A number of pet care franchise brands have joined forces to create a new regulatory body focused on improving animal welfare standards in the sector.
Boarding, dog walking and pet sitting franchisor Petpals has banded together with other firms Barking Mad, Pet Stay and We Love Pets to create the Pet Care Franchise Association (PCFA). Through a range of initiatives, the new organisation aims to appeal to relevant government authorities to raise the ceiling for ethical pet care through both the training and licensing of pet-care activities. Together, the association represents around 250 franchisees, 4,200 pet-care staff and 91,000 customers across the UK.
David Gray, brand development manager at Petpals, believes there has been an increasing need for such a regulatory body since first investing in his own Petpals franchise 16 years ago.
He said: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pet owners in the UK has increased significantly and, therefore, so has the demand for pet-care services.
“Unfortunately, this has seen a huge leap in the number of unlicensed pet-care providers offering boarding services without the necessary licenses or even boarding pets with no training or support.
“The PCFA aims to reduce the inconsistencies in how local authorities interpret Defra’s boarding and animal care regulations, cut the red tape and put the focus back onto animal welfare – this is a mission we’re committed to and proud to support.
Kevin Thackrah, director of Petpals, continued: “Much more needs to be done as it’s too easy for unethical pet-care providers to slip through the net and deliver care that does not meet minimum standards.
“The sad truth is that some pets will suffer due to inappropriate care, and that is heart-breaking. At Petpals, we firmly believe that pet ownership is a privilege, not a right. That is why we wholeheartedly champion the commitments of the PCFA and will continue to represent the various initiatives as we work with other brands for the rights of pets around the country.”
The association is looking to kick off its activities in 2023 with a public awareness campaign and national education scheme, so all pet owners and providers in the UK understand how the organisation works and how they can get involved.
PCFA has also drawn up a range of guidelines for other pet-care franchises looking to join the group.
Gray added: “Firstly, any franchisors looking to join forces with us must be a member of the British Franchise Association, and it goes without saying that the franchisor should have clear guidelines and policies relating to all aspects of pet welfare.
“We’re committed to maintaining these standards because Petpals is, first and foremost, invested in offering only the best possible pet-care standards industry wide. This, in turn, increases trust in our services and demand for our business model.”