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ALIKC 2017 – Growing from strength to strength

The importance of the Association of Licensed Kennels and catteries continues to grow with its 250-strong membership of existing and prospective licensed boarding establishment owners. The Associations’ annual conference is fast becoming an important fixture in the members’ calendar and also attracts interest from pet industry professionals, suppliers and many others considering dipping their toe into animal welfare. Now in it’s second year, the 2017 conference was recently held at the College of Animal Welfare in Godmanchester near Huntingdon and attended by more than sixty delegates.

An all-new line-up of high-calibre industry speakers delivered superb presentations on a diverse range of topics with particular relevance to kennel and cattery owners. Sue Hawkins, the Proprietor & Founder, of Hawksmoor Hydrotherapy & Training Centre got the day underway with the importance of diversification in kennel and cattery Services. Throughout her life, Sue has been driven by the philosophy that animals must be cared for in a safe, and loving environment and should receive attention from dedicated and qualified professionals. Originally an extension of the animal boarding service being offered at the time, the Hawksmoor Hydrotherapy Centre was the first to be formally accredited for training in hydrotherapy. Today it’s professionally recognised as a market leader in pet therapy and renowned worldwide for its high standards. Respected by local veterinary surgeons, Hawksmoor is endorsed by the British Veterinary Nursing Association and the Canine Hydrotherapy Association.

ALIKC was delighted to welcome Dr. Vicki Adams BSc(Agr), a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Managing Director of Vet Epi Ltd. Her keynote presentation featured the much debated topic of titre testing. Not only did Dr. Adams provide a valued talk at the Conference, ALIKC is also delighted to announced that she has agreed to join its committee to make regular contributions to the activities and efforts on behalf of licensed kennel and cattery owners in future. In her ‘day job’ as an epidemiological and statistical consultant, Dr Adams is responsible for a number of projects including Pet Nutrition, AMTRA companion animal courses, First Aid for small animals, microchip training and continuing education, the 2010 health survey of UK Pekingese, an on-line survey of attitudes to reproduction in dogs, a study of obstructive airway syndrome in dogs and a systematic review of the literature on estimating pet populations. She is also Acting Chief Executive of the Animal Cancer Trust, a charity dedicated to providing education and information about cancer in pets. Dr Adams continues to provide small animal veterinary locum cover, works with International Cat Care as a member of the feline expert panel and is the founding editor of the online veterinary journal, Veterinary Record Open. “We’re absolutely delighted to have Dr Adams on our Committee”, said ALIKC Chair, Gregory Warman, “she provides us with the professional edge required in our mission with the licensed kennel and cattery sector and is able to guide us on all aspects relating to animal welfare and is, furthermore, an accomplished public speaker and lecturer”.

Stephanie Kleyman partner in London law firm, Kleyman & Co Solicitors, spoke about understanding the law and how it affects the animal boarding business. An experienced commercial solicitor specialising in advice and assistance from start-up, her presentation covered some of the common business mistakes and the legal steps to get it right first time. Boarding industry issues ranging from the sale of a business and premises to drafting agreements and transferring ownership, legal process and documentation, financial obligations and what records business owners are required to keep were all covered in this hugely informative talk.

Marketing and lead generation consultant Diana Chrouch works with SME’s to help achieve their income goals. She’s also a special advisor on the UK economic blueprint project for small businesses under the patronage of Prime Minister, Theresa May. With experience in the veterinary industry, Diana presented valuable insight into the social media challenges and needs of pet boarding owners including key advice on new business generation.

Peninsula Business Services have been protecting employers for many years. They deliver over a million pieces of HR advice every year and look to support business of all sizes in minimising disruption within their organisation. Business Development Manager, Savio Zuzarte clarified a number of key areas where licensed kennel and cattery owners could put measures in place to protect their business. Explaining why health and safety legislation can be complicated but in place for good reason, the Peninsula representative pointed out that HR law is demanding and can be challenging for business owners to implement. Boarding kennels and catteries have differing risks and requirements to which they must adhere, ranging from hazardous substances, fire risks, fire extinguishers and emergency lighting to manual handling, procedures, organisation and documentation.

SAI Global has created a quality assurance standard for pet boarding establishments aligned to local authority legal requirements and incudes gold standard recommendations. SAI Welfare Schemes Manager, outlined how the scheme provides independent verification of standards in several areas including pet arrivals, animal accommodation, grounds and exercise areas, animal health and welfare, feeding and the provision of water, health and safety, waste disposal and team training. There are likely to be a number of benefits of pet welfare quality assurance including the independent verification of a caring, clean, safe and skilled boarding establishment. It also enables the promotion of high standards of animal care, highlighting areas for improvement and demonstrates dedication to pet care and customer expectation. Following the recent Animal Establishment Licensing in England consultation, the Next Steps document highlighted plans to incorporate earned recognition into the licensing system, using a risk-based assessment process that could, in the future, affect the length of license term for kennels and catteries.

Leslie Heaton-Smith, Marketing and Development Director at the College of Animal Welfare and Vet Skill Ltd brought the keynote speakers to a close with an excellent presentation selecting the right staff for kennels and catteries as well as understanding the meaning of qualifications presented on CVs.

Association members enthusiastically engaged with Q+A sessions and appreciated the value of this annual ALIKC event that they felt was a great asset for networking and advice and an excellent source of industry information. In closing this year’s Conference, ALIKC Chair Gregory Warman told delegates that ALIKC has now firmly established itself as the representative voice of a growing number of licensed kennel and cattery owners. He outlined how membership of the Association brings a number of benefits, including the latest information and news from the canine and feline world with particular focus on protecting the future of the licensed industry. In addition, there are a number of special offers and discounts available exclusively to members from ALIKC partners, including the exclusive members insurance policy for boarding establishments. Underwritten by A-rated insurance company Hiscox, the product offers cover for Property Damage, Business Interruption, Public & Products Liability, Employers, Legal Expenses, Business HR, Personal Accident and Directors Liability at a competitive market premium.

ALIKC membership is available to owners of boarding kennels and/or catteries licensed by a local authority. Retired Boarding Kennel and/or Cattery License holders and anyone considering buying a Licensed Boarding Kennel and/or Cattery may apply for membership online at http://alikc.org.uk/join-us/. The full extent of the activities of ALIKC together with details of the many membership benefits are available at www.alikc.org.uk. or by emailing admin@alikc.org.uk.