Fostering with Pets!

Can I be a foster carer if I have pets? In this blog we aim to inform you about fostering with pets.

This is an area that can be misunderstood – many potential foster carers may think that having a dog or cat may impact on their chances of being a foster carer overall. This is generally not the case and the opposite, in that the pet can enhance the child or young person’s experiences.

Having a pet is part of your family and therefore the pet can play a positive role in bringing continued happiness to your home and to the child or young person that joins your home.

There are areas to be considered and it is important that there is pet assessment as part of your application to become foster carers. Our experienced assessors can complete this, meet your pet and talk this through.

Please see the potential questions you may covered below relating to pets and fostering.

What are the extra steps for my fostering assessment if a have a pet?

There would be a completed pet assessment for your pet – yes that is right, their own assessment! Depending on the actual animal, they can behave differently and there would want to be any unnecessary risks from the pet being part of the home. For example, if you have a larger dog, you would need to set boundaries with a younger child or restrict access between rooms for the dog. Or alternatively, if the pet is smaller and safe, like a goldfish, the risks are far lower of course.

You need to consider any practical areas at the home for the pets space, day to day routines and how they fit into the fostering household. There is also the good hygiene expectations for the animal and not letting them do anything within the household.

Does a pet help with fostering?

This can be very much the case! The child or young person may really connect with a pet and it would give them a sense of relationships, love for the animal and bonding together. It would be having the right pet that wouldn’t unsettle the child or young person.

There are the common sense areas and other considerations when matching which can be factor – for example, if a child or young person maybe allergic to animal hair or had previous negative experiences with a particular animal.

If the pet unfortunately passes away or goes missing, you would also need to talk through any feelings of loss with the child or young person.

Pictures, fun time with pets and their love can very much enhance the fostering support and experiences for the child or young person. There are many amazing pictures showing the happiness of pets with their families including foster children.

If we don’t have pet when we start fostering, can we get a pet later?

Yes you can get a pet and again it is a matter of considering this on a practical level, how it would impact on your household and together. If you first discuss this with your social worker, who can provide relevant information about the considerations. Your annual fostering review would also cover this.

Can the child or young person have their own pet?

When a child or young person first joins your home at the start of their placement, they wouldn’t usually have a pet with them. If they do, the pet will unlikely to be a dog or pet due to practical considerations and would be a smaller pet that can travel with them or be moved more easily. This maybe a guinea pig for example. If you help the child or young person to keep their pet if there is good bond and affection. It would be important as source of support and good feeling for the child or young person. The information on their pets would be shared at the referral stage for practical planning.

As the child or young person settles in your home, there would be nothing preventing you from getting them a pet directly if they have a wish for this. You would just need to talk it through with your social worker and if needed have your fostering assessment updates and any safety checks completed for your home. For example, if you had a new dog, making sure the dog didn’t access a young person’s room easily.

Are any pets not allowed?

The main category would be dangerous dogs that could present a high risk and or may frighten others. There is the Dangerous Dog Act which covers these which was passed in 1991 and restricts certain dogs being out of control in public and private space, including your foster home. The dogs banned include Pitbull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino, fila Brasilerio and more recently, American XL bully (added in 2023).

There could be other pets not allowed if they were dangerous and presented a high level of risk. This should be considered on a case by case overall.

What about my friend’s pet? Can they visit?

If you have a friend or other relative with a pet, they can visit your household but following due care and safety. The child or young person may have interacted with a dog before for example, so it would be exploring this first and any risks for the fostering household.

If you have any questions relating to pets and fostering, please just contact us and ask! We can cover all your questions about having pets, their safety, well being and assessment –>