Licensing requirements for Kennel Club Assured Dog Breeders in England

Licensing requirements for Kennel Club Assured Dog Breeders in England

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If you are a dog breeder, are planning to become one, or want to find out more about having a litter from your own dog, you may already know that changes to the Animal Welfare Act that passed into law in October 2018 now require any persons involved in the breeding or selling of puppies for profit to be licenced by their local council authority.

You can read all about the recent changes to the law here, but essentially, if you breed three or more litters in any one year or potentially even if you just breed one with a view to profiting from it, your operation is classed as a business and needs to be licenced.

As the changes to the law only came into play less than a year ago, the logistics of licencing, what is involved, and how a license is approved or denied for any given breeder isn’t always clear to those registering themselves for the first time.

Assuming that you breed responsibly with the health and welfare of your parent stock and puppies at the front of your mind at all times, fulfilling the licencing criteria and attaining your licence shouldn’t be difficult – but the Kennel Club and DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have just taken steps to make the process easier for Kennel Club Assured Breeders with an established track record in good standing.

If you are a Kennel Club Assured Breeder and have been one for three or more years, this means you – and in this article, we will outline how the Kennel Club and DEFRA’s new agreement will work when it comes to local council breeder licensing. Read on to learn more.

The Assured Breeder Scheme and DEFRA

The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme is designed to recognise dog breeders in good standing who go the extra mile to ensure the health and welfare of their dogs, and the improvement of the breeds they work with as a whole. There are a number of requirements that members of the scheme must fulfil to attain or keep their membership – and some of these are breed-specific, such as taking part in health testing schemes that are mandatory for Assured Breeders but not all breeders in general.

Assured Breeders also commit to following a number of rules and guidelines concerning their operations that once more, are designed to keep dogs safe and healthy – and to reassure puppy buyers that choosing a pup from an Assured Breeder is a sound investment.

Because the Assured Breeder Scheme is long established and widely recognised by other formal bodies to indicate a responsible, conscientious breeder who operates within both the remit of the law and accepted good practice, DEFRA recently indicated their support of licencing approval as standard for Kennel Club Assured Breeders of three or more years’ standing.

Licensing for Assured Breeders with a three-year track record

DEFRA has issued a formal memo to all local authorities in England stating that applicants for a dog breeding licence (or licence renewal) who are also Kennel Club Assured Breeders of three or more years’ standing should be given a valid licence for three years with a five-star rating.

All of the other rules and regulations for licencing (which may vary from area to area in some cases) must be met, but the introduction of this policy should make it easier and faster for Assured Breeders with the appropriate track record to be approved for their licences, without the automatic need for often onerous delays for checks to be performed or premises to be inspected.

Local authorities may of course reject an Approved Breeder’s application if they do not meet some of the relevant criteria, and approval or certification doesn’t mean that a premises won’t necessarily be inspected either at the time of the application or later on.

However, holding Assured Breeder status for three years or more should now mean that licencing your premises and operation should be easier and faster than it has been previously, reflecting the high standards expected of Assured Breeders and the Kennel Club’s commitment to maintaining them.

The document that has been supplied to local authorities in England by DEFRA states that “In relation to dog breeding, the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme operates to the higher standards, and is currently the only UKAS accredited scheme operating in this area of animal activities.”

In particular, DEFRA’s use of the term “higher standards” clarifies for local authority licencing departments that members of the Assured Breeders Scheme are considered to be low-risk propositions for licensing.

Whilst the change only applies so far to local authorities in England (and so, not Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) it will help to speed up licencing, reduce red tape and help to avoid a potentially prolonged wait for inspections or approval, and so offers a further advantage to established members of the Assured Breeder Scheme in England.

You can read the full details of DEFRA’s memo to local authorities concerning Assured breeder licensing here.



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