Can I Own Pets if I Am Fostering in England?

Okay, so the very simple answer to the question of owning pets if you are fostering in England, is yes.

Deciding to become a foster carer is a significant and compassionate choice, one that comes with many questions and considerations. Among these is the question of whether you can continue to share your home with pets while opening your doors to a foster child. This blog delves into the interplay between pet ownership and fostering in England, shedding light on how pets can impact the fostering experience.

We’ll explore the guidelines and considerations set by fostering agencies, the therapeutic benefits pets can offer to children in care, and practical tips for creating a harmonious environment that supports the well-being of both your pets and a foster child.



Can Foster Carers Own Pets?

If you are a foster carer, hoping to begin fostering in England, pets do not prevent you from completing this journey. In reality, they can actually be a very valuable asset to a foster family.

This said, any animal in the home already, likewise, any animal looking to be brought into the foster home, will need to be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer. This assessment will take into consideration:

  • The type of animal
  • The history of the breed
  • The history of the animal’s temperament
  • Any allergies

As a pet owner, you also need to think about how you would feel and react if a child injures one of your pets. Rather than just the other way around.


Dog Breeds Not Allowed in Foster Homes

When it comes to fostering in England, the primary concern is always the safety and well-being of the foster child. This focus extends to all aspects of the home environment, including pets. While there is no universal list of dog breeds explicitly banned in foster homes, fostering agencies and local authorities may have specific guidelines or assessments to ensure that any pets in the home do not pose a risk to the foster child.

It’s important to understand that decisions about pets in foster homes are often made on a case-by-case basis, rather than based on breed alone. Factors such as the individual dog’s temperament, the child’s comfort and experience with animals, and the overall home environment play critical roles in these decisions.


Key Considerations for Dog Ownership in Foster Homes

  • Risk Assessment: Fostering agencies conduct thorough risk assessments of all pets in a prospective foster home. This includes evaluating the dog’s behaviour, history of aggression (if any), and how well it can be controlled by the owner.
  • Child’s Background: Some children may have had traumatic experiences with dogs or other animals. In such cases, even a well-behaved pet might not be suitable for a foster home.
  • Breed Temperament and Reputation: While not outright banned, breeds known for strong guarding instincts or those that have historically been associated with aggression might require more stringent assessments. Agencies may be more cautious with breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers, among others.
  • Training and Socialisation: Dogs that are well-trained and have been socialised to be comfortable around children and strangers are generally viewed more favourably during the assessment process.
  • Health and Safety: Ensuring that the dog is healthy, well-cared-for, and up-to-date on vaccinations is crucial. The fostering agency may also look at the living arrangements to ensure there is adequate space for both the child and the pet.
  • Legal Considerations: It’s also essential to be aware of the broader legal context regarding dog ownership in the UK. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 specifies breeds that are considered particularly dangerous and are banned in the UK, including the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro. While this law applies to all residents, foster carers need to be particularly mindful of it.


Advantages of Owning Pets When Fostering Children

As we have explored, fostering in England will still allow you to have pets in the foster home. With this in mind, there are a number of advantages pets can bring into the dynamic.

  1. Companionship and Emotional Support: pets can help to reduce feelings of loneliness, stress, and anxiety. They provide unconditional love and support.
  2. Responsibility and Life Skills: caring for a pet can instil responsibility and empathy, having ownership of tasks such as grooming, feeding, walking etc.
  3. Physical Activity: pets encourage physical activity, which promotes overall heath and wellbeing for the entire foster family.
  4. Sense of Belonging: pets can create a sense of stability and routine. Two very important factors when welcoming a child into foster care.


How To Ensure Safety With Pets in Foster Homes

Ensuring safety with pets in foster homes is a crucial aspect of fostering in England. It involves creating an environment where both the foster child and pets can coexist harmoniously and safely. The first step is to conduct a thorough assessment of the pet’s temperament, ensuring they are well-suited to being around children, especially those who may have experienced trauma. This includes observing the pet’s behaviour around strangers and during unexpected situations to gauge their predictability and gentleness.

In addition to assessing the pet, it’s essential to educate and prepare the foster child. This might involve teaching them how to interact safely with animals, recognising signs of discomfort or aggression in pets, and establishing clear boundaries and rules for interactions. Foster parents should also create a structured environment where pets have their own safe spaces, reducing the chances of stress or territorial behaviour. Regular training, exercise, and veterinary care for the pet ensure they remain healthy and well-behaved, further contributing to a safe and nurturing home environment for everyone involved.


In conclusion, having pets whilst fostering in the UK is not only allowed, but actually celebrated. Head over to the Family Fostering Partners website to learn more about having pets in the foster home.



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