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Regulated businesses


Pet shops

England and Wales, Scotland

Keeping of a pet shop

No person may keep a pet shop unless he is licensed so to do by the local authority [Pet Animals Act 1951].

Pet shop definition

The keeping of a pet shop means the carrying on at premises of any nature, including a private dwelling, of a business of selling animals as pets, and the keeping of animals in any such premises with a view to their being sold in the course of such a business, whether by the keeper or any other person [Pet Animals Act 1951 s 7(1)].


A person is not, however, deemed to keep a pet shop by reason only of his keeping or selling pedigree animals bred by him or the offspring of an animal kept by him as a pet.

A local authority may direct that a particular breeder is not to be deemed to keep a pet shop merely because he sells as pets animals which he acquired for breeding or show purposes but found not to be suitable or required for such use [Pet Animals Act 1951 s 7(1) proviso].

Where an organiser of an event provides facilities to enable a trader to carry on the business of selling animals as pets, the mere provision of those facilities of itself does not have the consequence that the organiser is the keeper of a pet shop nor of itself does it have the consequence that the trader is not the keeper of a pet shop at the event::

R (on the application of Haynes) v Stafford Borough Council [2006] EWHC 1366 (Admin)

Definition of animal

"Animal" includes any description of vertebrate, and 'pedigree animal' means any animal which is by its breeding eligible for registration with a recognised club or society keeping a register of that description of animal [PAA: s 7(3)].

Grant of licences

In deciding whether to grant a licence the authority must have regard in particular to the need for securing that animals will be kept in suitable accommodation; that they will be adequately supplied with food and drink and, so far as necessary, visited; that, if mammals, they will not be sold at too early an age; and that reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to guard against fire or other emergency; and the authority must specify in any licences granted such conditions as appear to it necessary or expedient to secure these objects.

Tacit consent: it appears that the authorities consider that tacit consent does not apply.
An appeal lies to a magistrates' court against the refusal of a licence, or against any condition subject to which it is proposed to be granted.

How to apply for a licence

Go to Pet shop licence (England, Scotland, Wales)

Street selling: carrying on a business of selling animals as pets in any part of a street or public place, or at a stall or barrow in a market, is an offence.

Sales to children: selling an animal to a person whom the seller has reasonable cause to believe to be under the age of 16 years is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, subject to certain defences.


Contravention of the PAA is generally an offence punishable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

Northern Ireland

Similar legislation applies in Northern Ireland.

For further information, visit Pet shop licence (Northern Ireland)

[Page updated: 08/04/2018]


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