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Notes to keepers of pet shops

If you are thinking of applying for a pet shop licence you should read this guidance so you know how licensing works and what is expected of you as the keeper of the pet shop.

The Pet Animals Act 1951 forbids the keeping of a pet shop except under a licence granted by the local authority.

For the purposes of this Act the term "pet shop" means the carrying on at any premises (including a private dwelling) of a business of selling animals as pets.

Licensing of pet shops

Under the Act application for such a licence must be made to the local authority. A licence to keep a pet shop, renewable annually, may be granted by the local authority to any person not previously disqualified under the Act.

The local authority must satisfy itself that certain statutory minimum conditions are in fulfilled by the establishment.

In addition the local authority is empowered to withhold a licence on "other grounds" at its discretion.

A fee will be charged where a licence is granted. A licence will expire under normal conditions at the end of the year to which it relates.

The local authority's duty

In determining whether to grant a licence a local authority must have regard to the need for securing:

  • that animals will be adequately supplied with suitable food and drink and (so far as necessary) visited at suitable intervals
  • that animals will at all times be kept in accommodation suitable as respects size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
  • that animals, being mammals, will not be sold at too early an age
  • that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread among animals of infectious diseases
  • that owners provide safety precautions against the fire and other emergencies

The licence must specify such licence conditions as will ensure that the above named objects are secured.

The applicant's right of appeal against refusal

The licensee or prospective licensee aggrieved by the refusal of the local authority to grant such a licence, or by any condition subject to which such a licence is proposed to be granted, may appeal to a Magistrates Court; and the court may on such an appeal give such directions with respect to the issue of a licence, or as the case may be, with respect to the conditions subject to which a licence is to be granted as it thinks proper.

Offences against the Act

The Act provides for the following offences:

  • keeping a pet shop without a licence
  • contravening or failing to comply with any of the conditions of the licence
  • obstructing or delaying any person in the exercise of his powers of entry or inspection
  • the selling of animals as pets as a business in any part of a street or public place or at a stall or barrow in the market
  • the selling of an animal as a pet to a person who is under 12 years of age

Inspection of pet shops

The local authority is given power under the Act to authorise any of its officers or any veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner to inspect any premises in their area for which a licence has been granted under the Act and which is still in force. Such a person, on production of their authority if so required, has statutory right to enter the premises at all reasonable times for the following purposes:

  • to inspect the premises
  • to inspect any animals on the premises
  • to ascertain whether any offence has been or is being committed on the premises.
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