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.”
“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.
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