes which have been made are:


✓ A breeding licence will be required for anyone breeding three or more litters and selling at least one puppy in a 12 month period. This is a reduction from the previous litter test of five or more litters.


✓ A licence is not required if documentary evidence can be provided that none of the puppies or adult dogs have been sold.


✓ Anyone in the business of selling dogs (even one or two litters in a 12 month period) may require a licence. This is not new and has been in place since 1999. The Government provides guidance on what local authority inspectors should consider when assessing whether a breeder meets the business test*.


✓ A new star rating system is being introduced based on welfare conditions and breeding history which has been designed to reward high performing breeding establishments and to give further help to puppy buying public in identifying good breeders.


There is a five year review of the Regulations built in to the legislation


It is important to appreciate the distinction between the two issues breeding and business (below) accepting that, as has always been the case, they are inextricably linked.


a) a breeder’s legal responsibility under the AW Regulations is to apply for a licence to breed dogs if they breed more than three or more litters and selling at least one puppy in a 12 month period (a reduction for the previous litter test of five or more litters)


b) everybody’s legal responsibility, where applicable, to declare Income Tax (this has not changed)


➢ What is the definition of a business?

If you breed any litter of puppies with the intent of making a profit, or earn commission or a fee for doing so, then as before, you will be viewed by the Local Authority, as with any other activity where money changes hands, as a ‘business’. You are probably not trading if you sell occasionally, or your base intention is not to make a profit.


To provide evidence of this, you will need to keep accurate and up to date written financial records.


• Use the link to the HMRC’s 9 Badges of Trade to establish whether or not you are carrying out a business.


i. Are you selling or advertising high volumes of animals?


ii. Are you selling or advertising low volumes of animals with a high sales price, or large profit margins?


iii. Are these sales frequent, in large numbers?


iv. Are these sales systematic and repeatedly been used by the same means of advertising?


DEFRA have made it clear that there is no intention to target what it regards as ‘hobby’ breeders i.e. those who breed dogs to grow into a future show prospect and/or compete in performance activities appropriate to the breed.


➢ What is a ‘trading income tax threshold’, and does it apply to dog breeders?


✓ There is a £1,000 trading income tax threshold which applies to anyone regardless of whether they are selling dogs (who in law are classed as ‘chattels’ or goods) or any other merchandise.


✓ Those who bring in less than £1,000 of income (ignoring costs involved) are not obliged under the law to declare this income to HMRC.


✓ Once you cross the £1,000 trading income threshold, then income should be declared to HMRC, at which point costs incurred will also be assessed to determine whether tax is payable or not. Hence the (legal) requirement to keep accurate and up to date financial records of all income and expenditure in carrying out trading.


✓ In regard to dog breeding, the guidance document states that those who fall under a threshold of £1,000 of trading income will be by default considered not to be running a business.


✓ It should be noted that the ‘more than three litters’ rule applies even if income is less than £1,000.


The guidance is almost certainly going to be amended in the coming months so please use the link dance.aspx so as to ensure you do not reference old documents


However, this does not mean that everyone who makes more than £1,000 trading income will be classified as a business and need a licence (see above business trading test).


➢ How do you apply for a dog breeding licence?


o Make an application to your Local Authority Each LA may have differing fee paying structures and your ‘star rating’* will also be taken into consideration.


o On receipt of your application the LA will appoint an inspector together with a veterinary surgeon to ensure your premises meet the legal licensing requirements.


➢ What is the length of duration of a dog breeding licence?


A local authority may grant a licence for a period of one, two or three years as part of a star rating licensing model i.e. a 1* breeder will be inspected more frequently than a 5* breeder. A 1* breeder will need to renew their licence annually, while a 5* breeder will only need to renew their licence every three years.


DEFRA’s guidance advises breeders on steps they will need to take to achieve a 5 star rating and be awarded a 3 year licence. A lower star rating means breeders will be inspected more often and pay a higher licence fee.


DEFRA recognises that breeders who are members of a UKAS Accredited Scheme such as the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme and who have been accredited under the scheme for 3 or more consecutive years should be classified as a ‘low risk’ breeder and be given a three year licence period.


Please note, however, that some of the ‘higher standards’ are greater than the KC ABS e.g. ABS allow two caesareans, whereas the higher standard only allows one. Failure to achieve all the ‘higher standards’ will result in a rating of less than 5*


The current guidance, which was based on the Model CIEH Licensing Conditions, will now be linked to a ‘star rating’ system which should be beneficial to responsible breeders. The new licensing conditions have been drafted to differentiate between those breeding within their home and those who have purpose-built breeding facilities.


➢ Do you need a licence to advertise puppies for sale?


Any advertisement for the sale of a dog must include your licence number, the issuing Local Authority, a photograph which identifies the dog being advertised, and the age of the dog being advertised. Those who do not require a licence are not obliged to include any of this information.


If you have any further questions or queries, please contact DEFRA