Which laws apply to your pet care business?

23 December 2019
Caroline Foreman
pet sitting law

As a pet sitter, you are legally accountable for the safety of the pets in your care so you must have up to date knowledge of your legal obligations including any specific local authority regulations. This is especially true for dog walkers and boarders. Without this, you could end up getting a large fine from your local authority, criminal proceedings against you or even banned from ever owning a pet again.

The pet-sitting sector is largely unregulated, with no registered Associations or required qualifications, however, many laws apply to the control and care of animals.

British Pet Owners

It is estimated that 44% of UK households have a pet. Dogs and cats are the most popular in almost equal measure but most legislation applies to dogs, with over 20 laws covering dog ownership in the UK.

British pet owners have a legal duty to provide for their pet’s welfare and needs. Additionally, all domestic animals in the UK have their own legal status which means they are entitled to protection from pain and suffering, fed and housed in a suitable environment. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.

Licences and Laws

For cat sitting and dog walking you do not require a licence, however, if you are going to home board a client’s pet there is stricter legislation, and additional insurance required.

Make sure you understand the key points of law covering the handling of dangerous dogs, clearing up excrement, controlling dogs near livestock, walking dogs in public spaces, the types of collars, leads and muzzles allowed, how to transport or cage animals, to name just a few.

Government official legislation is a good source of up to date information, but it is not always easy to understand.

The Kennel Club provides an overview, containing up to date legislation, which is a little bit more user-friendly.

Read More

This article is part of a series: 5 things to know before starting a dog walking business.

  1. Local Authorities
  2. UK Legislation
  3. DBS Check
  4. Qualifications
  5. Insurance

This is not legal advice but a guide to starting your pet sitting business within UK law. It does not apply to commercial cattery or kennels, where stricter regulations applicable and a licence is required. If outside the UK, legislation may vary (including Scotland and Northern Ireland.) so always check your local regulations. A license is required for home boarding of pets and additional insurance applies.

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