So, you’ve got two dogs, three cats, a parrot and five chickens. Can you still foster?
The short answer is yes, providing your pets are deemed safe.
Foster Carers comes from all walks of life and many of them have dogs or other furry companions.
However, certain types of dogs are banned in the UK, which means you could not apply to foster if your dog resembles one of those breeds.
For reference, they are:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasilerio
Even if your dog matches many of the characteristics of these banned types, it is unlikely you could foster.
Providing your dog is not a banned type, you should consider how they would respond to a new member of the household.
If that is no concern, it might be time to start your fostering journey…
How do you decide if the pets are safe?
As part of the fostering assessment a social worker will complete risk assessments for your pets with the key points being:
- How and where are the animals to be kept?
- Will they be accessible to the foster child?
- What will be the risks to the health and safety of the child?
- How would the foster carer feel/react if their animals were ‘hurt’ by the child?
If you have more than three dogs (defining a ‘pack’), either a specialist dog behavioural risk assessment must be completed, or Veterinary references obtained.
Ultimately, the safety of the child must be paramount.
Additional caution may be needed for very young children. For example, with parent and child placements and with children under 5.
The size of a dog and whether the dog has lived with children or has experience of children is important. Foster carers should always be able to supervise both the child and their dog(s).
“I have 3 dogs and they are really beneficial for the two girls I foster. They give the place a homely feel. If one of the girls is not getting on particularly well with you or if there is a clash between them, the dogs often break the ice.
One of the girls had a lot of placement moves before living with me. Her school pastoral care actually said they wished she had lived with a dog the whole time after seeing the positive impact it is having”
Alison, Foster Carer
Benefits of fostering with animals
We cannot talk about dogs or pets in general without discussing the many benefits they bring when matched appropriately to a young person.
Dogs have been human companions for thousands of years. They offer unconditional affection, expecting nothing in return for wanting to cuddle and kiss and smooch all over you.
Dogs also keep you active by getting out a few times a day for the essentials, opening the door to responsible care-giving which can be hugely beneficial to young people.
And it isn’t just dogs. Cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and all manner of domesticated animals can be positive for children, and beneficial for adults mental health too.
They are little members of the family who want to love and be loved. By just playing with or cuddling our pets, we can benefit from the soothing, calming effect of their company.
They can help us cope with symptoms of fear, depression, anxiety and other emotions that follow a traumatic experience.
“Children in care have often been let down by the adults in their life. With dogs or other pets, they are not scared to get attached as they offer unconditional love, whereas they can be more wary of people.
Foster children often feel like they don’t belong, the dogs really give them that sense of belonging alongside the work foster carers do”.
Alison, Foster Carer
So, if your dog isn’t on the dangerous breed list – there’s no need to paws. Get in touch today for a chat and find out more about becoming a foster carer.
Healing Pasts | Building Futures
0800 5 677 677