Animal welfare information

There is a wide range of legislation to protect the health and welfare of animals in captivity.

The following information explains the standards that owners and keepers must maintain and how to report suspected animal cruelty.

All owners and keepers of animals have a duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Owners and keepers must take positive steps to ensure that they care for their animals properly and in particular must provide for the five welfare needs:

  • Its need for a suitable environment
  • Its need for a suitable diet
  • Its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • Any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • Its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The GOV.UK website lists the legislation and guidance on animal welfare.

Licensed and unlicensed premises

A licence is usually required where any of the following take place:

  • Selling animals as pets;
  • Providing for or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs;
  • Hiring out horses;
  • Dog breeding;
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition.

Licenced operators undergo regular inspections by trained local authority officers and veterinarians to ensure that adequate standards of care for the animals in their charge are maintained. If you suspect a problem with animal welfare in a licensed premises, or you believe that someone is operating without a licence, please contact the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Licensing Team.

It is a requirement of The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (“the Regulations”), under which licences are issued, for the licences to be prominently displayed on any premises on which the licensable activity is carried on, or that the name of the licence holder followed by the number of the licence holder’s licence be clearly and prominently displayed on any website used in respect of the licensable activity.

Members of the public are strongly encouraged to check that an operator is properly licenced before purchasing, hiring, or boarding an animal.

Checking licensed operator star ratings

All holders of Animal Welfare Licences issued under the Regulations are awarded a star rating, as laid out in the table below. Members of the public can check the star rating of existing licences using our Online Licensing Register (note that you may require the licence number if the holder is operating out of a home address – you can obtain this from the operator themselves or contact the Licensing Team). Our Animal Welfare Establishment Directory also shows the location of establishments within the borough and provides contact details (please note that this directory is voluntary and so not all establishments may appear on it).

Risk-based scoring system

Scoring matrix

Minor failings

(existing businesses that are failing to meet minimum standards)

Minimum standards

(as laid down in the schedules and guidance)

Higher standards

(as laid down in the guidance)

Low risk

1 star

1-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 12-month period

3 star

2-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 24-month period

5 star

3-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 36-month period
High risk

1 star

1-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 12-month period

2 star

1-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 12-month period

4 star

2-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 24-month period

How do I report suspected animal cruelty?

The organisation to which you report suspected cases of cruelty or neglect depends on the animal and the type of establishment they are kept in.

The City of London Animal Health & Welfare Services Team, under contract, carries out visits on behalf of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. You can contact the City of London Animal Health & Welfare Services Team on 020 8897 6741 and they will direct you to the relevant organisation or to the appropriate local authority.

All other cases

If you suspect that any other animal is being subjected to any form of cruelty, you should contact the RSPCA.

If you suspect a case of cruelty or neglect of a horse you can contact World Horse Welfare.