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3.7.10 Pets Policy


This was updated in September 2014 to note some changes in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 effective from May 2014 (see Section 2, Prohibited Animals).


  1. Short Breaks in the Home and Pets
  2. Prohibited Animals
  3. Assessing Pets
  4. Matching

1. Short Breaks in the Home and Pets

Many people who apply to become foster carers will have pets. Southwark accepts that pets can play an important part in a child's development and children may develop close relationships with them.

Pets also may present a danger to a child through the risk of injury, the risk of transmittable diseases and by a child's susceptibility to allergic reactions. The fostering service has a responsibility to undertake a risk assessment to assess a child's safety whilst being cared for by foster carers and the presence in the home of a pet will be a factor that forms part of a prospective foster carer's assessment for approval.

If a new pet becomes part of a foster carer's household after approval, the foster carer must inform their fostering social worker and a risk assessment must be undertaken.

2. Prohibited Animals

Care for a child cannot take place in a foster carer's home if they have any dogs which come within the terms of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, e.g. Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Towser, Dogo Argentino or Fila Braziliero.

Note: the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is amended with effect from 13 May 2014 by the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. It extends to private places: the offence of owning or being in charge of a dog that is dangerously out of control (previously in a public place). It provides that a dog attack on an assistance dog constitutes an aggravated offence; and ensures that the courts can take account of the character of the owner of the dog, as well as of the dog, when assessing whether a dog should be destroyed on the grounds that it is a risk to the public.

Care for a child cannot take place in a foster carer's home if they have any animals that have to be registered under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

In addition the following dogs will also generally not be allowed to come into contact with a child unless supervised: Rottweiler, German Shepherd dog, Doberman or Bulldog; however these can be decided on a case by case basis.

Any animal which, in the assessing social worker's opinion, is aggressive, or has a history of aggression, should not be allowed in contact with a child.

The advice of Southwark Council's animal warden, safety officer or a similar profession should be sought in circumstances that are unclear.

3. Assessing Pets

Pets must not cause any unreasonable risks to the health, safety or welfare of a child being cared for by a foster carer. As part of the approval process, the assessing social worker must ascertain the following:

  1. That there are hygienic arrangements for the care (sleeping, feeding, litter trays) of a pet.
  2. That there is adequate supervision to ensure the safety of the child (and pet)
  3. That the child and pet can be separated if necessary.
  4. That the pet is able to tolerate the presence of children.
  5. That the pet has had up-to-date vaccinations and is wormed and regularly treated for fleas, where appropriate.
  6. That the places, i.e. floors, furniture, where a child may play, are cleaned regularly of pet hair.

Link foster carers and/or the assessing social worker must fill in the pet owners' questionnaire.

4. Matching

A risk assessment should be undertaken when a child is matched with a foster carer taking into account the pet's temperament, the child's ability to understand how to behave with animals, any allergies, and any other risks.