Why is our licence and four-star rating so important?
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
You might have noticed that we are very proud of achieving our Dog Daycare Licence and four-star rating, and you might be wondering why this is such a big deal.
Some radical and important changes were made to the regulatory framework for animal care businesses late last year. Existing dog daycares have a one year grace period to get their new licence. So Dog Stories is one of the first dog daycares in the country to have undergone the new rigorous assessment and to be awarded a new, two-year licence and also a four-star rating for our higher standards.
If you'd like to know what that means, then please do read on.
New regulations and licences
On 1st October 2018, new licensing regulations for dog daycare, known as the Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018 (AAL), came into force in England. Until the implementation of these new regulations, there was inconsistency in licensing for dog daycares across England, with many areas, including London and some of the home counties, not requiring dog daycare providers to have a licence, meaning that some dog businesses went largely unregulated. The new guidelines were therefore introduced to standardise the way that dog daycares are regulated and licensed across England.
The new licence specifies the maximum number of dogs allowed at an individual dog daycare, based on the size and layout of the daycare, the type of dogs, the qualifications and experience of staff, and the ratio of staff to dogs. It also sets out a star rating which is based on the welfare standards and perceived risks for the daycare.
How does a dog daycare get the new licence?
There is a wide range of complex requirements that a dog daycare must achieve before they can get the new licence, and daycare centres are subject to inspection before and after they have acquired their licence to ensure that the standards are being met. I've summarised some of these below.
Staff training: Staff must be have at least an OFQUAL regulated level 2 qualification, or demonstrable equivalent experience, in a relevant subject. Dogs must be supervised at all times.
Dog daycare environment: The regulations stipulate the nature of interior surfaces, the requirement for at least two physical barriers between a dog and a means of exiting the daycare, suitable drainage in outdoor exercise areas, the necessary opportunities to toilet, and that it must be possible to clean and disinfect any internal furnishings.
Using crates: A dog should not be secured in a crate for longer than one hour in any 8-hour period.
Isolation: Provision must be made for the isolation of sick, injured or infectious dogs
Intact Dogs: Un-neutered males and females in season must be kept completely separate, including sound, sight and where possible smell.
Puppies: Puppies under one year of age should be in a separate puppy group, unless permission is granted by the owner for them to mix with adult dogs.
Screening: All dogs must be screened before attending daycare to ensure that they are not afraid, anxious or stressed with other dogs or people and do not pose a danger to other dogs or staff. We need to keep a record of the screening procedure for each individual dog.
Policies: Policies for Staff training, Emergencies, including extremes of temperature, contingency plans for emergency transport, preventative health care, accommodating the needs of puppies under one year and cleaning & disinfection procedure must be created and will be inspected.
Registers: Registers must be kept for each dog, including, arrival and departure dates, name, age, sex, neuter status, microchip number, description or breed; contact details for owner, usual vet, insurer, emergency contact; medical and behavioural history, diet and related requirements; date of most recent vaccination, worming and flea treatments; details of any medical treatment or exercise limitations.
So, it might seem like we ask you for a lot of information before your dog starts at out daycare, but it will help us take the very best care of your dog, and it means we are delivering dog daycare of the highest standards.
Star/Risk Rating System: To achieve a 4 or 5 star rating, dog daycares must also have one staff member for every six dogs, provide a design and layout that provides dogs with choice and separate areas for different activities (like our doggy treehouses, sleep pods, agility equipment, grassy and gravel areas). Plus, an alternative form of enrichment must be planned for dogs which cannot be exercised for veterinary reasons.
In addition, daycares must have two of the following: a member of staff with a relevant accredited level 2 qualification or equivalent at the daycare each day, ventilation to ensure appropriate temperatures are maintained in all weathers, or, dogs must receive beneficial human interactions throughout the day and these must be documented.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into getting the licence, and we intend to go above and beyond the regulations to provide you and your dog with the very best daycare experience, each and every day.