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What Is An Animal Activity Licence And Do You Need One?

11th November 22

With the UK pet population reaching an all-time high, demand for Animal Care Professionals is skyrocketing. If you adore animals, this means it’s an ideal time to earn a living by doing something you love, or even earn a second income to help during the cost of living crisis.

The only thing is, many people that are starting certain animal businesses or working within them don’t realise they need a licence to operate legally.

There’s no need to panic though. To help you keep your animal business in line with the law, we’ve provided an overview of the changes in legislation, which businesses they affect, and how to get an animal licence.

What Is An Animal Activities Licence?

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) made changes to the Animal Activity Licensing Regulations that took effect from the 1st of October 2018. This is to ensure all companion animal businesses are run to a regulated set of standards, so the animals involved within them are cared for appropriately.

This means that certain animal-related activities are now covered under a single type of licence, known as an Animal Activity Licence (AAL), rather than under separate licences. Anyone who carries out or carries on with any of the licensable animal activities without a licence is committing an offence.

Licenses can be valid from 1 to 3 years, and animal businesses are given a star rating from 1 to 5. All of this depends on whether the business demonstrates minor failings, meets the minimum standards, or the higher set of standards, and they are deemed a higher or low risk.

The licencing of activities involving animals helps the relevant governing bodies and animal licensing professionals, as well as prospective customers, know whether animals will be in good hands with that animal business.

dogs playing in kennels

What Businesses Need An Animal Activities Licence?

Animal Activity Licensing Regulations currently apply to those running a number of businesses that involve animals, including Dog Boarding Kennels, Catteries, Day Care for Dogs, Home Boarding for Dogs, and Pet Shops. As well as several others, which are highlighted on the UK Government website.

So, if you want to:

  • Open a doggy daycare
  • Start a dog boarding business
  • Open a cattery
  • Work in a pet shop

You will need an Animal Activity Licence (AAL)!

How Do You Meet Animal Activity Licensing Requirements?

Part of the process of getting licensed is getting qualified in your chosen area of animal activity.

This makes sure staff are trained in:

  • Animal welfare, including recognising poor welfare
  • Animal behaviour
  • Animal handling
  • Cleanliness and hygiene
  • Feeding and preparing food
  • Giving first aid to sick or injured animals
  • Preventing and controlling disease
  • Recognising sick or injured animals

To Meet The Minimum AAL Requirements

If staff can’t prove they have relevant and sufficient knowledge and experience gained prior to this change in animal business legislation, they must hold a formal qualification such as a Level 2 qualification regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) appropriate for their role. All staff must also complete and evidence ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

By meeting the minimum standard, your animal business will get a 1-year licence, a maximum 3-star rating, and will have to pay a higher licence fee.

To Meet The Higher AAL Standards

In order to meet the higher Animal Activity Licensing standards, there must be a member of permanent, full-time staff with an appropriate Ofqual regulated Level 3 qualification.

By meeting the higher standards, your animal business can get a 2 to 3-year licence, a 4 or 5-star rating, and benefit from paying a lower licence fee.

dog wearing harness being stroked

What Online Courses Meet Animal Activity Licensing Requirements?

If you’re wondering how to set up a dog daycare business, how to start a dog boarding business, how to run a cattery, or how to work in a pet shop, we have online courses that can help you meet Animal Activity Licensing requirements for these animal businesses quickly.

Level 2 Award in Canine Care and Welfare

This Level 2 online canine care and welfare course meets the Basic Standard Animal Activity Licensing Requirements. The Ofqual-approved qualification consists of 2 units that study canine health and welfare and the principles of canine behaviour and training. Perfect for getting started in canine-related companion animal businesses.

Level 3 Diploma in Canine Care, Behaviour and Welfare

This Level 3 online course in canine care, behaviour and welfare meets the Higher Standard Animal Activity Licensing requirements. It’s an Ofqual-approved qualification consisting of 7 units which examine the care of canines in kennels and dog daycare/dog boarding, canine welfare, first aid, training, behaviour, handling, transportation, legislation, and grooming. Ideal for learners hoping to run a 5-star canine business!

Level 3 Diploma in Feline Care, Behaviour and Welfare

This Level 3 course in feline care, behaviour and welfare meets the Higher Standard Animal Activity Licensing Requirements. It’s Ofqual-approved and consists of 8 units that study the care of cats in catteries, nutrition, handling and transportation, anatomy and physiology, felines and the law, as well as feline behaviour and psychology. The perfect way to elevate your cattery business by obtaining the highest level of cattery licence.

Level 3 Diploma in Kennel and Cattery Management

This Level 3 online course in kennel and cattery management meets the Higher Standard Animal Activity Licensing Requirements. This Ofqual-approved qualification consists of 8 units that delve into the welfare and care of dogs and cats, feline and canine behaviour, animal welfare legislation and the management of kennels and catteries. It’s the ideal go-to course for anyone looking to care for both cats and dogs in a boarding capacity.

Level 3 Award for Pet Care in Retail

If you want to work in a pet shop, this Level 3 online course in pet care for retail meets the Higher Standard Animal Activity Licensing Requirements. This Ofqual-approved qualification consists of 6 units that explore everything from keeping animals as pets to nutrition, accommodation, and enrichment, and more! This course provides you with knowledge of pet care businesses, teaches you how to care for animals in a retail setting and helps you understand how to advise customers who are purchasing a pet. All of these are essential skills for any pet shop worker!

dogs being walked by dog walker

Get Advice On Meeting Animal Activity Licensing Requirements

Animal Activity Licensing is coming into effect in more animal-related businesses to ensure animals' welfare needs are met and they are cared for by trained professionals in that space.

If you’re unsure of how to meet the Animal Activity Licensing Requirements of your business, or if your type of animal activity business needs a licence at all, you can contact our team of animal career experts for more information.

Contact them now on 01202 006 464 or speak to them online, they are always on hand to help with your queries. You can also keep track of all animal awareness days and events with our FREE calendar! Download it here.

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