What are the legal requirements for running boarding kennels?

The requirement to hold a licence

An individual seeking to run boarding kennels for dogs or cats must first obtain an animal boarding establishment licence from the local authority.

What does the law say?

Boarding kennels are “boarding establishments” as defined by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, which means the carrying on at any premises of a business providing accommodation for other people’s cats and dogs. This includes kennels which are run from a private dwelling.

Where someone provides accommodation for dogs or cats in connection with a business, but the provision of the accommodation is not the main activity of the business (for example a vet), then this falls outside of the legal definition of a boarding establishment and a licence is not required.

Can a licence be granted to anyone?

A licence will not be granted if the applicant is disqualified from keeping a boarding establishment for animals, or from keeping a pet shop.

Similarly, a licence will not be granted if the applicant is disqualified from owning, keeping, dealing in, or having custody of or transporting animals; or has been convicted of any other animal welfare offences.

What matters will a local authority consider when deciding to grant a licence?

When deciding whether to grant a licence, the local authority will take into account the suitability of the accommodation. It will seek to ensure that the animals will be suitably fed and exercised, and that reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and to guard against fire.

The local authority will also check that a proper register of animals will be maintained. The register should state the dates of arrival and departure of each animal, together with name and address of the owner.

A local authority has the discretion to refuse a licence on other grounds.

Will conditions be placed on the licence?

Any licence granted will be subject to conditions; for instance, how many dogs or cats you can take in; minor adjustments you must make; the minimum size of kennel required; and so on.

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For more information on:

  • How long does a licence last for?
  • If a licence is refused, can I appeal?
  • What are the consequences of not having a licence?
  • Inspections by local authorities and vets
  • Are there any other specific matters I should be aware of?