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AWB to license home boarding

HOME BOARDING will be licensed under the Animal Welfare Bill, according to the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The Government will pave the way for secondary legislation to licence the home boarding of dogs, a spokesman for Defra told boarding kennel & cattery owners last week.

Speaking at a seminar of around 50 kennel and cattery owners hosted by the Pet Care Trust, (PCT) in Bedford on 23rd November, Graham Thurlow said Defra is mindful of the UK pet industry's concerns.

In a forty-minute presentation to the seminar, Mr Thurlow explained the main points of the Bill, including the introduction of codes of practice. A draft Cat Code has been prepared to accompany the Bill through the parliamentary process but is not yet in the public domain.

He also outlined the parliamentary process the bill now faced, pointing out the Bill’s projected timetable for the first time, adding that: "If things go according to plan, we hope to have an Act by October 2006."

The Trust is pressing for minimum competency standards, experience or qualification, to be applied to the boarding sector, as they apply to pet retailing.

Risk-assessed

In drafting the bill, Graham Thurlow said Defra had been working closely with the Better Regulation Unit. As a result, current plans for secondary legislation include extending the licensing period for boarding kennels and catteries for up to three years, with inspections on a risk-assessed basis.

Janet Nunn, CEO, PCT says she is dismayed that her concerns about health risks posed by commercial home boarding are being "brushed aside" by Defra. Speaking in a statement issued by the Trust, she reiterated the PCT strong stance against the home boarding sector, saying:

"The Pet Care Trust believes that home boarding premises cannot offer an appropriate standard of animal care as set out for licensed kennels and catteries. There are issues of cross infection, segregation and welfare that government need to address. It should not be left to members of the public to assess risk on commercial activity; that's what law makers are paid to do."

Graham Thurlow appears to prefer the licensing option for home boarders. "This is not a banning bill – our intention is to regulate where necessary. Mr Bradshaw is not a banning minister," said Mr Thurlow.

Earlier this year, OUR DOGS reported how the PCT’s demands to ban home boarding had caused outrage amongst responsible home boarding businesses. DEFRA’s stance is sure to be a humiliating rebuff for the PCT, who have considered themselves amongst the Government’s top advisors when it came to the AWB.

[With thanks to Steve O’Malley, UK Pets]

The issue of Home Boarding will be covered in Nick Mays’ ongoing series ‘Focus On The AWB’, which resumes in OUR DOGS in the New Year.