“THE FEES are barking mad!” — that’s the verdict from one dog carer whose boarding fees have soared by more than £400.

Back in February, Bracknell Forest Council agreed to hike the price of a licence for animal boarding establishments to £570 from £120.

This meant costs for home boarders were put in line with those of commercial kennels — something Bracknell Forest’s home-boarding community is not happy about.

READ MORE: Dog-walking charges could be introduced

Of several dog carers who spoke to the News about this issue, one called the price hike “disgusting” and “disgraceful”.

Another boarder, Julie Cooper, has run Parker’s Dog Walking and Pet Services from Bracknell for the past three years.

Bracknell News:

She told the News: “When I first heard of the price increase I thought it must be a mistake? How can we go up from £120 to £570 in one hit?

“We all understand that prices rise but this increase is just completely unacceptable.

“The other issue is we are being charged the same fee as a boarding kennel which can cater for 30 dogs at any one time, I live in a normal house and I'm allowed 4 dogs.

Bracknell News:

“How can the council justify this?”

How does the council justify this?

Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) is part of the Public Protection Partnership (PPP), a joint service shared with Wokingham Borough Council and West Berkshire Council which controls licensing across these three areas.

The PPP told the News prices were increasing based on a ‘full cost recovery’ model which will bring all three authorities costs in line with one another.

READ MORE: Readers react to dog-walking charges plan

Fees for home boarding, the PPP said, include administration expenses and inspection costs for four visits.

Licences can be issued for up to three years, but this is dependent on the welfare standard of the boarder. The PPP claims this means those that meet higher standards will pay less over the long-run.

Bracknell News:

But the hike comes at a time when many doggy day-cares have just been through months of hardship due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Nicola Quelch, who has been running Berkshire Canine Company from Harmans Water for almost a year, said: “The price hike during a pandemic when our businesses are significantly reduced is unfair.

Bracknell News:

“As a new boarder, I will only receive a year licence on renewal, so I will have to pay this amount and possibly any increase again next year.

“More established boarders will be given a two or three year licence for the same amount.”

“Dream job”

Another dog carer told the News they fear that because they have not made any money since March due to the pandemic, they could be forced to give up on their “dream job.”

Councillor John Harrison, BFC’s public protection boss, said the authority first reviewed its fees for animal establishments following the introduction of new regulations in 2018.

Bracknell News:

READ MORE: Dog-walkers told to keep mutts on leads in Swinley Forest

He added: “We recognise the significant issues businesses in this sector are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Where inspections have been postponed due to government restrictions, we have extended existing licences for three months.

“We are happy to discuss phased payment options with any licence holders who may be struggling at this time.”


Despite this, it was the lack of communication from the PPP and BFC about the price hike which stung the community the most.

Emma Gould, who is in charge at Floyd’s Friends Dog Walking and Pet Services in Warfield, said: “We haven't had any letter or email advising us that the fees were going up to this extortionate amount.

Bracknell News:

“I contacted BFC quite a few times via email.

“One of my emails at the end said ‘sorry to be the bearer of bad news’, so I sent another asking why the fees had gone up.

“All the emails and messages were ignored.”

A PPP spokesperson said the service has no legal duty to inform boarders of fee changes, but added they will try to contact businesses about such issues going forward.

“Barking mad”

The PPP also said it is not aware of any unlicensed boarders operating across the three local authority areas, but this a major concern for many dog carers who told the News they fear an increase in competition from unlicensed carers who cannot afford the increased fees.

In light of this, Bracknell Forest’s animal home-boarding community is calling on the council and the PPP to revert the fee back to its previous price.

Bracknell News:

Karen Fleck runs her doggy daycare business from Sandhurst.

She said: “Just leave it as it was. We’re only a small industry.

“[The fees are] just extortionate.

“I wouldn’t even mind an inflationary increase but to go that far — I just won’t be able to continue.

“The fees are barking mad.”