New kennels rules are a dog's breakfast says boss
Kennel and cattery businesses are being bashed by ill-thought out new animal welfare legislation drafted by people with no practical experience of looking after dogs and cats, according to a Shropshire boss.
Su Carlin of Sunnymead Kennels and Cattery at Walcot, near Telford, said the legislation was sneaked out without warning.
"It's having a huge impact on the kennel and cattery sector nationally. We know of several that have closed down, although I don't know of any around here.
"Some who are perhaps a single person getting elderly with retirement on the horizon are taking the attitude that they can't be bothered with all the extra hassle.
"The guidance appears to have been written by people who have had no hands-on experience with the practical side of kennels and catteries.
"Kennels and catteries which have been licensed with no problems for many years are suddenly being told that the sizes of the cat and dog accommodation don't comply with the new legislation, which is very prescriptive about the size of sleeping areas, the size of runs, and how they are heated.
"Previous legislation on new sizes has only been applicable to new builds, but if you already have a kennel or cattery you can't suddenly make it bigger."
Instead of being given time to comply as in the past, the new standards were instantaneous.
She said a kennel suitable for a Chihuahua now had to be suitable for something like a Great Dane.
"If we started trying to alter sizes it would involve planning permission, which I doubt very much we would get, and I doubt we would get the bank loan to demolish and rebuild. We are talking about a substantial amount of money, probably about £200,000."
And under a new star rating, the "good" star ratings were 1, 3, and 5, and the "bad" ratings were 2 and 4.
"It's very confusing."
Su is a director of the Licensed Kennel & Cattery Association and has written to Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard outlining the association's concerns. The group is also taking things up with the government.
"We are hoping it will be reviewed and there will be some grandfather rights implemented. That means if you were previously licensed with no problems recorded, then you are automatically eligible for a licence under the new system and are given time to conform."
Su said Sunnymead had been in business in one form or another for around 50 years under several owners and incarnations, and she and husband Alan Baguley were in their 15th year there.
It is licensed for 60 cats and 60 dogs, giving pets boarding and exercise facilities – but at the moment houses a single dog.
"We are suffering very badly from the effects of Brexit. It's put the jitters up local people. They don't want to plan their holidays, or don't know what they're doing. We have had this before when there have been elections and other upsets."