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Agenda Item No. 7

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 18th May 2016

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Licensing of Animal 'Day Care' Facilities

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To advise the Joint Committee of the emerging trend for animal 'day care' and seek approval for the Shared Regulatory Service to licence such establishments.

Recommendations

It is recommended that the Joint Committee

  1. Notes the content of this report and approves the principle of licensing animal day care premises.
  2. Approves a period of consultation with businesses offering animal day care facilities and other relevant stakeholders, on the content of the proposed licensing conditions.
  3. Considers the outcome of the consultation at its next meeting, with a view to approving a model set of licensing conditions for animal day care premises and the fees to be charged.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. Shared Regulatory Services administers the licensing of a range of animal related premises including kennels, pet shops and horse riding establishments. Each different category of licence has a set of licence conditions to be satisfied, and a fee structure. The Service has become aware of a growing trend across the region of a new type of establishment offering animal day care services under labels such as 'doggy day care' and 'dog crèches'. In order to licence this new class of animal establishment, a set of conditions and fee structure need to be agreed.

Background

  1. At its last meeting, the Joint Committee approved a schedule of fees to be charged for licences administered by the Shared Regulatory Service, including the full range of animal related licences.
  2. Since that time, the Service has become aware of a growing trend for day care centres being set up which charge members of the public to look after their dogs while they are out at work or otherwise away for the day. Popularly known as 'doggy day care' or 'dog creche' facilities, some of these businesses run from industrial type units while others appear to be run from domestic premises.
  3. The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 requires that any business providing accommodation for other people's dogs and cats is licensed by the local authority.
  4. The legislation defines a boarding establishment as the carrying on of a business of providing accommodation for other people's dogs or cats, and acknowledges that the premises can be of any nature, including a private dwelling. There is no distinction in the Act between premises that provide overnight accommodation (the traditional boarding establishments such as kennels and catteries) and those that accommodate animals only during the day as in the case of day care / crèche facilities.
  5. A 2007 Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) opinion provided further clarification on the subject of novel business models, advising that 'Local authorities are advised to look at the 'primary function' of the business. Where the primary function is to board animals then this would suggest that the business requires a licence. Businesses where the boarding is ancillary to the primary function are unlikely to require a licence, for example, pet groomers and trainers'.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. It is clear from the above that day care and crèche type premises are covered by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, and it is important that they are brought into the licensing regime as soon as possible. This is for a number of reasons, in particular.
  • Public safety
  • Animal welfare
  • The avoidance of nuisance
  • Fairness to other animal boarding premises in the region which have to comply with strict licence conditions and pay an annual licence fee.
  1. As these premises haven't been licensed before there will be additional work for officers to inspect, but this would be compensated through the licence fees in what is a novel area for the Shared Service to recover costs.
  2. As these business models are quite distinct from those currently licensed by the Service under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, a specific set of model licence conditions is required. A number of local authorities already licence such premises and good practice examples have been identified by the Shared Regulatory Service in arriving at suitable and appropriate conditions for this particular business type.
  3. The set of model licence conditions proposed is attached at Annex 1 to this report and are based on the principles contained in the Animal Boarding Establishments Act whereby the local authority, in determining whether to grant a licence, must have regard to securing:-

         (a) that animals will at all times be kept in accommodation suitable as respects construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness;

         (b) that animals will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding material, adequately exercised, and (so far as necessary) visited at suitable intervals;

         (c) that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread among animals of infectious or contagious diseases, including the provision of adequate isolation facilities;

         (d) that appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of the animals in case of fire or other emergency;

         (e) that a register be kept containing a description of any animals received into the establishment, date of arrival and departure, and the name and address of the owner, such register to be available for inspection at all times by an officer of the local authority, veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner

  1. Animal Health and Welfare Officers will inspect the premises prior to their being licensed to ensure compliance with the relevant licence conditions. To reflect the work involved in assessing compliance against the conditions, it is proposed that the fees charged fall in line with the current schedule of charges for boarding establishments carried out on a similar scale. Thus those day care facilities operating on a large scale would be charged the same as a traditional boarding establishment, while those operating on a small, domestic premises scale are charged the same as the provider of home boarding facilities.
  2. It is proposed that those businesses that would be affected by the suggested extension in the licensing regime are identified and are consulted over a 28 day period on the proposed licence conditions. Other stakeholders such as the RSPCA could also be included in the consultation. Respondents would be able to participate via a range of channels, including via the Shared Regulatory Services website, email and in hard copy format.
  3. All comments will be collated and acted upon as appropriate, and the draft licence conditions and proposed fee structure returned to the next meeting of the Joint Committee for Members' approval.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. As outlined above, it is proposed that the costs of administering this new aspect of the licensing portfolio would be recovered in line with the current licensing of traditional boarding establishments and the smaller home boarding settings, as the work involved in checking compliance are alike.
  2. As such, there are no adverse resource implications for the service.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no immediate sustainability or climate change implications associated with this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Under relevant legislation, the Council is allowed to recover costs for Regulatory activity and the issuing of permits and licences.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no immediate crime and disorder implications associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no anticipated equal opportunities implications associated with this report. Through the monitoring and review of fees and charges, the Shared Service will ensure that its enforcement activity reflects this position and is in keeping with the Equality Statements and Policies of the participant authorities.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Extending the current licence regime links with the participant authorities' stated objectives which are reflected in the Shared Regulatory Service themes of 'Protecting the environment', 'Improving health and well-being', Supporting the local economy and 'Maximising the use of resources''

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The key service and improvement objectives contained in the SRS Business Plan identify and link to the Corporate Plans of each Council. This proposal is focused upon health and well-being along with the maximising resources component of the plan. It is intended that the adopted Scrutiny regime will engage in the review and developments of plans, policies and strategies that support the corporate objectives of each Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. As set out above, subject to Joint Committee agreement, the proposed extension of the current animal related licensing regime would be subject to 28 days' consultation with stakeholders.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. The SRS is currently scrutinised through the arrangements in pace at each partner Council.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Helen Picton, Operational Manager (Enterprise and Specialist Services)

Officers Consulted

Head of Service, Bridgend County Borough Council

Assistant Director, City of Cardiff Council

Director of Environment and Housing services, Vale of Glamorgan

Accountant, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Legal Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Responsible Officer:

Dave Holland, Head of Shared Regulatory Services