Cherwell District Council encouraged owners of pet shops, boarding facilities and animal training businesses to ensure they were correctly licensed by today, October 1.
The changes will allow people buying pets or sending them to boarding services to more easily check that they are using legitimate businesses that care for the animals appropriately. The new licences will display ratings from one to five stars.
The legislation also shapes how residents and local businesses will buy and sell pets, use daycare or animal boarding services and keep and train animals for exhibitions.
Anyone selling pets, and dog breeders operating as a business or breeding more than three litters a year will need to apply for a licence.
Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “We are a district of animal lovers and we like to think we have bought our pets from other animal lovers and that kennels and catteries are also run by people who love animals, but sadly this is not always the case.
“These unscrupulous businesses keep pets-for-sale and pets-in-care in dirty, unsanitary or confined conditions. This new legislation, with its five-star rating system, will empower the consumer to avoid the unscrupulous traders and allow us to do more for the animals.
He added: “It lets us better monitor animal welfare by holding pet businesses to account, and if necessary, put conditions on their licences, suspend or revoke them. I am sure pet businesses will embrace the new licensing regime because it will help create further trust with their customers. I urge any business people working with animals to go online and get licensed.”
The Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 introduce greater transparency in the pet industry. Adverts selling pets must: include the retailer’s licence number; state the licensing authority; include a photo of the pet and its age; state its country or countries of origin and residence.
It also introduces new training requirements for both businesses and inspectors. Businesses which previously registered a performing animal with the county council will now need to apply to the district council for a licence.
People can check whether companies are licensed to care for or trade animals on the council website.
If they have not done so businesses should also visit the site to apply for their licence.