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Regulation of Rescue and
Rehoming Charities?

Rescue Charities to be Regulated ?...

Rescue Charities to be Regulated ?

In a Scottish Government poll in 2018, an overwhelming 98.3% of those asked this question said YES (you can read more about this here): Public Consultation and we are seeing a clear indication that DEFRA will pursue a legal framework to licence animal sanctuaries, rescue and rehoming centres: Action Plan for Animal Welfare – Point 7.

It has long been debated whether Animal Rescue Charities should be regulated in the same way that Animal Boarding establishments are and we are now seeing clear momentum gaining in favour of regulation.

How Did we get to this Point ?

How Did We Get To This Point ?

To explain what is happening now we need to look at the history of animal welfare reform:

Commercial animal boarding establishments have long had a clear framework to work within. The Animal Boarding Establishments Act was introduced in 1963 and set out the legal obligations that all boarding businesses would need to follow.

Fast forward 32 years and a much needed update to regulations was introduced…The CIEH Model Licence Conditions for Boarding Catteries and Kennels. Introduced in 1995. Of which we (Pedigree Pens Ltd.) were original sponsors.

It was the first clear attempt to harmonize guidance and standards across the UK and it was the standard by which all local authorities in England used to licence new catteries and kennels. The CIEH Model Licence was not, however a legal document, but was intended to help guide Local Authority’s on best practice and give them a framework for which they were to approve licenses. As there was no legal requirement to adhere to the guidance many local authorities differed in their approach to issuing licences. Some followed the guidance to the letter where as others used it much more loosely.

It is only recently that we have seen the guidance, first set out in the CIEH Model Licence Conditions, expanded upon and brought into law. This came about in 2018 with the introduction of The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 – Guidance notes for conditions for providing boarding (for cats / dogs)

The new guidance from DEFRA, which replaced the Model Licence, became not only guidance but a legal requirement for boarding establishments.

Since the introduction of the guidance from DEFRA this has prompted many rescue charities and organisations (that had outdated standards or did not have standards in place) to adopt similar criteria.

The Cats Protection, Blue Cross and RSPCA have had their own set of guidance (that new rescue facilities must adhere to) in place for many years and a lot of independent charities are members of The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), which has always looked to improve the welfare of animals. As of December 2020 the ADCH issued it’s members with new guidance in the form of it’s ‘Minimum Welfare & Operational Standards’. A copy of which can be downloaded here: Minimum Operational Welfare Standards.

Given the recent introduction of tighter regulations, higher standards for boarding establishments and the large number of rescue / rehoming charities that already adhere to strict standards it is no surprise that momentum is gaining for there to be a legal framework and tighter regulations of ALL rescue and rehoming charities.

DEFRA (in their own words) have already set out their intentions to: pursue the licensing of animal sanctuaries, rescue and rehoming centres including for cats, dogs and horses.” It is therefore only a matter of time before legislation is introduced.

If you haven’t done so already, then now is the time to start planning.

How Can Rescue Charities Prepare ?

How Can Rescue Charities Prepare 

Given what we already know, we expect the legislation to follow the similar minimum standards set out for boarding establishments. Many National Charities follow similar guidance so it would be wise to look at both the latest DEFRA guidance for Boarding Establishments and the guidance that larger charities and the ADCH issue.

Armed with this information you can see how your current procedures, accommodation and setup compares with the guidance and therefore what changes will need to be put in place for your rescue charity.

A Complex Issue...

A Complex Issue…

That said, it is a complex issue and one that is less straight-forward to address than the regulation of boarding establishments.

Boarding establishments are profit-making entities and more often than not have the resources and finance to upgrade existing facilities and procedures. Rescue charities on the other-hand rely on volunteers (paid and unpaid), donations, fund-raising and grants and have limited funds available. Being able to implement changes brought about by new regulations will likely be expensive and time-consuming.

A lot of charities rescue, care for and re-home high numbers of cats, dogs and rabbits and as such have lots of individual accommodation for the animals. Having lots of individual pens/kennels often comes at the expense of quality accommodation so many charities operate with older, less hygienic and smaller accommodation.

The difficulty faced by rescue charities is two fold…cost and available space. Under new regulations they will have to provide larger, more hygienic accommodation for animals.

Larger, newer accommodation will cost more and will also take up more space. If space and money are tight, you can see the predicament faced by many charities.

They will have to reduce the number of kennels/pens/hutches they have and consequently this will impact on the number of animals they can care for.

How Should New Regulations be Introduced ?

How Should New Regulations Be Introduced ?

Whilst many rescue charities and organisations (Cats Protection, RSPCA, Dogs Trust, ADCH and the Blue Cross, to name a few) already adopt their own codes of practice and minimum welfare standards, there are many smaller, independent charities that don’t.

A legal framework will offer a common minimum standard that ALL charities must adhere to. This will ultimately help to guarantee the welfare and care of any rescued animal, regardless of which charity is involved.

What is needed, however, is a sensible, pragmatic approach to introducing the new regulations. The last thing you want to do is to force hardworking, caring charities to close.

Rescue charities will need to be educated and supported financially over a number of months / years in order to help them achieve compliance with new regulations. Guidance needs to be issued well in advance of it becoming a legal requirement so that charities have time to assess the guidance and plan for the future. When charities are aware of what the new regulations are, they can assess their current accommodation provision and procedures, assess what impact the new regulations will have on their existing facilities, space, staff and finances and put a plan in place.

It will be challenging for many charities, especially having just come through a pandemic (!) but it is necessary.

As a country, we pride ourselves on how well we look after and care for animals and a new regulatory framework to improve the welfare of rescued animals can only be a positive step.

How We Can Help...

How We Can Help…

  • Call Us for an informal friendly chat or email us. Whether you would like to discuss regulations, design and planning or have a specific project in mind we’re here to help.
  • Visit Us. We have a show garden at our offices in Tewkesbury where you can view our pens and discuss your ideas and requirements with us.
  • Design and Planning. We can help you from your initial idea, through to design and assistance with planning permission.
  • Consultation and Survey. We offer initial consultations over the phone and via email, and where necessary, can attend site to carry out a full survey.
  • Adaptable. We can provide easy to install single foster pens to fully installed purpose built structures featuring Reception, Office and Kitchen spaces. Whether you need a purpose built all-in one building or components for an internal fit-out, we can help. Every job is different and in most cases we can adapt our system to suit specific requirements.
  • 100’s of Installations throughout the UK. If you would like to visit one of our many installations we would be happy to arrange a visit.
  • Knowledge. Expertise. Longevity. We pioneered the use of uPVC in animal housing in the 1990’s and pride ourselves not only in providing the highest standards of rescue accommodation but also in offering expertise, insight and guidance for our customers.

Large and Small…

We work with rescue charities both large and small throughout the UK, to ensure they not only have animal housing that is compliant but accommodation that will last them a lifetime. Our range of animal housing is hygienic, modern, high quality and represents exceptional value for money.

Case Studies of Charities We've Already Helped...

RSPCA Solent Branch – The Stubbington Ark

RSPCA Solent Branch – The Stubbington Ark

RSPCA Solent Branch - Hampshire

National Animal Welfare Trust, Bedfordshire

National Animal Welfare Trust, Bedfordshire

National Cat Rescue Facility in Bedfordshire

Margaret Green Animal Rescue, Tavistock

Margaret Green Animal Rescue, Tavistock

Cat Rescue Facility in Devon

Wood Green – The Snowden Cat Care Centre

Wood Green – The Snowden Cat Care Centre

Wood Green The Animal Charity - Cambridgeshire

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After testing the market and performing due diligence checks we selected to work with Pedigree Pens Ltd of Tewkesbury. We had heard good things about this company and I must say I found them very easy to work with. From the very beginning it felt like we were working in a partnership with them.

Andy HuntGoole and District RSPCA

It has been a year since our two penthouse Pedigree Pens arrived and they have made such a difference to our branch. Having used a wooden foster pen previously, I can personally say that the quality and reliability of this product is far superior and makes my job a lot easier. I am able to spend more time with the foster cats as there are no maintenance issues requiring my attention.

Elizabeth SangsterCats Protection Stonehaven

Thank you to all involved at Pedigree Pens for yet another very successful, high quality installation on our Tiverton cattery refurbishment project.

I knew from the outset that this project would create many design and installation challenges for you. However, you and your team overcame these to provide a superb quality product with a high-quality installation – thank you.

David KeyBlue Cross For Pets

Essential Reading...

ADCH - Guidance

Download a copy

Cattery Regulations

Find out about current boarding regulations

Planning Permission

We can help with planning permission and design

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