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So, you are good with animals and want to turn your hobby into a career. There are a few ways that you can do this. One of the best ways is to open up a pet store. A pet store is a shop that sells pets and pet-related products. These animals can range from birds, fish and reptiles. Opening a pet store allows you to run your own business whilst enjoying what you do. However, there are certain laws and regulations you need to follow when running a pet store. This article will outline what those regulations are and how to ensure you abide by them. 

Starting a Business

Business Structure

Before you open your pet store, you must first decide what business structure you want the pet store to have. The three main business structures are sole trader, partnership and company. Each one of these structures is unique and comes with its benefits. 

For example, if you have plans for growth, it might be best to set up a company. This is because a company is a separate legal entity and gives you limited liability. Limited liability means that you are not personally liable for company debts. Setting up your business as a company also makes it easier to sell your business when the time comes. However, setting your business up as a company also means that you will be subject to the company tax rate of 28% on all profits. 

To set up a company, you must register it on the companies register. This is a register of all the companies in New Zealand and is publicly available for anyone to view.


Once you have set up your business, you can then decide whether you want to employ anyone. As it is unlikely that you will be able to operate your store at all times, consider hiring hard-working people. Your staff will ensure the operation of your store to the highest standard. Furthermore, as your store is specialised, make sure your employees have some knowledge dealing with animals. 

When you employ someone, you should enter into an employment agreement with them. An employment agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and an employee that details the terms and conditions of the employment. These terms will include details about:

  • pay;
  • leave; and
  • responsibilities.

The employment agreement will also determine how to terminate the contract and how much notice your employees must give you before leaving the business. It is also essential that your employment contract contains details about any staff training and how your employees need to care for the animals. 


Animal Welfare Act

As a pet store owner in charge of animals, you are subject to the Animal Welfare Act (the Act). The Act’s purpose is to make sure that pet store owners and staff treat animals fairly and to stop the abuse of animals. Likewise, the Act states that as a person in charge of animals, you are responsible for ensuring that your animals’ physical and behavioural needs are met according to good practice and scientific knowledge.


If you have to transport an animal for any reason, you must be doing this consistently with the terms of the Act. Additionally, you must provide all animals with comfortable accommodation and food and water during the transport. You must also properly attend to the welfare of the animal.


The SPCA sends out inspectors to businesses involved with animals to ensure they are following the rules. Therefore, you must follow all the terms in the Animal Welfare Act as you could be subject to imprisonment for up to 12 months if you are convicted of an offence. You could also receive a fine of up to $50000.

Key Takeaways

Starting a business in a field of interest is an excellent way to set your business up for success. This is because you will enjoy growing and working on your business. When starting a pet store in New Zealand, ensure you have prepared appropriately before starting the operation. The first step to take is determining what business structure you want to apply to your business. You must then follow all regulations under the Animal Welfare Act to avoid fines or imprisonment for non-compliance. 

For any legal assistance with setting up a pet store, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a special licence to open a pet store?

No, however, there are courses that you can take to make yourself more reputable to your customers.

Should my employees know about the Animal Welfare Act?

It is good to ensure that your employees are aware of their obligations. One way you can do this is by offering your staff training.

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