OATA’s Primary Authority scheme for pet shop licences and health & safety has been given the official stamp of approval in Parliament just before it dissolved in readiness for the General Election.

In a written answer to MP Tracey Crouch, DEFRA minister George Eustice remarked: “Partnerships of this kind can make a valuable contribution to improving animal welfare. We are pleased that this particular industry is working closely with local authorities, and the City of London specifically, to improve the quality of inspections and look forward to seeing welfare improvements as a consequence.”

For years OATA has been highlighting the inconsistency of pet shop licensing standards across the UK and this Primary Authority scheme with the City of London Corporation (CLC) is part of its work trying to bring some kind of uniformity for pet shops to show they work to high animal welfare standards.

“We believe our co-ordinated Primary Authority partnership with the City of London Corporation is the first such scheme for animal establishments and the first to create an inspection plan.

“The inspection plan is based on the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health’s 2013 Model Guidelines for Pet Vending Licensing guidance and enables both shops and inspecting officers to know exactly what to expect during the inspection. We believe it enables shops to show their customers they are operating to high welfare standards and gives councils the chance to give ‘earned recognition’ to well-run shops.

“Since its launch to OATA members in November last year 121 shops, covered by 102 local licensing authorities, have joined the scheme and we hope more members will join as we approach the next inspection round.”

Assistant Director in the City of London Corporation’s Animal Health and Welfare Services Rob Quest worked with Keith to create the partnership. He said: “As a Local Authority, the City of London Corporation has operated a number of Primary Authority Partnerships in other business sectors. It has seen how they can benefit the aims of both partners in providing a more consistent approach to inspections and better compliance. Over several years, our officers have worked with OATA on various matters and when BRDO made changes to the categories for which Primary Authority Partnerships could be entered into, the City of London Corporation welcomed the opportunity to enter a co-ordinated partnership with OATA.”

OATA and CLC have also submitted the scheme into the Primary Authority Awards as an example of best practise.