In order for me to carry out the dog day care and boarding business correctly, I had to apply for a license from Wiltshire council. As soon as I knew the dates of completion, exchange and moving in were made concrete with the solicitor and estate agent, I made contact with the council, by sending in my application and license fee. I had applied for a maximum of 6 dogs to be on my license (knowing that that would coming down by one or two, I wanted to overestimate rather than underestimate). Hoping this would also spur me on in getting all the boxes emptied and the house in order, an council licensing officer from the animal welfare team was coming to inspect the property on 16th July 2017.
You may ask, "why is a boarding license needed?" Well, that's all explained below:
To make sure that animals are kept in accommodation suitable in terms of size, construction, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
To make sure that animals are adequately supplied with suitable food, drink, and bedding material
To make sure that animals are adequately exercised
To make sure that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent and control the spread among animals of infectious or contagious diseases
To make sure that appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of the animals in case of fire or other emergency.
I thought I was ready. Things I had in place already included:
- stairs gates on a couple of the rooms - to prevent dogs escaping when the front door was opened, allowing air to circulate and using them to keep dogs separated if needed
- fire extinguisher and blanket
- airtight storage bins for dry dog food
- spare bedding, bowls, leads and collars
- towels for drying off wet hounds
- separate fridge for storing a dog's medication and/or meat
- clean floors, free from obstacles
- business manual
- booking forms for clients
- and access to the garden.
I thought I had everything needed to "pass" the grade, but if there were points that needed attention, the inspector would be kind enough to point them out and help with suggestions etc.
I wasn't as prepared as much I thought I was and the way things were put across/said to me, weren't done in the best way either. This shook me up and left me feeling a bit deflated after the visit.
One of the main concerns raised by the inspector, was that the conservatories were too hot to keep dogs in. Ok, on the day the inspector was here, it was a warm day. But it's not as tho I'd be shutting dogs in the conservatories with all the windows and doors shut for hours on end. As I want to run a dog day care as part of the business, I'm planning on being at home.....not galavanting around, leaving the dogs on their own at home! BUT, I can understand why the point was raised. Just didn't help that it was a pretty hot day, which didn't help the temperatures in the conservatories. Due to the heat, those rooms weren't allowed to be used, which reduced the number of rooms dogs were allowed into. This meant, at that point in time, the inspector would only allow me to have three medium dogs (spaniels or smaller) or two large dogs (labradors). I couldn't make a living from having so few dogs!
Along with a number of other points raised, I put off the start date of setting up the business. I wanted to do things properly, which meant dealing with the points raised by the inspector and completing them all before rearanging another visit to the property. With a lot of help, things slowly got ticked off the list. Some of the jobs included:
- installing fire alarms
- tidying away loose appliance wires
- doing risk assessments for the whole property - what to do in case of a sick dog, what to do if there is children under the age of five in the house etc
- and putting emergency contact details in the window, so if anything were to happen to me and I wasn't home to allow owners to collect their dogs, they could phone someone who is local with a set of keys.
So, to make a long story short, the roofs had to be changed from polycarbonate (the standard roofing system to be used on conservatories) to a solid roof (tiles, insulated roofing, with the inside being finished off by plasterboard and plaster). Over a two week period, I had arranged a few different companies to come in, measure up etc to be able to send us quotes. Once all of those had come back, the decision was made to change both roofs with a company called "Wetheralds". A start date of Monday 21st August was given and was informed that the team working on the job could do both roofs in five days! Originally, there were supposed to be three guys coming down to start the job, but only two turned up....but between them, they actually completed both roofs in a week (even tho one of them had managed to stand on a tool he'd left on the floor, causing him to fracture his ankle!!!).
Another thing on the list, was to have a suitable place to shelter dogs if I ever had to evacuate the house in case of a fire. So, the shed at the bottom of the garden was emptied, so that could be used as temporary shelter.
One of the garden fences also had to be replaced, making the garden more secure. A local company called "T. Deacon & Sons" were brought in and a new six foot wooden fence was erected in three days.
Once all of the jobs had been completed, it was time to rearrange the council to come back and do a re-inspection to make sure all the points raised before has been dealt with. I had requested a second opinion as well, as didn't agree with the first inspector. So, two inspectors turned up on Tuesday 5th September. The lead inspector wasn't the inspector from the first visit. For me, things were handled much better and things went more smoothly. She was impressed with the amount of work done on the property and the amount of paperwork done, which seemed to impress her and that allowed me to gain bonus points. The first inspector had also come along for the re-inspection and still tried to make her point by dishing out some digs, but because it was going so well this time, I just ignored it. So, all in all, a license was granted to me that day, allowing me to have up to five dogs on the property. This is mostly down to getting the conservatory roofs changed and being allowed to use those rooms, increasing the space dogs are allowed to use!