Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.29 Pets in Foster Carers Homes

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The aim of this policy is to provide guidance regarding pets in the fostering household.

AMENDMENT

In January 2017 a new Pet Questionnaire for Foster Carers was appended to this chapter.


Contents

  1. Policy Statement
  2. Dangerous Pets
  3. Number of Dogs/Pets
  4. Working Dogs and Animals in Rural Communities
  5. Health, Safety and Hygiene
  6. Action should a pet injure a child
  7. Children and Young People being placed where there are animals and pets

    Appendix 1: Pet Questionnaire for Foster Carers


1. Policy Statement

Pets in foster homes can be of benefit and in some placements seen as therapeutic. However some pets can also pose a risk to children. Working together with foster carers, Slough Children's Services Trust will endeavour to ensure that the welfare of children and young people is protected at all times. Any potential implications by foster carers having pets will be assessed on the individual needs of the placement.

The aim of this policy is to provide guidance regarding pets in the fostering household, where applicable specialist advice will be commissioned. A Pet Questionnaire must be completed for all animals in placement.


2. Dangerous Pets

Foster carers will not be permitted to own pets that is registered or required to be registered under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

Foster carers will not be permitted to own any breed of dog that is registered or required to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/1997. The dogs are:

  • Pit Bull Terriers;
  • Japanese Tosa;
  • Dogo Argentines;
  • Fila Brazillieros.

A safety assessment of all dogs in foster carers' homes will be carried out.

Further caution will be taken when assessing households containing: 

  • Alsatian;
  • German Shepherd;
  • Rottweiler;
  • Doberman;
  • Bulldog.
Slough Children's Services Trust will seek appropriate advice and support if there are any concerns regarding potential of risk of a breed of animal or dog.


3. Number of Dogs/Pets

Foster carers who have more than one dog in the placement will need to consider the interaction between the dogs and the implications of this for placements.

Consideration required for foster carers and supervising social workers; 

  • Are the dogs extremely obedient and calm together;
  • Are the dogs who individually are quite manageable, excited by each other that could result in a child being hurt.

Foster carers and supervising social workers need to be mindful of the dynamic between the different dogs. Foster carers will need to demonstrate they are able to control the dogs in placement. (NB. It is generally easier to manage one boisterous dog than to manage three or four dogs)

Households with more than two dogs will require on going monitoring during supervision meetings, to ensure that the dogs will not compromise the quality of care being provided to the children placed.

There will be the same level of monitoring on the number and combination of pets in a household to make sure that the care provided is not compromised.


4. Working Dogs and Animals in Rural Communities

All working dogs e.g. Police dogs, Farm dogs, Sheep dogs; must be kept in a secure area outside the fostering home. Children in placement must not be able to gain access to where the dogs are kept. A report/letter from the family's vet detailing the type of work undertaken by the animal would be need.

Animals and Dogs kept for breeding will require specific and individual assessment. As in the case of working dogs, the animals must be kept in a secure and separate area outside of the fostering home which is not accessible to children and young people.

If foster carers are breeding five dog litters or more then the household will need to be formally registered under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999.


5. Health, Safety and Hygiene

Foster Carers who have pets will need to be aware of the health risks that are associated with pets’ e.g.

  • Cat scratches, bites and litter trays, which can cause Toxoplasmosis;
  • Toxocara canis, a parasite that lives inside dogs’ bodies;
  • Psittacosis, sometimes called Parrot Fever, although relevant to other birds.

The following expectation for fostering households with pets and animals

  • Pets are expected to be well cared for. Dogs and Cats should be wormed and fleaed regularly. All vaccinations should be up-to-date;
  • All pets are to be looked after in a hygienic way; their food and water must be fresh and not contaminate human food preparation areas. All outside areas should be kept clean of fouling. All faeces and litter trays must be cleaned regularly and not present any risk to humans;
  • Pets in cages must be kept clean and gloves should be worn when cleaning;
  • Gloves should also be worn when cleaning cat litter trays;
  • Where cats are kept, babies should be protected by the use of a net on prams and pushchairs;
  • Households should not have any offensive odours resulting from owning pets. Any animal hair, feathers or other mess coming from animals should be regularly cleaned, swept or vacuumed;
  • Deliberation must be given to animals sleeping in the children or young people’s bedroom. Apart from as hygiene considerations, there is an additional risk of suffocation to small children, particularly by cats and small dogs.


6. Action should a pet injure a child

If a dog or other pet in the household bites, scratches or in any way injures a fostered child, the foster carer must take the following actions immediately:

  • Remove the animal from the household to ensure that the child feels safe;
  • Give the child appropriate first aid and seek medical advice / attention as soon as possible;
  • Notify the Fostering Supervising Social Worker and Child’s Social Worker to discuss any concerns about the pet being reintegrated into the home;
  • Complete an Accident / Incident recording form;
  • Record the incident on the Daily / Weekly dairy recording sheet.


7. Children and Young People being placed where there are animals and pets

Integrating children and young people into a placement where there are animals and pets can be a slow process:

  • Consider increasing affection shown to your pets after placement to lessen jealousy of a child;
  • Avoid pets witnessing all of the affection being shown to a child, to avoid exclusion from attention given;
  • Introduce your pet to the child slowly. A large dog may be friendly to you, but can appear terrifying to a young child. Safety gates may need to be used for a while until both get used to each other;
  • If in any doubt consult your vet for advice about the behaviour of your pets.


Appendix 1: Pet Questionnaire for Foster Carers

Appendix 1: Pet Questionnaire for Foster Carers

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