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Pet Animals Act 1951


Pet Shop Conditions

Licence display

This Licence, or a copy of this Licence, should be displayed to the public in a prominent position.


Animals must at all times be kept in accommodation and environment suitable to their species with respect to situation, size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness and not exposed to draughts. All accommodation must be kept in good repair.

If animals are displayed outdoors, they must have protection appropriate to their species.

Housing must be constructed of non-porous materials or be appropriately treated.

In order to control the spread of disease and to prevent injury, animals must not be kept in housing in such a way that they can be disturbed by other animals or by the public.

All livestock for sale must be readily accessible and easy to inspect, with cages sited so that the floor of the cage is readily visible.

Accommodation must be cleaned as often as necessary to maintain good hygiene standards.

Where accommodation is on a tiered system, water, food or other droppings must not be allowed to enter the lower housing.

All accessories provided in the accommodation must be suitable for the species.

Note: When designing accommodation, consideration should be given to using systems which would allow removal of the animals in case of emergency. This provision would not usually apply to aquariums and ponds.

Exercise facilities

Suitable and sufficient facilities must be available where appropriate.

Note: For puppies, where required, a covered exercise area of at least 2.46 sq m (26 sq ft) should be provided. Exercise areas should have a minimum height of 1.8m (6ft) to facilitate adequate access by staff for cleaning.

Register of animals

A livestock purchase register must be maintained for all livestock. A sales register must be maintained for: puppies; kittens; psittacines; species contained in the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (as modified).

Note: This can be by cross-referenced to an invoice file. The purpose of the register is to ascertain the source of livestock and for emergency contact of purchaser. The name, address and telephone number of the purchaser should be obtained.

Stocking numbers and densities

The maximum numbers of animals to be stocked on the premises will be governed by the accommodation available, as stated in the stocking density lists detailed in the schedules to these Licence conditions. No animal other than those specified in the licence may be stocked without prior written approval from the licensing authority. These stocking densities are provided for guidance and recommendation only.

Health, disease and acclimatisation

All stock for sale must be in good health and free from obvious parasitic infestation as far as can be reasonably determined without veterinary inspection.

Any sick or injured animal must receive appropriate care and treatment without delay. Inexperienced staff must not treat sick animals unless under appropriately experienced supervision.

Note: "Care and treatment" may include euthanasia but under no circumstances may an animal be euthanized other than in a humane and effective manner. In case of doubt, veterinary advice must be sought.

Facilities must be provided to isolate sick animals.

Note: For ornamental fish, in-line UV treatment or other sterilising devices effectively provide a means of isolating individual tanks in multiple tank systems. They must be of a proper size and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

All animals must receive appropriate inoculation where required for the species, as advised by the veterinary surgeon. Veterinary advice must be sought whenever necessary.

Any animal with an obvious, significant abnormality which would materially affect its quality of life, must not be offered for sale. When in doubt, veterinary advice should be sought.

All animals must be allowed a suitable acclimatisation period before sale.

All reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease. No animal which is suffering from, or could reasonably be suspected of having come into contact with any other animal suffering from, any infectious or contagious disease, or which is infested with parasites, shall be brought into or kept on the premises unless effectively isolated.

Individual litters of puppies and kittens must be kept separate from other litters.

All necessary precautions must be taken to prevent harbourage, or in the introduction to the premises of rodents, insects and other pests.

Food and drink

Animals must be supplied with adequate amounts of food and drink, appropriate to their needs and at suitable intervals.

All food must be suitable for the species concerned.

Food and drink receptacles must be constructed and positioned to minimise faecal contamination and spillage.

A suitable and sufficient number of receptacles must be provided and cleaned at regular intervals.

Food storage

All food, excluding live foods intended for feeding to livestock on the premises, must be stored in impervious closed containers.

The containers and equipment used for feeding must be kept in a clean and sound condition.


All livestock must be attended to at regular intervals, at least once daily, appropriate to the species. It is recommended that a system of recording observation is maintained.

Excreta and soiled bedding

All excreta and soiled bedding must be kept in a hygienic manner and stored in impervious containers with close-fitting lids - away from direct sunlight.

Excreta and soiled bedding must be removed from the premises on a regular basis, at least weekly disposed of to the satisfaction of the appropriate local authority and in accordance with current regulations and good waste management practice.

All containers must be kept in a clean condition.


When receiving stock, the licensee must make every effort to ensure that it is transported in a suitable manner. It is advisable (recommended) to record the registration number of vehicles transporting livestock.
Any livestock received or consigned shall be transported according to the regulations laid down in current legislation, such as the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997.

Note: For air transportation, the IATA live animals regulations must be followed, as a minimum legal standard.

Transportation containers

Livestock must be transported or handed to purchasers in suitable containers.

Sale of livestock

No mammal shall be sold unweaned or, if weaned, at an age at which it should not have been weaned.

In the case of non-mammals, they must be capable of feeding themselves.

Dangerous wild animals

When dangerous wild animals are kept, the cages must be of a secure construction, appropriate to the species. A fine wire mesh, glass or plastic safety barrier must be incorporated into the cage system.

The local authority should be notified in the vent that the pet shop wishes to offer for sale, for the first time, any animal on the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. Although it is acknowledged that there is an exemption contained within the Act in relation to per shops, it is recommended that consideration should be given to complying with any special requirement(s) specified in the Act for the safe accommodation or care of the animal.

Licensees selling animals on the Schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act should inspect the purchaser's Licence to keep such an animal and inform the issuing authority of the details of the purchase.

Pet care advice

Pet care leaflets or other similar written instructions must be made available to customers free of charge at the time of purchase, in addition to any offer to purchase pet care books or leaflets.

Purchasers must be given proper advice on the care of the animal and, where necessary, on the maintenance and use of any accessories.

Staff training and livestock knowledge

No animal should be stocked or sold unless the staff (or at least one member of the staff) is familiar with the care and welfare of the animals stocked and has a recognised qualification or suitable experience.

In respect of new applications (not renewals) at least one member of staff working at the licensed premises must hold the City and Guilds Pet Store Management Certificate, or some other appropriate qualification, or must be in the course of training and obtain the qualification within two years of the Licence being granted.

The licensee must formulate a written training policy for all permanent staff and will be required to demonstrate that systematic training is carried out.

Fire and other emergency precautions

Suitable emergency precautions and written procedures must exist and be made known to all staff, including arrangements for evacuation of livestock.

Note: The general maxim of "people first" is good advice.

Entrances and exits must be clear of obstructions at all times.

Suitable fire fighting equipment must be provided, maintained, regularly serviced and sited as advised by the local Fire Protection/Prevention Officer and in consultation with the local authority.

The licensee, or a designated key holder, must at all times be within reasonable distance of the premises and available to visit the premises in case of emergency.

Note: A reasonable distance would, in normal conditions, be interpreted as no more than 20 minutes travelling time.

A list of key holders must be lodged with the local police and with the local authority.

In the interests of animal welfare, the following notice must be displayed at the front of the shop: "In case of an emergency, dial 999". The number of the local police station should also be displayed.

When pet shops are sited within other premises, the licensee or keyholders must have access at all times to the premises containing the livestock.

All electrical installations and appliances must be maintained in a safe condition.

Note: It is strongly recommended that smoke and residual current detectors or other similar devices are installed.

Schedule 1: Stocking densities - cage birds

No species of bird shall be housed in accommodation which does not afford that species sufficient space for natural free and full wing stretching and the number of birds housed shall be such that overcrowding does not significantly reduce that freedom. Long tailed birds or birds in full plumage must be provided with properly placed perches and feeding and watering points to prevent that plumage being fouled or otherwise damaged.

Note: This refers to the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which should not contravened, particularly Section 8 of that Act.

For perching birds, a sufficient number of perches (as appropriate) must be provided at such a height that the bird can rest its head without its head touching the top and its tail the bottom of the cage.

A quality padded net should be used when catching birds in an aviary.

Minimum floor areas apply to young stock. For adult stock offered for sale, the dimensions should be doubled. For advice on the age of stock, it is advisable to contact the veterinary surgeon.

Schedule 2: Stocking densities - juvenile small mammals

Guinea pigs

1-4 animals 1,350sq cm
5 animals 1,570sq cm
6 animals 1,800sq cm
7 animals 2,020sq cm
8 animals 2,250sq cm
9 animals 2,470sq cm
10 animals 2,700sq cm
Minimum cage height 30cm
Minimum cage depth 30cm

Mice, hamsters, gerbils

1-4 animals 450sq cm
5 animals 525sq cm
6 animals 600sq cm
7 animals 675sq cm
8 animals 750sq cm
9 animals 825sq cm
10 animals 900sq cm
Minimum cage height 25cm
Minimum cage depth 25cm

Puppies up to age of 12 weeks maximum

1-4 animals 10,000sq cm
5 animals 12,500sq cm
6 animals 15,000sq cm
7 animals 17,500sq cm
8 animals 20,000sq cm
9 animals 22,500sq cm
10 animals 25,000sq cm
Minimum cage height Double height at shoulder minimum 50cm
Minimum cage depth 0.9m

Rabbits up to 2kg, kittens, ferrets, chinchillas, chipmunks

1-4 animals 2,250sq cm
5 animals 2,625sq cm
6 animals 3,000sq cm
7 animals 3,375sq cm
8 animals 3,750sq cm
9 animals 4,125sq cm
10 animals 4,500sq cm
Minimum cage height 40cm
Minimum cage depth 30cm


1-4 animals 675sq cm
5 animals 785sq cm
6 animals 900sq cm
7 animals 1,010sq cm
8 animals 1,125sq cm
9 animals 1,235sq cm
10 animals 1,350sq cm
Minimum cage height 30cm
Minimum cage depth 30cm

The range of behavioural opportunities for many of the animals listed above will be increased by enriching the environment with accessories.

Raised shelving should be taken into consideration when assessing the total floor area.

Temporary (up to six days) re-housing of adult rabbits in smaller cages than specified above should be considered as acceptable.

The above recommended stocking densities are insufficient for the housing of marmosets. Marmosets must be housed in cages sufficiently large enough to allow for natural movement, such as climbing and swinging.

Schedule 3: Stocking densities - ornamental fish

It is virtually impossible to determine the quantity of fish to be kept in a tank purely on a weight/volume ratio.

The variation in system design, husbandry techniques and types of fish involved would render any such method too simple to be useful or too complicated to be practical.

The maintenance of water quality standards is essential and is a simple but effective way to determine stocking densities. Water quality testing should be carried out at least once a week in centralised systems and 10% of individual tanks should likewise be tested. Unsatisfactory test results must be recorded in a register, together with the corrective action taken. Further tests must be carried out when visual inspection of the tanks indicates the need.

Water Quality Criteria (1mg/litre - 1ppm)

Cold water

Dissolved oxygen* -min 6mg/litre
Free ammonia* -max 0.02mg/litre
Nitrite -max 0.2mg/litre
Nitrate -max 50mg/litre above ambient tap water

Tropical fish

Dissolved oxygen* -min 6mg/litre
Free ammonia* -max 0.02mg/litre
Nitrite -max 0.2mg/litre
Nitrate -max 50mg/litre above ambient tap water

Tropical marine species

Dissolved oxygen* -min 5.5mg/litre
Free ammonia* -max 0.01mg/litre
Nitrite -max 0.125mg/litre
Nitrate -max 40mg/litre. This is an absolute figure: it does not relate to ambient tap water
pH (tropical marine only)* -min 8.1

These parameters should be checked first. Only if a problem exists with these tests is it necessary to check nitrite and nitrate levels.

Further advice and guidance on water quality criteria can be obtained from the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association.