A dog-boarding kennel provides a valuable service to dog owners who need overnight care for their pets. A clean, reputable facility with knowledgeable staff provides clients with peace of mind and the assurance that their pets are being fed, exercised and receiving human interaction. Any facility providing care for several dogs can be a breeding ground for bordetella and other communicable diseases, so it is important that kennel owners require all dogs to be current on vaccines. Kennel licenses also are required for facilities that breed or sell dogs.

Obtaining Appropriate Kennel Licenses

Determine whether licensure is required at the state level. In the U.S., the states of Connecticut and Florida require a boarding license, while Maine, Iowa, Illinois and Colorado require boarding and shelter licenses. Missouri requires an annual license for animal boarding facilities, and Michigan requires a state registration form. If you live in one of these states, contact the state’s Department of Agriculture for more information. Some states, including Maine, require a criminal background check and will not grant licensure to people previously convicted of certain crimes, such as murder or animal cruelty.

Conform to minimum kennel standards. Most locales do not allow kennels to operate in a residential zone. All kennels should be clean, well-lit and ventilated with adequate space for each dog. Dogs should have access to shelter and water at all times. Maintain files with vaccination records for each dog. Also, plan for environmentally sound waste management procedures. Your city or county may require an inspection of the facilities before granting licensure. Inspecting departments may include the health department, environmental safety department and animal control. Some states, like Pennsylvania, have a Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement or similar agency that also maintains kennel inspection and complaint records.

Contact your city or county clerk for information on the kennel license application. Most locales require kennel licensure for facilities boarding five or more adult dogs. The definition of “adult dog” for kennel licensure purposes varies, but most locales define it as 3 or 4 months old. The city or county usually requires proof of rabies vaccination for each dog as well as a fee based on the number of dogs your facility accommodates. This transaction usually takes place through the treasurer’s office. Some applications include a questionnaire requesting more information about the facility and its intended usage, such as whether dogs are bred or sold.