Don’t Panic about the new Data Protection Act

The Animal Care College – caring for people caring for animals

Data is a precious thing – Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the Internet)

I have long believed that for a small business (and most kennel businesses are small) the need to computerise everything is minimal.  The footfall of the average kennel is unlikely to be much more than 30 each week unless you have associated activities such as a grooming room or shop, although of course, there is a tendency for everyone to turn up at once so it sometimes seems much busier than it actually is.  Under those circumstances it is much easier to provide a new client with a printed card on which they write all the details which can then simply be dropped into card index drawer than for the receptionist, whoever that may be, to turn to the computer and painstakingly insert a dozen fields while three or four owners are waiting to either deliver or collect their pets.

It is often suggested that computerisation gives you access to a range of useful reports and this is true but, frankly, how many kennels need to print out a list of medication when any owner or member of staff worth their salt will know the dog or cat well enough to remember what it needs and, in any case, a board with each dog’s details in the kitchen area is more than enough to ensure that each pet is looked after properly.  If you think about it a diary, a website, an email address, a telephone number and a simple spreadsheet to calculate income and expenditure is really all that is necessary.  However, using a computer has gradually become a symbol of modernity and we seem to use them whether or not they provide the best process in any given set of circumstances.

If this is the way your kennel and/or cattery has been administered then you did not need to have any concerns about the first Data Protection Act of 1998 for it only applied to a limited extent and it has been generally recognised that information such as name address and telephone number was generally part of the public record so not regarded as ‘personal’.   In fact, even if that basic information was held on computer and included an email address it was still not regarded as a problem.  However as from May 28th, 2018 this is now longer the case and any data you hold in whatever form is subject to the new General Data Protection Regulations.

Don’t Panic

Do not panic: it is not as bad as it sounds.  If you think about it is it all perfectly straightforward and reasonable but you do need to comply because by its very nature the Internet is an open source for information and the same techniques used by Facebook, Amazon and the rest to track you to bring you advertisements which they feel will be of interest to you are likely to be used to measure your activity online and will highlight those who are not registered or not complying.  So I recommend that you apply for the aim is sensible: to allow individuals to stay in control of their personal information and to ensure that those organisations that hold your personal data protect it, use it responsibly and do not sell it or distribute it without your permission.

If you are already registered you will have received details of how to update your registration.  Otherwise the first thing to do is to register.  You will almost certainly need to do so but you can check by going to this link and answering the questions posed .  At the end of the short survey you are told whether or not you need to register or not and if you do, you are licked directly to the registration page.  It takes about 15 minutes to complete so is not onerous or complicated.   However, please note you will be asked to identify one person within your business who is going to be responsible for data protection.  In most businesses it will be the proprietor but in larger organisations that responsibility may fall to Human Resources or a senior manager.  You will also see that business owners have a responsibility to ensure whoever it is, thoroughly understands what is required of them: there are fines for not fulfilling the role properly.

Remember that if a separate business uses your premises then they will have to register too.  For instance, some kennels lease their grooming room and others have a field that they let out to a training club – just direct them to the link above even if they are a not-for-profit club or society.  If such activities are part of your business then one database is sufficient of course.

What you need to do

The next stage is for you to list all the data about your clients which you actually need.  I totally approve of this requirement because I get extremely irritated with those intrusive requests for information such as my age, education and ethnicity whether it is from government or any other source.  You may find that you are, without realising it already asking for more detail than you need.  Name, dogs/cats owned (you will need their details), address, telephone numbers, email address and contact details of a responsible person who can be contacted in an emergency is really all you need for any client.  What you do not need are details of their peccadillos: in fact you are now not allowed to keep personal notes about clients (‘always ‘picky’, handle with care’) and as you are duty bound to provide all the information you hold about a client on request (for free – you may not charge for so doing so) it is probably not wise in any case.

All data must be held securely so your computer must have a password, filing cabinets or card indexes must be locked and keys removed and kept safely when the office is unattended.  You should also instruct any staff with access to personal data of the importance of keeping them safe.  Mentioning staff – their stored data falls under the GDPA too so must be secure and held safely.

Next you must inform your clients about what data you are storing and why.  You do not need to contact them them but after 28th May you should have a leaflet/form to hand to each client for them to complete. I have created an example for you to amend and use. If you sign up to the National Register of Boarding Kennels and Catteries ( – it is free to join you can download an editable word processing copy which you can amend to your own requirements.

Within the data protection notice I have tried to include all the points demanded by the legislation so you do not have to keep any other records of what you do and how you do it.  ‘Keep it Simple’ has always been my mantra and just because the legislation seems complicated does not mean we have to do any more than absolutely necessary. Incidentally, if you do contact clients with any marketing or general advertising, you need to ensure there is an opt-out button within the mailing.

Data Protection Notice and Permission to hold contact details for all clients of (insert business name as filed with the General Data Protection Register)

To comply with the current legislation on data protection we must tell you what personal data we hold about you, why we hold it and have your permission to retain it.  We store data about clients to ensure we can contact them by mail, telephone or email:

  • in an emergency
  • about booking reminders
  • our regular newsletter
  • any special offers

You can opt-out of any marketing contacts if you wish by ticking the appropriate box on the form below.

Any data we hold will not be provided to any other person or business except as required by law.

  • You may request to see all the personal data we hold on you (we are allowed 30 days to provide it)
  • We only keep your data for the reasons outlined above
  • We destroy your data if we have had no contact with you for (x) years
  • For the smooth and efficient running of xxxx kennels we need to keep a record of
    • Your name
    • Your Address
    • Your landline and mobile telephone numbers
    • Your email address
    • Contact details of another responsible person in case of emergency
    • The details of your pet/s
    • The name and telephone number of your veterinary surgeon

For us to be able to hold these records we need your permission so please complete this form and hand it to our receptionist.

Your full name: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________________________________

Your email address: __________________________________

I agree that ( xxxx kennels) may contact me, my veterinary surgeon or my named emergency contact as necessary

In an emergency

To remind me of appointments/bookings

Our Newsletter*

About offers and services which may be of interest to me*

*I understand I can opt out of further marketing contact at any time on request.

Signature ___________________________________

Clients must tick the first two boxes.  Ticking the subsequent boxes is optional


David Cavill is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Institute of Directors, Studies Coordinator of the Animal Care College ( and wrote the College’s Diploma of Kennel Management.  He has managed a very large boarding kennels and cattery and owned a small kennel and cattery too.  He edited, revised and finally rewrote Sheila Zabawa’s Running Your Own Boarding Kennels, published by Kogan Page now, in its fourth edition.  He administers a series of information sites for the pet industry which include,,  and



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