What You Need to Know About The Pet Boarding Code of Practice

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In Victoria, the Code of Practice for the Operation of Boarding Establishments was created to ensure that dogs and cats are given the proper care and accommodation.

If you’re an owner or operator of a pet boarding establishment, it’s important that you understand this Code and its provisions. Not only will this keep you in accordance with the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act, it will also ensure that the animals within your establishment are getting their needs met.

In this blog, we’re going to be talking about the main points in the Code of Practice. As we go through the provisions, we’ll also define some of the common terms used in the Code.

  1. Things To Check Before Admission

All animals that are admitted must be properly identified. This includes the acknowledgement of the animals’ special needs regarding diet, medication and grooming. These requirements can be requested by the animal’s owner or a veterinary surgeon. In the context of this Code, ‘animals’ refers to dogs, cats, puppies or kittens.

Before admitting an animal, you need to make sure that it meets certain vaccination requirements for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and kennel cough. The recommended time frames for vaccinations might differ depending on the age of your pet. Please check your local government website for more information on pet vaccinations.

  1. Responsibilities of Staff

There are three main roles that you need to consider. The first is the proprietor/manager. They are responsible for the entire operation and must ensure that the establishment is following all provisions in the Code.

Generally, the manager is there to make sure that:

  • Each animal is identified, and that relevant records and statistics are collected and maintained
  • The staff are trained and are providing proper care to the animals
  • The establishment remains hygienic and safe for both workers and animals
  • Veterinary care is provided when necessary
  • To have plans in place in case of an emergency situations
  • Part 5 of the Act (‘Boarding of Dogs and Cats’) is displayed in the reception area for the clients to see.

The manager must also have sufficient experience and training in the field of animal care.

The second role is that of the animal attendants. Generally speaking, they are responsible for the day-to-day management of the animals and the establishment as a whole.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Daily feeding of the animals
  • Ensuring that there is a supply of clean food and water
  • Exercising the dogs when necessary
  • Inspecting the animals and looking for specific symptoms like coughing, lameness, lack of appetite, bloating abdomen and other abnormalities.
  • Daily cleaning of the establishment
  • Maintaining personal hygiene through hand washing and proper work clothing

The staff must also be informed of any disease-causing organisms that can be transmitted from animal to humans.

Finally, there’s the veterinarian. The proprietor must have a written agreement with a number of veterinarians to be on call. This will ensure that the animals are able to get the proper treatment that they need when necessary.

  1. Security of Establishment

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The establishment must be secure enough to prevent any trespassers from entering. In addition, pens and other enclosures must have a locking device that will prevent animals from opening them.

A 1.8m fence is also required to stop the animals from escaping and to deter unauthorised entry. The fence must be made from brick, concrete, timber, iron, chain mesh OR weld mesh wire. Gates or doors must have a self-locking and closing mechanism.

For more information regarding pen sizes, enclosures, overnight boarding and required facilities, please visit your state government’s website as certain provisions might differ depending on the state or territory that you’re in.

  1. Transportation

If the animals need to be transported, the designated driver is responsible for the welfare of the animals in transit.

They must ensure:

  • The animals are kept safe and secure in a ventilated basket, cage or box
  • That the animals are separated from each other (especially when carrying dogs and cats)
  • That larger dogs are restrained when deemed necessary
  • No physical hazards are present in the vehicle (i.e., sharp edges)
  • That the animals cannot escape during transit
  • The vehicle is hygienic and weatherproof

In addition, the transit time for the animals must always be kept to a minimum.

  1. Record-Keeping

The establishment must keep a record of information relating to each animal that is admitted.

Here is a short list of the details that the proprietor should have record of:

  • Name, sex, breed type, colour, age and distinguishing features of the animal
  • Condition of the animal on arrival
  • Date of admission and date of collection
  • Medical, dietary and grooming needs
  • Collars, leads and other belongings brought with the animal
  • Vaccination history
  • Name and contact details for the owner and the owner’s veterinarian
  • Any physical or behavioural changes during boarding

By no means is this a comprehensive guide on the Code of Practice for the Operation of Boarding Establishments. This was just a short guide to give you a quick overview of what you need to know as a proprietor. We highly recommend that you thoroughly go through the Code in order to ensure that your establishment is adhering to all the provisions and regulations.