Epsom and Ewell Council issued the first licence under the new rules governing the licensing of animal based businesses to EQUUS Equestrian Centre in Horton Country Park this week.

The rules are set nationally, under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

The new regime provides licensing authorities with additional powers for safeguarding animal welfare, as well as severe penalties for those conducting business without a licence.

The EQUUS centre was inspected as such under the requirements for a licence for hiring out horses. Due to high welfare standards they were awarded five stars, the highest score possible.

Councillor Graham Dudley, Chairman of the Licensing and Planning Policy Committee, praised the new regulation for going further in guaranteeing animal welfare than was previous the case.

Cllr Dudley said: "Under the new regulations, previously exempt activities, such as dog day care, are now included and require a licence from the council.

"If you are buying a new pet, it should be from a licensed vendor who can demonstrate they are meeting the requirements of the new regulations. This means that an advertisement for a puppy for sale, for instance, should now include the breeder’s licence number issued by their local council. If in doubt ask - a responsible pet vendor will always welcome a potential buyer or client asking questions about animal welfare."

The new Animal Welfare Regulations guidance says that a licence is now required for five activities involving animals: Selling animals as pets, providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs, hiring out horses, breeding dogs and/or keeping or training animals for exhibition.