Licensing of activities involving animals: consultation

We are seeking views on proposals to extend licensing to currently unlicensed animal-related services and update the licensing framework for other currently licensed animal-related services.

Part 1 About this consultation

This consultation seeks views on proposals to introduce new licensing regulations in Scotland covering the following activities when carried on in the course of a business—

  • dog walking,
  • dog grooming,
  • providing livery services,
  • offering canine fertility services.

The consultation also seeks views on proposals to licence greyhound racing in Scotland, and replace existing legislation covering animal boarding (including day care) and riding establishments, replacing it with updated licensing requirements. The legislation we propose to replace is as follows—

  • Riding Establishments Act 1964,
  • Riding Establishments Act 1970,
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.

The rationale for the proposals set out in this document is to enhance and protect animal welfare through the introduction of a statutory licensing scheme which will set minimum standards that all licence holders must comply with. Licensing will ensure that individuals offering such services are—

  • subject to appropriate checks before being granted a licence,
  • subject to periodic inspection by local authorities,
  • suitably experienced and/or qualified to deliver the services offered,
  • operating to defined statutory standards,
  • accountable when licence conditions are breached or animal welfare is compromised,
  • listed on a publicly available register (held and maintained by the licensing body) to reassure the public that persons offering a particular service are properly licensed.

It is anticipated that any new licensing requirements would be introduced through the same framework as used in the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 ( This framework currently requires persons engaging in the following activities to be licensed (subject to meeting certain criteria)—

  • dog, cat or rabbit breeding,
  • pet selling,
  • operating an animal welfare establishment (including sanctuaries and rehoming centres),
  • engaging in other animal rehoming activities (other than operating an animal welfare establishment).

Geographical extent

Animal welfare is a devolved matter. The proposals outlined in this consultation paper may only apply to activities that take place in Scotland.


Anyone can reply to this consultation. The Scottish Government particularly encourages responses from individuals and businesses already offering the services covered by this consultation and from representative member bodies, animal welfare organisations, local authorities and veterinary professionals.


The consultation will be open for responses for 12 weeks. The relevant dates are:

Start date: 4 July 2023

Closing date: 26 September 2023

How to make an enquiry about this consultation

If you have any queries about this consultation please contact the Scottish Government's Animal Welfare Team at:

Responding to this consultation paper

Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation hub: "Citizen Space". You can access and respond to this consultation at Licensing of activities involving animals.

You can save and return to your response while the consultation remains open. Please ensure that your consultation response is submitted via Citizen Space before the closing date of 26 September 2023.

If you are unable to submit your response through our consultation hub, then please submit it along with a completed Respondent Information Form (which has been published alongside this consultation paper) to:

Animal Licensing Consultation
Animal Welfare Team
The Scottish Government
P Spur
Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
EH11 3XD

Please do try to reply using the Citizen Space hub as it makes administration of consultations considerably easier.

We appreciate that many respondees will only have an interest in one particular part of this consultation and may therefore only wish to respond to the section of relevance. Where this is the case you should complete the section of interest using Citizen Space or, alternatively, complete the consultation questionnaire and return it to the address above along with the Respondee Information Form.

Please try to answer all the questions; however if you are unable to answer any particular question then please feel free to move on to the next. Please note that you will be asked to explain the reasons for your answer as appropriate in the space provided in the questionnaire on Citizen Space.

When answering the consultation questions, we ask that you take into consideration the information provided in this document alongside your own relevant knowledge or personal experience. All opinions are welcome.

Handling your response

If you respond using Citizen Space, you will be directed to the About You page before submitting your response. Please indicate on the Respondee Information Form how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

To find out how we handle your personal data, please see our privacy policy.

Next steps in the process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made publicly available at Scottish Government consultations. If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

When the consultation closes all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence including any recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs and Islands Committee in respect to greyhound racing in Scotland, to help us decide on whether to progress our proposals. Responses will be published where permission to do so has been given. A consultation summary report will also be published that will include an anonymised analysis of the responses received and set out the next steps.

Scottish Government consultation process

Consultation is an essential part of the policy making process. It gives you the opportunity to have your say on what we do or propose to do and it gives us valuable insight, perspective, and evidence that in turn informs and shapes what we do.

All Scottish Government consultations are available online.

Consultation responses received are analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We publish a report for every consultation we undertake. Depending on the nature of the consultation undertaken, the responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review,
  • inform the development of a particular policy,
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals,
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented.

While the details of individual circumstances described in a response to a consultation may usefully inform the policy process, public consultations cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant body as appropriate.



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