Home dog boarders being forced out of business by ‘barking mad’ regulations
They are considered to be a man’s best friend, so it is little surprise that when dog owners have to leave their pets they want them to still have all the home comforts that they are accustomed to.
But the thriving industry that provides this in the form of home daycare and boarding for dogs is now under threat because of new legislation which has been described as “barking mad”.
New restrictions including each dog having to have its own room and a huge increase in fees for licences mean that some businesses are being forced to close down whilst others are losing a large proportion of their income.
In turn, the owners who depend on the facilities could be left with nowhere to go.
Suzi Harris spent £25,000 adapting her Hampshire home before she opened Just-Like-Home Doggy Daycare & Boarding in June 2017, and the new regulations mean that she will lose a third of her income.
She said: “It is absolutely soul destroying. I am going to be sort of OK, but others won’t be and this is affecting hundreds of people across the country.”
Ms Harris has been lobbying Defra for a change since the rules were introduced alongside Marie Worthington, who runs Oscar’s Pals from her Berkshire home.
“I think that I am going to be OK, but you just don’t know until the inspector comes around,” she said. “There are just so many people who still haven’t heard anything and don’t know what will happen to their businesses.”
Ms Worthington, whose petition for change has received almost 19,000 signatures, said that the one room per dog rule penalised those with open plan houses and meant the business was determined by layout rather than space, experience or skill.
Each boarding dog could be worth up to £7,000 a year, which could be “the difference between a small business being viable or not”, Ms Worthington said.
Conservatories, garages and outbuildings cannot be counted as a room for a dog.
As a result of this one business owner, Helen Stead, who had a licence to house six pets in The Doghouse – a specially converted heated outhouse at her Shropshire home -has been forced to close down.
Despite being described as the the “crème de la crème” of boarding last year, the new rules mean that she can only get a licence for one dog and her business is not viable.
People have also been barred because they share communal hallways with neighbours and other are struggling to install gates to ensure they comply with having two secure barriers to prevent the dog escaping.