Families with dogs rejected as foster carers

Children|February 10th 2015

A significant number of potential foster carers with dogs are being rejected by local authorities who worry that their homes may not be safe for young children.

Social workers have become much more cautious about such potential foster carers, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has claimed, in light of a reported rise in the number of dog attacks across England last year.

Families who own breeds listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act are already excluded as foster carers by most local authorities, but, BAAF claims, many have also begun to rule out families looking to adopt children younger than 11 who own large dogs like border collies and Alsatians.

The exclusions continue despite a national shortage of foster carers as well as research highlighting the emotional and social benefits of dog ownership.

Social workers are confused by this suspicion of dog owners, BAAF claims, and many struggle to decide which breeds are suitable and which are not.

BAAF foster care development consultant Paul Adams said he had attended fostering panel meetings and observed that many “… dominant panel members considered dogs a nuisance and saw them only as a risk in fostering settings.”

He added:

“This was evident in terms of panel members comments that assumed large dogs especially were unhygienic, and expecting that applicants would be willing to get rid of their dogs if circumstances made it necessary.”

BAAF has now published guidance on the issue, written by Mr Adams, designed to help local authorities develop “proportionate” policies on dog and pet ownership.

The guidance is available here.

Photo by Dave Wild via Flickr

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  1. Andrew says:

    There is no such thing as a safe dog if the dog is there first. If the dog gets jealous it may attack the child. There are also considerations of cleanliness and hygiene.

  2. Luke says:

    This is a nonsense, obviously if a potential foster carer has a dog listed by the Dangerous Dogs Act that is a non-starter – but if not then there should be no issue unless something untoward has been observed – otherwise every pregnant woman who has a dog in the house should be advised that her child will be removed at birth !

  3. Andrew says:

    Come off it, Luke. There is all the difference in the world between a child being in the parents’ home in the ordinary course – if they keep a dog, well, they do, and it’s too bad – and the State placing a child in a home where there is a dog, which it should not do. If they really want to foster they will get rid of the dog and if they don’t get rid of the dog they don’t really want to foster.

  4. Luke says:

    I disagree, there isn’t, and despite your protestations you don’t make a coherent argument for it – “too bad” doesn’t work !
    If you don’t trust foster parents to have a dog that can be trusted then they shouldn’t be foster parents in the first place.

  5. Andrew says:

    Luke, we are not disagreeing about foster-parents. Are you seriously suggesting that we should not allow parents of young children to keep dogs?

    “Too bad” is a crude piece of shorthand. Let me spell it out in longhand.

    The remedy would be worse than the evil.

    • Luke says:

      “Are you seriously suggesting that we should not allow parents of young children to keep dogs?”
      No, OBVIOUSLY I’m not – I’m pointing out the ludicrousness of the position.
      You can spell it out in long hand, but it is still not a logical argument…
      We are apparently ABSOLUTELY DESPERATE for foster carers, according to another article on this very blog – yet we are discounting good and willing people who own any type of dog – I feel like I’m in a Monty Python sketch 🙂

  6. Becky says:

    There is no such thing as a bad dog but a poor owner. I have had three dogs, two from pups and have been brought up around children but I would never leave them with children. Children can be unpredictable and this isn’t fair on the dog to blamed for something that is instinct for the dog to do but protect itself. Words of warning never leave dog alone with child no matter how much you trust both!

    • Luke says:

      Yes Becky, and let’s not allow children to play outside either in case they get taken by the Bogey Man !
      My relative has 4 children and 3 dogs, reasonable precautions and knowledge of the dog and ‘testing of the water’ has to be done initially but other than that this is not generally a problem.
      We have a MASSIVE shortage of foster carers and yet these idiots are stopping children have a chance with good families because they have a family dog – ANY family dog !

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