Your dream is taking shape: You're going to turn your passion for pets into an animal boarding business. You've assessed your capabilities and space; your business plan is set; and you've ordered your equipment, crates and dog runs. Before you open your doors for business, you must obtain the appropriate licenses and permits to legally operate.
There are no federal licensing requirements or standards for private animal boarding businesses. Whether you must meet some specific state or local standards to operate an animal boarding facility depends on the local laws in your jurisdiction. Some states, among them Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Nebraska, North Carolina, Missouri, Connecticut, Michigan, Georgia and Illinois, require boarding kennel licensing and inspections at the state or local level. Business associations such as the International Boarding and Pet Services Association offer education, standards and certification.
To operate your boarding business, regardless of the need in your jurisdiction for a specific animal boarding license, you will at least need to be licensed at the state, county or municipal level to run a business. Where you obtain your business license depends on the jurisdiction where you operate. Failure to obtain a business license is a misdemeanor in many areas.
Ensure that your business is able to comply with your state and local standards. Every state is different, and some local jurisdictions may have higher standards than the state, as well. Provide clean, well-ventilated accommodations that are suitable in size and are appropriately climate-controlled. Provide clean water and ready access to shade and shelter against sun, heat, cold and rain. Provide exercise space, and take every precaution to prevent and control spread of disease, which can run rampant in a kennel and in some cases destroy your business. Ensure adequate fire prevention, response plans and insurance in the case of fire or natural disaster. Your boarding facility may be inspected periodically.
Attend classes to obtain detailed knowledge of the proper care and handling of the animals you intend to board and kennel sanitation and maintenance. Study animal behavior. Know how to read a dog's body language to help prevent incidents that can occur when animals are kept in close quarters.
Satisfy local zoning requirements. Contact your local or county zoning departments to learn what those requirements are. In small towns, the person to contact may be the building inspector. Most jurisdictions do not allow animal boarding kennels to operate within a residential neighborhood, for example. Make sure your facility is in the proper zone.
Visit the Small Business Administration's website to search for your business and license requirements. Enter your zip code and select "General Licensing" since an animal boarding kennel license is not listed. Click on "Business Licenses," then follow the link to your local or state level, which is provided based on your zip code.
Visit your local city hall or tax and permit office. Bring applicable proof of your business, such as photographs, proof of insurance or other business-operating-related documents. File an application and pay the fees, which vary from one municipality to another.