New star rating system for animal licences

Published Friday 24 August 2018

A new star rating system is being introduced as part of new animal licensing laws to help customers make a more informed choice and to protect the welfare of animals.

New Government legislation, being introduced from 1 October 2018, will see a star rating system brought in for businesses or individuals which are granted animal licences ranging from 1-5, with 5 being the maximum that can be achieved. The ratings will be publically available online and will determine how frequently the premises are inspected and how long the licence will last for, with 3 years being the maximum.

The new legislation applies to activities such as those involving the hiring out of horses for riding or for riding lessons, dog and cat boarding (including home and day boarding of dogs), dog breeding, and the selling of animals as pets.

It will also impact on the sale of puppies by dog breeders. Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, those selling puppies will be classed as a breeder and will require a licence, if:

  • They breed three or more litters in any 12 month period or,
  • They breed dogs and advertise a business of selling dogs or,
  • They make a profit on the sale of puppies that they have bred (even if this is only once)

The new regulations also ban the breeding of dogs whose state of health, genetic make-up (genotype) and/or physical characteristics (phenotype) would be damaging to its own health or the health of its offspring.

Under the new regulations, anyone involved in the keeping or training of animals for exhibition now needs to register with Harborough District Council – this includes activities such as pony parties and mobile petting zoos etc.

Find out more and view the statutory guidance for each activity on Harborough District Council’s website at