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Pet shops and kennels face licensing lottery

Pet shops, kennels and catteries across the country face a postcode lottery when it comes to licensing, according to a new survey by the Pet Care Trust.

With the proposed Animal Welfare Bill likely to impose costly vet inspections when local authorities license pet shops, boarding kennels and catteries, the Trust is reviewing its members’ experience of licensing. A survey was sent out to members in December – so far 157 replies have been collected.

The average cost for a licence nationally is £96.31. But how much a business pays for a licence can vary massively according to which local authority issues it. A pet shop in East Renfrewshire reported paying only £30 a year: a pet shop in Canterbury, meanwhile, pays £282 for the same period.

"These figures expose once and for all the unfairness of current licensing policy," said Janet Nunn, chief executive of the Pet Care Trust. "Why should one pet shop pay one price and a pet shop just down the road pay twice that amount, just because they are licensed by different local authorities?"

Respondents were also asked about their experience of current licensing inspection visits. Currently 43.3% of inspections are arranged beforehand.

A clear majority (83.4%) described their inspections as "detailed" or "very detailed". But only 35.3% said they currently receive a report after the visit, even though many commented that they would welcome one.