Pet business regulations and permits
Permits for commercial kennels, pet daycares and shops where pets are sold
Public Health and the King County Board of Health regulate pet businesses such as pet shops, commercial kennels, pet daycares, pet grooming facilities, mobile pet grooming facilities, animal shelters, poultry retailers and pet food retailers. See King County Board of Health Title 8: Zoonotic Disease Prevention.
In King County, Public Health - Seattle & King County (Public Health) permits and inspects animal shelters, commercial kennels, pet daycares, pet food retail businesses, pet grooming services, pet shops, satellite pet adoption facilities and poultry retailers. The permit period is from March 1 to February 28 (29) and must be renewed annually. Public Health sends renewal applications to permitted businesses every January.
Below are descriptions of each type of business requiring a permit. See the link above for the complete Board of Health regulations, definitions, and schedule of permit fees.
- Animal shelter is any facility used to house or contain and offer or distribute for adoption as pets any stray, homeless, abandoned or unwanted animals other than livestock that is owned, operated or maintained by a public body, an established humane society, animal welfare society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or other nonprofit organizations, or by a person or persons devoted to the welfare, protection and humane treatment of animals. Animal shelters include satellite pet adoption facilities but do not include pet adoption services performed at an animal shelter or satellite pet adoptions facility not more than a total of 21 days per year.
- Commercial kennel is any establishment, where four or more dogs or cats are kept for commercial purposes, including but not limited to board, propagation and training. Commercial kennels include, but are not limited to, dog or cat boarding facilities, training facilities where dogs or cats are boarded during the course of training, catteries and dog or cat breeding or importation businesses. Commercial kennels do not include pet shops, pet daycare facilities, animal shelters, pet grooming services or veterinary hospitals or clinics where animals are kept for surgical or medical treatment under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
- Pet daycares include any commercial facility where four or more dogs or other pet animal are left by their owners for periods of supervised social interaction in play groups with other animals of the same species for the majority of the time the pets are at the facility during the hours the facility is open to the public.
- Pet food retail business is any retail establishment selling any of the following for consumption by pets: Foods or treats requiring refrigeration or freezing to prevent spoilage; or uncooked or partially cooked animal derived pet foods or treats not requiring refrigeration or freezing. Partially cooked animal derived pet foods or treats are those that are cured, dried, dehydrated or smoked and include but are not limited to pig ears, beef hooves, dried tendons, smoked bones, chicken or salmon jerky, and freeze dried seafood, meat or animal organs.
- Pet grooming service is any establishment or mobile unit, public or private, where pet animals are bathed, clipped or combed for the purpose of enhancing their aesthetic value or health, or both, and for which a fee is charged. Pet grooming service includes any self service dog washing business where the customer washes their own pets. Pet grooming service does not include incidental bathing or combing of pets as part of regular animal care performed at a pet shop, commercial kennel, pet daycare, animal shelters or grooming performed on an infrequent nonprofit basis for hobby or recreational purposes.
- Pet shop is any establishment, store or department of any store that acquires, through purchase, consignment, donation, importation or breeding, live animals including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish or poultry, but excluding livestock, and sells or offers to sell, adopt or trade the live animals to the public or retail outlets.
- Poultry retail business means any establishment, store, department of any store or other establishment that acquires live poultry through purchase, consignment, donation, importation, hatching or breeding, and sells or offers to sell, adopt or trade the live poultry to the public. "Poultry retail business" does not include any facilities that hold animals for not more than twenty-four hours before the animals are sold, auctioned, adopted, traded or donated and removed from the premises.
- Satellite adoption facility is a fixed location within a separately permitted pet shop, commercial kennel, pet daycare facility, pet grooming service or pet food retail business where an animal shelter or its staff or volunteers house, care for and regularly offer pets for adoption from the fixed location. If you operate a hobby kennel or cattery outside the city of Seattle you may need a license from your local jurisdiction and/or Regional Animal Services for King County (RASKC). For more information about these types of licenses in King County, please call 206-296-7387 or visit their website.
If a business transfers ownership, the permit does not transfer to the new owner. If you are a new owner of a currently-permitted facility you must contact Public Health to make arrangements to transfer the permit to you.
Check your zoning
Before you submit your application for plan review for your new facility check with your local county/city planning and development department to ensure that the property is zoned for the proposed use.
- Unincorporated King County
In unincorporated King County contact King County Department of Planning and Environmental Review at 206-296-6600 or visit their website.
In Seattle contact Seattle DPD at 206-684-8600 or visit their website.
- Links to local cities and other jurisdictions
If the property is in a city, look up links to websites of local cities and towns. Not all city and towns have websites available. You may need to look your local planning/zoning department in the blue pages of your phone book.
Please submit a Plan Review Application by downloading the document in Step 1 below. After your plan review has been reviewed and approved by the Zoonotics Disease Program, the next step is to complete the permit application in Step 2.
- Select a plan review application:
Environmental Health Services Division
Zoonotic Disease Program - Permit Application
401 5th Ave, Suite 1100
Seattle WA 98104
Public Health inspectors will conduct inspections of new facilities before they open for business. Existing permitted facilities will be inspected annually by a Public Health inspector. Inspections may be unannounced but are always conducted during business hours.
To file a complaint regarding a pet shop, pet daycare, commercial kennel, pet grooming service, animal shelter, satellite pet adoption facility or pet food retail establishment call 206-263-9566.
- Infection Control Plan – A Guide for Pet Related Businesses in King County (MS Word)
- Infection Control Plan – Satellite Cat Adoption Facility (MS Word)
- Infection Control Plan – Live Poultry Businesses (MS Word)
- Infection Control Plan – For Groomers (MS Word)
- Poultry retailer inspection check list: How to prepare for your inspection
- Pet food retail inspection checklist