Advice for pet services businesses during the COVID-19 (coronavirus)

The changing nature of the coronavirus outbreak has meant that advice, guidance and the duty on individuals and businesses to help reduce the spread of the disease has been changing quickly. Below is a short guide to provide you answers to FAQ's and links to relevant information.

Unless otherwise stated references in these FAQ's refer to The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

At all times, consideration MUST be given to the latest public health advice released by Government and guidance relating to business closures issued by OPSS. The Government has issued general guidance on social distancing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

PHE have issued industry specific guidance on social distancing in workplace: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

 

Can an animal breeder continue with their business?

Yes, as most breeders will not be offering animals for sale via a shop, they can continue in business at this time as they will not be covered by the specific requirements restricting retail sale. (Regulation 5)

However, a purchaser's journey, whose primary purpose is to collect an animal from a breeder is not permitted during the emergency period. (Regulation 6 and the restrictions on movement). Dog breeders can however deliver any puppies or kittens that they are selling to the buyers directly as they are permitted to travel for the purposes of work. (Regulation 6 (2) (f) & 5(1)(a).

Where a breeder undertakes delivery journeys they will need to comply with welfare requirements in the Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation 1/2005 and if over 40 miles (65km) authorisation should be sought from APHA's Welfare of Animals in Transport Team (WIT): Apply for a UK Animal Transporter Authorisation.

From 1st April a new law prohibits the sale of kittens and puppies from third party sellers and pet shops. Also, the mother must now be seen with a kitten or a puppy at the point of sale. To avoid potential welfare problems with the sale of these animals from breeders during the emergency response and the need for social distancing, it is suggested that video footage is shared by the breeder of the offspring with their mother prior to the sale. (The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, as amended).

As all the current restrictions may create a surplus of animals that cannot be homed during this time, it is suggested that all breeders should consider the necessity to continue with their breeding programme over the next 6 months, where they have a more limited opportunity to sell animals. The owners of the animals will always have a duty of care and legal responsibility under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for the welfare of their animals and they should take appropriate steps to cease trade if it is they cannot maintain the welfare needs of any animal under their control.

 

Can pet animals be collected from a pet shop?

Pet shops may continue to be open to the public. However, it is considered that any journey where the primary purpose is solely for the purchase of a pet animal would be a breach of the movement restrictions, as it is not essential travel. If the primary purpose for attending the pet shop is to buy food for pet animals, then this would be deemed as acceptable. (Schedule 2, Part 3, Para 38)

 

I run a livery stable, can a person attend to and ride their horse?

They can attend to their horse, as it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards to Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and as such, this is permitted in accordance with Regulation 6 (2) (h). They can also ride their horse, subject to this being part of the daily exercise referred to in Regulation 6 (2) (b).

 

Can home boarders exceed their licence to care for animals of key workers?

It is considered that this is a matter to be determined by your local district council licensing team. Their decision may be based upon prior history of the business and their level of previous compliance. There is a need to be mindful of the welfare implications to the animals under the charge of the home boarder and home boarders should prioritise the care of those animals who belong to key workers should this become an issue. Where a home boarder is not able to sufficiently protect the interest of the animals under their charge, alternative care arrangements must be sourced.

 

Can a rescue centre still rehome animals?

Yes. It is considered that a rescue centre, regardless of whether it is a registered charity, is still operating as a business, albeit in the rehoming of animals.

With regards to the movement restrictions, it is considered that they can deliver any animals that they are rehoming, as they are permitted to travel for the purposes of work. (Regulation 6 (2) (f) in the spirit of the principals of Regulation 5 (1) (a)). Where rehoming centres undertake delivery journeys they will need to comply with requirements in Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation1/2005 and if over 40 miles (65km) authorisation should be sought from APHA's Welfare of Animals in Transport Team: Apply for a UK Animal Transporter Authorisation.

It is advised that any required home inspection is evidenced through video footage provided to the rescue centre, rather than a home visit and no person should be visiting a rescue centre to choose a new pet for re-homing as this movement could be in breach or regulation 6 and the restrictions on movement.

 

Can dog groomers still operate?

Yes. The business is not subject to the closure restrictions in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. (see references below)

It is considered that dog groomers can collect and deliver any animals that are being taken to a salon for grooming. A dog groomer is not listed as a business in Schedule 2 and so are permitted to travel for the purposes of work. (Regulation 6 (2) (f) and Regulation 5 (1) (a)).

Where a dog groomer undertakes transportation, they will need to comply with welfare requirements in Welfare of Animals in Transport EU Regulation1/2005 and if it is over 40 miles (65km) authorisation should be sought from APHA's Welfare of Animals in Transport Team (WIT): Apply for a UK Animal Transporter Authorisation.

It is not permitted for a person to take their dog to a groomer by vehicle, however they may be able to walk to it as part of their daily exercise.

Likewise, dog groomers that are based in pet shops can also continue to operate, however travel by consumers for this service would not be permitted if the primary purpose is purely for the use of the dog grooming service.

Mobile dog grooming is also considered eligible to continue to trade subject to them following public health advice regarding social distancing. This journey would be permitted for the purposes of work. (Regulation 6 (2) (f)).

 

Can Dog Walking Services be Provided?

Yes, subject to public health rules being maintained, including social distancing, dog walking services may still be provided. For further guidance: www.gov.uk/coronavirus/people-with-animals.

 

Can a person that does not require a licence for breeding have people collect puppies or deliver them?

No, as this is not a licensed breeder, it has been considered that this is not for the purpose of work and therefore transportation would not be permitted. (Reg 6)

 

Can a professional dog walker drive to exercise their dog?

Where a professional dog walker undertakes a journey to exercise dogs as part of their work and drives to a location for this exercise and there is no alternative way in which the dogs could be exercised, this may be considered a reasonable excuse as the travel is for the purpose of work and it is not possible for the person to provide that service from where they are living. (Regulation 6 (2))

 

For further guidance and advice on any of the above you can contact the Hertfordshire Trading Standards Business Advice Line: 01707 281401 open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, email: trading.standards@hertfordshire.gov.uk. Or contact your local district council Environmental Health team on 01707 357242 or email: e.health@welhat.gov.uk