The new Animal Activities Licensing (AAL) regulations came into force on 1 October 2018. They replaced the Boarding Establishments Act 1963 which previously regulated all dog boarding establishments in England and Wales.
From the date of introduction any business boarding dogs in England commercially (Wales remain unchanged), during the day or overnight will need a licence issued under the new regulations, although existing licences issued under the Pet Animals Act 1951 or the Boarding Establishments Act 1963 will remain valid until they expired.
In our case our old licence expired on 31st December 2018 so we needed to apply for re licensing under the new regulations with effect from 1st January 2019.
The new licensing regulations are much stricter than previous with set criteria and requirements, which is welcomed by reputable boarding kennels. Previously the legislation was very old and out of date. It did not keep up with modern pet owners expectations and lifestyles and another major criticism was that it was not applied consistently across the country. These concerns have been addressed in the new regulations.
So we made our application and read and reread through the new requirements. We were very familiar with the old legislation as we have been operating for almost 60 years so have been through the licensing process many times. It was a formality for us previously but this year it was going to be a bigger challenge as we wanted to achieve the highest star rating possible.
For many years we have provided way above the requirements of the previous licensing legislation as we already knew that the old fashioned way of dog boarding where dogs have a kennel and run and stay there for the length of the stay was no longer acceptable, in the best interest of the dogs or us as the carers . Our focus has been on activity sessions, enrichment, dog training, human interaction etc plus close monitoring of weights, health, feeding, medications and keeping parents updated during their pets stay with pictures etc. Experience has shown us that happy dogs are dogs that have enough enrichment and socialisation as it reduces kennel stress, and also goes a long way towards reducing separation anxiety.
The inspection day arrived with the 2 inspectors arriving unannounced. The inspection was thorough and comprehensive looking at our systems, our facilities and our maintenance and emergency procedures . The inspectors communicated that all was well on the day and that we would receive our licence in a few days.
So we waited patiently and two days later it arrived and we were so delighted to learn we had gained the top star rating possible.
The star rating is awarded based on welfare standards found during an inspection and on whether that business is deemed low or high risk. Now we have a industry recognised rating that will enable us to stand out from the crowd.
If you want to learn more about what gaining this rating entailed the full regulations are available to view online at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2018/9780111165485