The new Animal Welfare Act 2018 has come into effect as of 1st October 2018, and it will have an impact on the way dogs are bred and sold in the UK. There have been many advances in the understanding of dog welfare since previous acts, the most recent of which came into force 19 years ago. The new legislation has been welcomed by animal welfare organisations, but what will it mean for you?
The key reforms
There is now a single licence for the selling, breeding and boarding of dogs, including for home boarders and daycare companies. The practice legislation for these activities has been updated with the help of animal welfare charities, implementing key requirements from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Model Licence Conditions as law.
Licences will now be issued as fixed-term, starting from any point during the year to prevent a build-up of inspections coming at a single time of year. And local authorities will utilise a risk-based approach to issuing licences, facilitating lower risk and higher performing operators being permitted to hold a licence for longer, and with fewer inspections. This will be an incentive for higher standards and reduce the burden on local authorities.
There will be no puppies sold before they reach 8 weeks of age under any circumstances. Anyone who breeds 3+ litters will need a licence (down from 5+), and anyone making money from breeding and selling will need to be licensed, regardless of how many litters they produce.
The advertising of pet sales online will be more closely monitored to ensure it is legal and ethical. This will include licensed sellers being made to disclose their licence numbers.
Will the new regulations make a difference?
It is important these new regulations are conveyed to the public to ensure they have the maximum positive impact. Businesses and local authorities also need to be fully briefed to enable them to remain fully compliant at all times.
Moving forward, there are calls for the government to build on the good work of the new Animal Welfare Act 2018. Animal welfare groups would like to see similar regulations introduced for rehoming organisations, dog walkers, dog groomers and hydrotherapy institutions. You can see the full Animal Welfare Act 2018 here.