Some pet businesses are easier to set up than others. For example: starting a dog walking, dog sitting or dog grooming service does not normally require you to obtain any kind of license or certification beforehand. However, many states do provide related courses which may be beneficial and make you appear more professional to your potential customers if you are licensed or certified. Other businesses that deal with pets such as pet stores and the production of pet food or pet treats are subject to very strict licensing laws and regulations which apply to many different aspects of the business. In all cases it is best to consult with your local state authority to find out exactly what the legal requirements are for the type of business you are thinking about setting up.
Here are some general guidelines to help give you an idea of the type of regulations you may need to comply with. These may vary between states, so you should always consult with your the local authority in the particular state in which you want to set up your pet business.
If you are going to be involved in the sale of animals as pets, as in a pet store, either from your home, commercial premises or even by internet, then you will be required to obtain a license from your local authority where your business will be registered.
Typically, the local authority will be interested in making sure that all animals that will be on the premises will be well looked after, that the premises will be suitable for the purpose and that the people involved in the business are suitably trained and knowledgeable.
A license is normally issued for a period of one year and the business will undergo an inspection, normally carried out by an authorized veterinary surgeon. All aspects of such a business will be considered before granting a license. Among these they will look to make sure that:
The accommodation is suitable for the types of animals to be kept on the premises
There will be sufficient arrangements for food and drink and attention to the animals
The correct measures will be taken to avoid the spread of diseases among animals
Provision will be adequate in the case of a fire or emergency
There are also certain legal conditions that apply directly to the sale of animals, such as the sale of animals to children under the age of 16 who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian.
If you are going to provide a service of boarding for cats and dogs, then there is a separate license which you will have to apply for, and your local authority will be able to advise you of the application process.
Most pet store licenses only cover a certain number and type of animals that can be kept on the premises. These typically include: puppies and kittens, domestic rodents such as rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters etc.; certain types of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Your local authority will be able to advise you about the many different conditions and restrictions that apply in the case of each type of animal such as the quality of water used in fish tanks and the amount of space which should be available for birds in order that they are not unduly restricted.
If your pet business deals with the production of pet food such as home made dog treats or any food that will be consumed by domestic pets then you will normally be required to obtain approval and licensing for production from your local authority. The production and labelling of pet food is governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and typically the department of agriculture in each state. Regulations are strict and very detailed about what you can and can’t do and you should make sure you have expert advice before trying to sell any home made pet food or pet treats.
If you provide boarding or kennelling services, or even dog day care services, then you will be required to obtain the necessary license from your local authority and the premises will be inspected by an authorized veterinary surgeon each year. You will also have to seek approval from the local authority department responsible for zoning to ensure that the premises you intend to use are suitable for the purpose and do not conflict with any zoning restrictions in that particular area.