The Social Worker tells me I have to get rid of my pets?

This is a guest post from suesspicious minds, a family lawyer who offers very good and practical advice to parents. Have a look at his blog.

I was recently contacted by someone who found themselves in this position, and it is an issue that crops up quite regularly in care proceedings. It may sound (if you don’t own a pet) like a really trivial matter, but for many people it can be very upsetting and add to a sense of powerlessness.

As usual with my articles where I try to speak directly to parents rather than the dull lawyer-to-lawyer stuff, none of what I say is a substitute for getting your own legal advice and talking to your own lawyer.


Thinking of getting a pet, or another pet?

If you’re involved with social workers and they are already expressing worries about your care of the child, you should really think long and hard about getting another pet, and if your mind is made up on having one,  about the sort of pet you are going to get. You don’t want to do anything that is going to make life harder for you right now.

Think about the mess that the pet might make, the money it might cost, the time it might take to train and walk and play with and clean up after the animal. Do you really have that time or money to spare?


Can the social worker MAKE me get rid of my pet? 

They can certainly ask you to. They can ask you to sign a written agreement saying that you will get rid of your pet.  But they have no power to make you give your pet up, or take your pet away from you.

The most that they can do is to tell the RSPCA about your pet, and see if the RSPCA will take any action. Now, they can only do that if there are significant concerns about the condition of your pet and that you are harming it or not looking after it properly.


Can the Court MAKE me get rid of my pet?

Not in Children Act proceedings no. The clue is in the name. The Court can only MAKE you give up your pet or take your pet off you if the RSPCA are the people making the application, and that would be in completely different Court proceedings to the ones about your children.


Can the social worker / Court make it very very hard for me to keep my pet?

Well, yes, they sort of can. If the situation justifies it, it is possible that you would be told  “If you don’t get rid of your dog/cat/snake/vulture, the baby can’t stay at home” and then you would have to make that decision. It would be up to your lawyer to make arguments to prevent you getting into that position i.e that you shouldn’t have to choose and you can make changes that would let you do both.

The Court DOES have the power in Children Act proceedings to take your child off you, but the circumstances that would justify that are serious and require good evidence.

Have a look at our posts on key legal principles that explain what the Court can and can’t do.


Why would people WANT me to give up my pet?

It is always fair that if a social worker asks you to give up your pet that they can give you a proper answer to that question.

The possible answers might be

That the pet presents a danger to your child.

Obviously, the more dangerous the animal and the more vulnerable the child, the bigger that risk becomes. It is very unlikely that your pet stick insect is dangerous to your twelve year old, but it is possible that your venomous snake is dangerous to your six month old baby.

IF that is the reason, you would need to think seriously about the danger. Is it genuine? What is there that you could do about it? If it is about a dog that doesn’t have boundaries and jumps up or bites or snarls, could you get some training, or a muzzle? If it is a snake, could you keep the snake in a room or tank that the child can’t get into and the snake can’t get out of? Could you potentially have a less dangerous pet?

Of course, if the danger is not realistic and is an over-reaction, you or your lawyer can argue this in the Court.

 That the pet is not being looked after and is causing a health risk

For example, if your dog or cat is weeing or poo-ing around the house and you can’t keep on top of clearing it up, then there’s a risk that your children might be exposed to this. Again, the younger your child is, and the bigger the problem with the mess is, the more this is a genuine problem.

It isn’t healthy, obviously, for a baby to be crawling around in dog or cat pooh or wee, and if it doesn’t get cleaned up properly and regularly, this can create a nasty smell in the house, particularly in the summer and can make the house seem unpleasant. It is possible, when you live in the house that you get used to it and it doesn’t seem as noticeable to you, but it is very obvious for visitors.

Or the animal might have fleas, and those fleas are infesting the house and biting the children, getting into the children’s bedding.

IF that is the reason, you may have to show over a very short period of time that you can fix the problem and keep on top of it, get all the mess cleaned up and keep it clean; get the animal treated for fleas and deal with the infestation. You’ll need to show not only that you can sort it out once, but that you have a plan that you will stick to that stops it happening again.

That you can’t really afford  both your pet and your child

Obviously, pets cost money. Children cost money. You aren’t made of money. There’s juggling to be done with the money you have to pay for everything you need. If you are regularly running out of money and have things for your child that you can’t afford (shoes, clothes, toys, heating, food) then it might well be that the social worker suggests that your pet should go, to free up that money.

The more pets you have, and the more expensive their upkeep, the bigger an argument this becomes. Similarly, the more often you are running out of money and not being able to get everything you need for your child, the more likely this argument is to come up.

Sit down and work out how much it does cost to look after your pets. If you are not very good at maths, you can ask for help in working this out, and in working out a budget. Can you show that you can manage both your pet and your child by managing your money better, or by cutting something else out or spending less on it? Can you buy slightly cheaper pet food? Do you maybe have too many animals?

If you can show WHY you can manage both, by doing that budget, and then show that you ARE managing both by not running out of money before your next income comes in, you can nip this argument in the bud. 

That you can’t split your time between the pet and the child 

If the social worker thinks that you are only just about able to manage to look after your child, and that maybe your level of care goes up and down and is sometimes okay and sometimes not, they may say that you need to put all of your efforts into caring for your child and not be distracted by anything else.

Again, the more animals and the more time those animals need, the bigger that argument is. Also, the more problems you are having in coping with everything that needs to be done in the house, the bigger that argument will be.

If you CAN keep on top of everything, keep the house in good order, spend enough time looking after your child and playing with your child, then this becomes much less of a worry or an argument for giving up your pet.  If you need help in getting a household routine, or working out how to make the best use of your time each day, that’s something that you can ask for help with and that you are entitled to help with. You want to find out whether the problem is that there literally aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, or whether what you need is help to organise things better.


Have an open mind

You obviously wouldn’t want to give up your pet, who is a member of your family, who you love,  if the reasons were silly or an over-reaction. But it is important to think very seriously about the reasons that are given to see if there actually is a problem here.  If there really is a problem, think about whether you can solve it, or if it is honestly too much for you. 


Where would your animal go?

This is a hard one – you wouldn’t want to give your pet away to strangers and never see them again. It would be good if you were able to have them back once you’ve sorted yourself out and are in a better place to manage both your pet and your child.

If there is someone in your family who could look after your pet for a while, whilst you sort things out, that would be a good option. Make sure that looking after this pet isn’t going to get them in trouble with social workers themselves.

If not them, then a friend?

If you absolutely have to give your pet up (and remember, it is ultimately your choice, nobody can MAKE you do it), then it is okay to be upset about this, even angry about it. If you can, explain how it made you feel, and use it as a positive:

I gave up my dog to show you people that you were wrong and that I can look after my child, so I am going to do it.

Further Reading

There is very useful guidance from the BAAF ;‘Dogs and Pets in Fostering and Adoption’ by Paul Adams (BAAF Adoption and Fostering (2015); 978 1 910039 25 0; £9.95; 88 pages)

From the Dogs Clinic there is advice on how to recognise dog’s body language and keep children safe – Kids and Dogs: A Parent’s Guide to Canine Body Language and Safety. 

48 thoughts on “The Social Worker tells me I have to get rid of my pets?

  1. Steph

    Hi im not sure if this is to ask a question but I need help im stuck and just need a littld guidence, any way iv got a 4 year old social got involved gor the high number of pets I had things got sorted I even moved, they got involved for a second time as I was advised by my surd start worker she could get me a grant to get nes flooring as the carpets werd old and carpets and dogs are no good and ig holds smells in, I stupidly got excited and pulled up all my carpets to be told she got knocked back for a grant to re-floor my hous
    e, my health visitor wasnt happy with therd being no flooring down and kept complain and after we were knocked back a second time she said she has no choice to contact the social and they would help me well social came round never helped me with anything just complained about property and smell of pets say my dogs were bfing in poo on therd paws from back garden and was evident on wall when it wasnt poo it was mud, any way I eventualy found my own way of finding enough money to carpet my house social were happy and stopped involvment, social found out I was pregnant again and spring a suprise visit on me, I let them in had a good chat sayin I wasnt happy there werd harassing me aboug being preg ect… anyway she left was happy I later lost baby, we had a fes disagreements with nabours in street ect…. and they were ringin every survice they could to try and get us removed from street, Rspca, environmental health, council and of course social, so my social worker came out when I had puppies at time and seen no problem she was happy and left. A couple of months later I had ran out of gass and electricity and partner had blocked my post office card so was unable to take money out so i could put credit on, i was in london so when I came bk house was in darkness couldnt tidy up any mess off puppies house smelt so fist thing in morning I went down to council office to try and get a loan to put credit on to sort my house out, my partner was smart and when electric ran out he took her straigh to my sisters so wasnt in the house, anyway council said they have to contact social to provide what I needed I agreed, so met social worker at the council office I adviced her I hadnt cleaned puppy mess up yet as just came straight out she said no problem but when she came in to check meters (make sure masnt lieing) she wasnt happy witch I said I told u puppy mess needed cleaning she left not happy rsng her manager and came bk wigh credit for meters by this time 30 mins had passed and puppies were well cleaned and house sorted by then, she said her manager wasnt happy and presented me with a form I had go sign sayin my daughter must stay with her antie (my sister) untill puppies were rdhomed and all gone I agreed, puppies are long gone and and risk assessments and parental assessment carried out, took 5 months from now puppies left 6 nearly 7 months ago. Anyway therd now sayin I have to get rid of every animal I have other wise I wont get my child back and they will go to court and take her if I dont do so, (like to point out I had 21 animals not including puppies as they were never keepers, now I only have 11, two of witch live out side in hutch and one in a fish tank) I rehoused them off my own back no one told me to do so….. anyway there saying im prioritising my pets over my child as iv made no attempt to reduce to a mord managable amount they say my house has to be at a tidy and clean standard witch it is and has been since last referral, when they come in they say iv made improvement but have never advised me to do anything or advised what needs inproving, they say iven tho befor laying my new lino flooring and bleaching then dettoling all floor boards bdfor laying that ghey can still smell anoniea but not in room that they werd concerned about its now my front room were iv had people intentionally braugh in to my home and they say they smell nothing, but yet they have done no checks to prove I cant maintail the standards they ecpect, my social worker in thd 5 months has only looked around 3 times last time I had to tell her to as she wasnt going, to my other social worker (who did parental assesment) has only looked round 3 times within 4 months, to me they can not make a judgement on my home and capabilities with the very little they sern within my home, they said there purly going off past reports and my understanding of risk capability to maintain hygiene when pardntal assesment were carried out so basically what they hurd from me, my question is ard they wrong in the way they have done assesment on my capabilities to maintain and prioritise, should they have done a new assesment of my property and do they have a right to make me choose between my pets that are pedigree and used at community snd chsmpionship shows and my baby girl do they have the right to go to court and take my baby if I dont get rid of my animals

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      It sounds as if you have agreed for your child to be living away from you under section 20 of the Children Act 1989? In other words, there haven’t been any court proceedings or any order from the court to say your child can’t live with you?

      If your child is living away from you under section 20, you can withdraw your consent to that and demand that she is returned home. BUT if the social workers are worried that the house is not in a fit state for a child, they might then want to issue care proceedings. But at least that way you would get free access to a lawyer who could argue your case for you.

      the bottom line is – if you have cleaned up the house and it would be safe and hygienic for a child to live there, then your child should be living there. If you and the social workers are disagreeing about how clean you have got it, or if the social workers are refusing to come and assess how clean it is now, probably the best thing would be to go to court so a Judge can have a look at all the evidence and decide what is best.

      A child can only be removed from his parents if he has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm in their care – so yes, if the number of pets you have and the mess they make is making the home very unpleasant to live in then the court could decide that your child doesn’t come home. But if you have cleaned up and have shown you can keep it under control, then your child should be living with you, if that is the only problem they have found with your parenting.

      Maybe speak to the social worker and ask them to visit and then tell you, very clearly, what the problem is and what you have to do to sort it out. If you can’t get any clear answers, then I think all you can do is say that you want your child back home, you are no longer consenting to a section 20 agreement and see what they say.

      Good luck.

      1. Steph

        Hi thanks for ur thoughts, I have disagreed and I have a solicitor, they say that I must do what they say as even thou sicial dont gave ground to stop me fr8m having pe4s they can apply to court to take my child, what im not happy about is that during the timevmy chikd has been at my sister’s, mthey gave only done, mrisk assesment on my partner and parental assessments on us both, after assesment was complete they said there was nothing wrong with are parental capabilities and that was evident in are child but apparently im superfical and I dont understand risk that my pe4s present even thou iv said many times I do, also no home assesments have been done while shes has been awsy and I think thats wrong as they are saying im unable to maintain home conditions whike I have animals 7n the hole 5 months they have looked around my house 5 times and 1 of them times my cat hadnmessed in bath after I had just been in the4e, if course I hadnt realised (she very rarely dose that) and social came seen and because of that they said I dont ckean up mess s0thats dobe straight way made out as if after they left I wasnt going to clean it!, I show my animals there not worthless you see, so I have a stong social attachment to them not just love, they say I have 4 weeks to rehome my much loved pets or there going to court and I wont get my little girl backball the time there saying I have a choice well I dont its either kerp my pets I dont get my baby back or get rid and I do! That to me us no choice, mthere also trying to say that once I have her back im never aloud to get any more animals, to my that is wrong and they shouldnt be able to do that, they havent even did new home assessments to prove I cant maintain7n the number I haven’t, I had my social worker her the other day she looked round to write down what needed done it was the most pathetic list iv ever seen, fit light in bath room, wipe windowsills and clean back garden of dog mess, thats it and apparently I cant maintain? This to me is ridiculous and there obviously just goin off previous involvment in past house were I had 21 pets that yes I couldn’t maintain but this is stupid, mthey have further evidence after puppies were at age to be rehomed

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          It is NOT the Social Worker who makes a decision that you cannot care for the child, only a court has the power to do that. Are you going to court?

          I think you need to make an appointment with your solicitor and get him/her to explain exactly what is going on. If you don’t agree with the way the SW are handling your case, you may need to get this before a judge so it can be properly looked at.

          It’s difficult to say more without knowing what stage of proceedings you are at, if any. But the SW have a duty to try to help and support families and keep them together.

    2. Macy

      11 pets is ridiculous, I’m not surprised they were concerned, especially when you’re obviously not working, so get benefits yet still want to get other people to pay for your flooring, electric and gas! AND pregnant again. I’m surprised they let you keep your child as you’re clearly all over the place and irresponsible! Your post was 2014, I sincerely hope those poor children and animals are OK!

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      After a brief google, I am doubtful that we at CPR share the same ethos as Maggie Tuttle, but she is very welcome to contact us if she wishes.

  2. Angela McCallum

    Hi in september 2013 i was asked by social services to get rid of my 2 cats which i felt obligated to do as they were already threatening to take my children away for no reason, they say abuse, i say bullshit, courts just listened to bits of paper and happily went along with everything the social services suggested happen, so my kids have now been rehomed after me jumping through EVERY HOOP they asked me to jump through, ive been left with no support, no family or friends, FORCED me to get rid of the family pets that my eldest grew up with (shes now 8, that hurt her, no thought for her emotions) and to top it all off, they ripped her brother and sister away from and are refusing to let her see them, ripped 2 innocent children out of a loving caring home for nothing, makes me sick. There isnt even anything i can do about it! Any advice would be greatly appricitated but knowing my luck there is nothing that can be done. Thanks

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I would like to know why your lawyer permitted a court to remove your children for ‘no reason’ and why no one seems to have explained to you what was going on or what was meant by ‘abuse’. My only advice can be to speak urgently with your lawyer and ask for an explanation. It is simply not possible for this to happen for ‘no’ reason. It may well be for a reason you don’t understand or don’t agree with, but there must be a ‘reason’ given.

    2. ian josephs

      Angela give me a ring on 0033626875684 and I will try to help you. Look a my site chapter heading “what you can do” to give you an idea of how to fight for your kids.Don’t worry about cash,I WILL RING YOU BACK IF YOU ASK SO YOU DON4T PAY FOR ANY TELEPHONE CALLS I SHALL NEVER NEVER ASK YOU FOR MONEY;

  3. Bella riddle

    So I’m going to court trying to get my child back but they keep saying it’s either my pet or my baby and I’ve been keeping my house clean and keeping documents of it but they keep saying that I am not making progress and won’t even let me show them the pics and they’ve been out several time to see my house. And we have the legal amount of pets can they really tell me I have to get rid of my service pet?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Yes. They can tell you lots of things. Whether or not you have to agree with them, or do what they say is another matter. But if they are saying their worries about your pets are so serious that this means they might ask the court for permission to take your child away, you really have got to listen long and hard to what the problem is.

      Are the animals potentially dangerous? Are they making the house unclean? i.e. are you cleaning up after them? Do you have a friend who can come round and give you an honest view about what your house looks or smells like?

      Sometimes they do get nervous for no real reason – for e.g. there is a lot of prejudice about Staffys. mine is lovely and would never hurt a child, but some SW will just instantly see a ‘devil dog’.

      All I can say is really listen to what the worries are. I don’t think they would be doing this for a laugh or because they are bored. Someone seems to have genuine worries about your pets. You need to understand what those are and see what can be done to fix the problem. It may be that they are worrying for nothing. But you need to be able to talk to them to find out what is going on.

  4. Angelo Granda

    Either your pet or your baby? One does ones level best to empathise with SW’s and child-protection lawyers but this sort of thing really makes it almost impossible. What in heavens name are they talking about? If a pet is potentially dangerous then, obviously, it is your job to protect the baby from it, not theirs? Or has the dog already been proven dangerous? Has it bitten someone else or does it make a mess in the house? If so keep it in a kennel in the back yard . I have heard of other ridiculous reasons for removal but that one takes the biscuit (this year at least). Completely absurd and disproportionate to circumstances. If it is a dangerous dog then the Police should do their job and take it away under a Police Protection Order. Incidentally, when they take a dog off you, they must provide you with a copy of paperwork and get a signature from you. Dogs have more rights than children who are taken away without either.
    I don’t know your case but it sounds to me like you face one of those SW’s who is out to find the slightest little thing to throw at you not to protect your baby but to get him or her into care because of your family tree or your antecedents.
    Bella ,as an ordinary parent not a lawyer or SW, I advise you to put the dog in kennels or give it away to a relation or other good home and tell your solicitor to inform the CS you have done so.
    I have a feeling ,if you do that, they will go back through their files and legal precedents and find some other reason to warrant removal of your baby. Then take it from there.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Angelo, I know you have a certain world view and you give ‘advice’ from that world view but please – when I deal with cases where people are worried about pets, do you know what they are worried about?

      Generally because many animals have been left to shit and piss all over the house. The smell is described as over whelming. You cannot expect to bring a small baby safely home to that.

      Often people get overwhelmed and take on the care of too many pets, or they genuinely just don’t know how bad it looks or smells to outsiders because they have got used to it.

      I doubt very much that this concern is based on some irrational dislike of one well behaved dog.

      but neither of us know what is really going on. I think it’s essential that this poster is honest with herself about what is happening. If it is an unnecessary over reaction by the SW, then challenge it. But be honest. What is more important – the health and safety of your child , or of your pet? Sometimes, I am afraid, you do have to chose.

      1. Angelo Granda

        Proportionality is what ordinary parents would be worried about here .That anyone can give a mother the choice your parent or your dog is disgraceful. That any parent should put pets before their own baby is disgraceful.
        I know you have a certain world view,Sarah, but I do not and like to think I am open-minded . Why don’t you try reading what commenters write? Bella Riddle claims to have cleaned up her home and has ‘photos ( documents) to prove it but the SW won’t even look at the evidence claiming they have been out several times to look at the house. Are you saying Bella is being dishonest with herself and them?
        I suggest that the command ” Your baby or your dog” is over the top and inhumane. Even more inhumane than that is ” your parents or your baby” which is another choice they present to vulnerable young mothers. SW’s and lawyers should give more thought to proportionality when dealing with vulnerable young mothers. I wonder whether Bella has been told of her rights to an advocate, whether correct procedure has been followed or if she has been advised by a canine specialist in dog-training. I doubt it.
        Nevertheless, being open-minded, I have advised Bella to get rid of the dog .Any sane mother would do so if faced with the choice she has been given. however, I doubt that will be the end of it.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          Angelo you clearly don’t have an ‘open mind’ and nearly all your comments demonstrate that very clearly.
          your initial reaction to this post was it was about one well behaved little dog.
          You simply don’t know enough about the situation to make any assumptions.

          I agree that I can’t see the problem with three well behaved dogs who are walking regularly and are toilet trained.
          But equally I cannot agree that a social worker would make a fuss about three well behaved dogs.
          Something is going on here. It may well be some kind of over-reaction but from the poster’s own info there was certainly a situation of concern earlier when the dogs were puppies; I note she refers to them ‘making a mess’.

          Dog ownership and parenting are both HUGE responsibilities and if you find looking after dogs is getting in the way of looking after your child then yes, you do have to make a choice – and quickly.

          1. Angelo Granda

            QUOTE:you clearly don’t have an ‘open mind’ and nearly all your comments demonstrate that very clearly, your initial reaction to this post was it was about one well behaved little dog.
            You simply don’t know enough about the situation to make any assumptions : UNQUOTE.
            Sarah, I ask you with humility to read my ‘advice’ to Bella Riddle again. You have the wrong idea .Far from assuming it was about one well-behaved little dog, I considered whether it might be a dangerous or dirty dog which might give rise to hygiene concerns to a reasonable person . Bella herself had clearly acknowledged the concerns and cleaned up the house accordingly. If you must generalise and judge comments on past criticism of the system to which you perhaps take exception then please read them first.

            QUOTE:Generally because many animals have been left to shit and piss all over the house. The smell is described as over whelming. You cannot expect to bring a small baby safely home to that.Often people get overwhelmed and take on the care of too many pets, or they genuinely just don’t know how bad it looks or smells to outsiders because they have got used to it. I doubt very much that this concern is based on some irrational dislike of one well behaved dog :UNQUOTE.
            We should not make assumptions like this in cases based on what one might have seen in the past. Whether or not the house had dog -dirt in it or stank of dogs at any time ( and I believe it must have or Bella would not have owned to cleaning it up and taking photographs), I have concerns about proportionality and I believe McFarlane might do too.
            Once again, I agree with you ,Sarah. Something is going on and let’s hope Bella is another vulnerable young mother facing a social worker who has set his or her mind on taking the baby for adoption. Surely the dogs cannot be the only issue. This is why I have advised Bella to get rid of them ,even if only to kennels . Then she might discover if the dogs are the true ‘concern’.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            I agree. We cannot make any assumptions and it is dangerous to do so. The best advice we can give Bella is that she must get a clear understanding of what exactly the problem is here with her dogs. Only then will she know what she has to do or how she can challenged the social worker if he/she is just over-reacting.

    2. Viviana

      Hello , soo I’m having kind of the same similar situation in regards the pets , I have SW involved in my life , they new I had dogs my worker met them and she has even played with my puppy who was 4 months old now he’s 7 months but at 4 months old she would play with him and this and this , and now all of the sudden it’s a problem I am being forced to get rid of my dog not knowing what is the valid reason , my dog has never attack any strangers has never attack or bit my children’s he is a friend family dog who loves to be around everyone , my dog was a gift from my partner and my case worker as told me that it doesn’t matter if it was a gift from my partner or not that I still need to get rid of my dog just because of my dogs breed , and I’ve always said just because of his breed it isn’t fair that they need to judge him of thinking he’s harmful towards my children’s, I have videos of my dog how he gets when he sees my kids coming back from school on the bus , I also have photos of him being beside my baby and sleeping , til now they still haven’t gived me the valid reason why to rehome him , they are not even giving me the chance to find him a place just to hold him for couple of months to find a new house to move in because I’m in a apartment that isn’t small they don’t have records of my dog being aggressive, or my dog attacking anyone or my children’s they didn’t care when I told them that my children’s are going to cry if my dog leaves there answer was I don’t care they need to be gone my dog is what brought alot of joys and happiness to this family , so my question is if they are even allowed to force me to give my dog away without giving me some type of valid reason ??

  5. Bella riddle

    No it’s not because they are dangerous they very general and loving. But it’s because they don’t want to believe I have the situation under control they say it’s a constant problem even though they go out regularly there is no mess on the floor made by them before I moved in with my husband the house was a mess and there was messes but the dogs were pups. And now I’ve gotten the situation under control and the dogs trained but they continue to press it to get rid of them. And I continue to keep the house clean but apparently not to their standards. I’m just confused

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      How many dogs have you got?
      What breed are they?
      How big is your house?
      How often are they walked?
      are they housetrained?
      Are they aggressive with other dogs?
      are they aggressive with other humans?

  6. Bella riddle

    3 dogs
    Chihuahua and one is half dauchund
    The are small
    All house trained. They have never shown aggressiveness to any animal or person and we go on walks ever day

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Then that sounds strange, that they would have problems. I think you need to get someone to explain very carefully what they think the problem is here. From what you say, it doesn’t sound like a problem.

      But from what I know of how stressed, overworked and frantic many social workers are, they would not be inventing problems about your dogs. Why on earth would they do that? What would they gain by doing that?

      Something does not make sense here.

      1. Angelo Granda

        I suggest that when something does not make sense and I agree with you, Sarah, on that score, then we should ask serious questions of the overworked Social Workers and their procedures and reports should be checked rigidly. For example, are they acting on Police ‘Intelligence’ or false information on file such as a ‘false’ allegation or referral. Can the department supply documentary evidence of the ‘many’ times it has been round to look at the house. Do they have forensic evidence of the condition of this lady’s home? Or is it all cloud-cuckoo land?
        As Sarah says, it doesn’t make sense.

  7. layla g

    we have been told our home smells of amonia. The people who say it are all employed by social services or are part of their network of buddies. Cleaning company, midwifes, friends, relatives dog chariy german shepard rescue angels said no smell.
    Its not about the smell or non smell. It is about the accusation of being able to say they make a smell. During care procedings. The social workers will get to a point where they will want to prove they are right and you are wrong. To do this they will lie, cheat and look for things that are not their. The game that is played is a game with a set of dice score a 1 and you are a bad parent, score a 2 your even worse etc… They want to win they want you to make mistakes. They will say anything to make this happen. Getting rid of pets willl not help in most cases all it will do is make the isue with you or your home not about your pets.

  8. Shannon Iley

    I’m going through the same problem with the mash they want me to get rid of my two kittens because they have a litter tray during the night which completely cleaned out and freash put in everyday otherwise they’ll take my children away but my three year old daughter was given the cat as a birthday present and she loves them to bits how can they do this?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      They can’t take your child away for that reason alone – there must be something more going on here. Can you get someone to explain more clearly what they are worried about? If they really are saying they will take your children away because you have two kittens, then you need to get a lawyer urgently. If care proceedings are issued you will get a lawyer for free. But I am afraid I think there must be something else going on here.

  9. Alicia

    Hi. I wanted to ask a question. My children are looked after children due to past substance misuse issues and abuse from my former partner. I have since left said partner and have been clean 4years. I recently homed a puppy of six weeks. She is an Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog x Staffiie. My dog shows signs of separation anxiety but she is still very young. She’s fantastic with the children. My house is perfectly clean and I have demonstrated I am more than capable of looking after my four children. Hence them still being in my care having gone through care proceedings. My social worker says that the dog too much for me and she won’t stay a puppy and went on about hearing of horror stories. She has advised me to get rid. There is no evidence to suggest I can’t cope woth her and I’m a firm believer that a puppy like a child is a product of their environment. She has been relatively easy to train and of course if I saw any signs of violent behaviour I would put my children’s safety above all else. My question is can my children be removed if I don’t take her advice. This dog, I have come to love. She is my family member. Thanks x

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Sorry, I have already suggested you read this post in answer to your other comment! I would need to know a lot more about your circumstances because I could advise with any confidence about what risks you face from SW involvement – but I can say with certainty that a well behaved dog should not be a problem.

  10. Alicia Lownsbrough

    Hi. I wanted to ask a question. My children are looked after children due to past substance misuse issues and abuse from my former partner. I have since left said partner and have been clean 4years. I recently homed a puppy of six weeks. She is an Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog x Staffiie. My dog shows signs of separation anxiety but she is still very young. She’s fantastic with the children. My house is perfectly clean and I have demonstrated I am more than capable of looking after my four children. Hence them still being in my care having gone through care proceedings. My social worker says that the dog too much for me and she won’t stay a puppy and went on about hearing of horror stories. She has advised me to get rid. There is no evidence to suggest I can’t cope woth her and I’m a firm believer that a puppy like a child is a product of their environment. She has been relatively easy to train and of course if I saw any signs of violent behaviour I would put my children’s safety above all else. My question is can my children be removed if I don’t take her advice. This dog, I have come to love. She is my family member. Thanks x

  11. Angelo Granda

    Putting comments into context from all sides, my opinion is that it is totally disproportionate thus INHUMANE to separate any children from parents and take them into care (even temporarily) on the grounds of a dirty home ,unhealthy environment or because there are thought to be too many pets in the home. It is also inhumane ,in my view, for a Local Authority official especially any SW ( supposedly trained in providing family support) to threaten to remove children by Court action unless the parent signs an S20.
    I say this even if there were fifty scruffy mongrels living in the house.
    Yes, there may be other issues but from reading comments above and elsewhere on other threads, SW’s are clearly giving the parents a choice.Your children or your pets!
    The proportionate response would be to obtain ‘real’ evidence that the pets are a danger to the children and get a Court order to remove THEM. Then,if necessary, jump into the hole and clean the house up with parents.
    Even if the situation were so dire the house could not be cleaned up in time scales and it is thought the situation represented an emergency and instant removal of the children from the environment it is still inhumane to separate them from family, in my view. There are always less invasive ,more proportionate alternatives . The humane solution would be to remove the children and Mum TOGETHER temporarily.
    Alas, it is my view that very often LA’s target and persecute vulnerable families and pets being out of control is just one more ‘concern’ they will use to do so.
    Rather than grant LA’s the right to persecute families purportedly in the ‘best interests’ of children ,lawyers should enforce the Human Rights Act and insist on proportionality.Human Rights are sacrosanct.

    It is interesting that travellers often keep many dogs and horses and often bring up children in tents. They are in permanent transit and often resort to home schooling etc. Many SW’s will, i am sure agree that such an unconventional way of life is not in the best interests of the children.
    Yet the families have HUMAN RIGHTS . More crucially,they know what they are and they have lawyers who support them rather than back LA’s. Hence they are not targeted and persecuted.

    All comments welcome.

  12. zoe langevin

    hi and I had a question i’m 21 years old and I live in canada and living in a foster home at the moment the people that I live with they own a dog but for some reason there dog is aggressive to words people and the dog is also in the house. and the owners aren’t doing anything. what should I do?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Have you tried speaking to the owners of the dog? If the dog is dangerously aggressive then that doesn’t sound safe. If the owners won’t do anything, who is responsible for organising this foster placement given that you are 21? I would speak to them. Or any other social worker/support worker you are in contact with.

  13. Francine Apodaca

    I need help!
    My step son and my dog grew up together. They both have been in my life for 8years. They lay together, sleep together, play together, they are like brothers. Last month my dog was in a deep sleep dreaming, my step son went behind his head and yelled the dogs name to wake him up. The dog got frightened an but him in the face. I rushed him to the hospital he got two stitches and they wrapped his head, so it wouldn’t get infected. We told his mother what had happened. She was very understanding at that time . She was even laughing saying “oh Aiden you’re the one who always gets hurt” now a month later , five days before we pick up the kids he gets a call from CPS saying that there’s a case opened on him (the father) and that he has to get rid of the dog or he won’t be able to have his kids. What can we do? Is there anything that we can do? I have so many videos and pictures of these two together. He such a good dog

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I am really sorry to hear this – I have dogs and they are part of the family. But I am curious as to why your step son would do that after 8 years of being with the dog? I am not surprised the dog was alarmed. Is there any compromise you can reach – the dog will be kept in another part of the house when he visits? Is there anything else going on apart from the dog? It seems quite a harsh reaction.

      1. Charlotte

        Sarah – you have the patience of a saint I’ll say that!!

        Agree with every word said and share your exasperation and frustration. Just wish it was possible to get some insight and for your points to fall on ears that listen.

  14. Jane

    I have question.. long story short my children were removed from my home because i got overwhelmed, shut down and let my home become honestly unlivable. I moved to a bigger house per request and finally my kids are getting ready to come home and now my caseworker is telling me i have too many cats and she is concerned I wont be able to give my autistic daughter attention yet. I’m a stay at home mom. If you didnt know how many cats i own you would think i had 2. The cat boxes are in a sun room that can be shut off from the rest of the home. They are cleaned minimum 2 times a day. If they do have an accident or throw up its immediately cleaned and if its on the litte carpet we have its shampooed immediately. Can she really make me get rid of my pets? I could understand if you walked in and got swarmed by animals or there was feces and urine everywhere. I love my kids and my our pets but if she truly thinks i would give all my attention to them and not my kids, Although she’s just worried about one of them, why would they be coming home? I don’t understand. Is she just grasping for something? Im sorry that wasnt very short! Thank you so much for letting me vent if nothing else! Lol

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      The short answer is that no, she can’t MAKE you give up your pets, but obviously it could cause some problems for you if you don’t ‘comply’ with her advice. You don’t mention how many cats you have. I think more than three or four WOULD make other people feel a bit nervous about how much of your time and energy they are taking up. But provided that they are well cared for and the home environment is clean and hygienic it does seem unfair to ask you to get rid of well loved family pets. Obviously there will be concerns because of the history. Is there a compromise here? Can you reduce the number of cats to three?

  15. Taya


    My nephew was recently placed with me as his safety person due to abuse in his home. I have 3 other children his age and a rescue dog we have had for a little over a year. My nephew has been with me for about 2 months now while cps and detectives work things out. My problem is my dog bit my nephew on the face this morning. It’s so out of character for her and I’m worried that once I tell the social worker what happened they will tell me to get rid of my dog or remove my nephew and place him in foster care. Is that a possibility? I’ve already begun looking for places to rehime her because there is a possibility that they may grant me guardianship of my nephew and I have no idea why she did that. My dog hadn’t ever bitten anyone especially not my children. My nephew and my son who are both 6 yrs old both said my nephew didn’t do anything and they don’t know why my dog bit him. I’m so upset because I love my dog but my nephews safety is my top priority. He’s been through enough already. MY children are going to be devastated. They have grown to love the dog….they even call her their little sister.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      It’s certainly something you have to take seriously. Depending on the size of the dog, this could be an extremely dangerous situation for a child; dogs can and do kill children or seriously injure them. I don’t know if your dog was in pain or was being hurt by the child and reacted, or whether the child was left alone with the dog. I think you have to be upfront about what happened and see if there is a way to keep dog and child safe – for example, by restricting dog to a certain part of the home, never leaving the child alone with the dog etc. But if its a big dog and a small child then I am afraid you may have to choose between caring for the dog or caring for the child.

  16. Tabatha S

    I have a question if you don’t mind. This is something that has been bothering me since July of 2020. This maybe long and I apologize for it now.
    Last July we asked our neighbor to watch my husbands daughters for us while we went down to southern Louisiana to sell some baby snakes. Well this person and I have had a rocky relationship from the start but she was my husbands so called friend. Anyhow she knew it would be a over night thing and it was fine. The girls were 10 and 9 at the time and she agreed to take them over to the house and let our dogs out to use the bathroom and then Put them back in their kennel. Turns out she went over with the girls and let them out of the kennel and never put them back in. She also stole a bunch of stuff from our house and even called the girls mom and told her to come down and get them. Lied to her about a bunch of stuff. Then called the cops and cps on us and lied to them as well. Told them we never feed the girls, they don’t get showers and they are covered in bruises. Then told them I promised her she could have my new born son and was refusing to give him over to her and she had papers saying I gave her him. She didn’t have anything. I have tried for 20 years to have a child. Sorry not happening. Anyhow she told them I starve him and that I toss him into walls and shake him and yell at him. I mean she came up with some off the wall stuff here.
    Well our 2 dogs are service dogs and both very well trained. Ones for mobility and the other is my diabetic alert and hearing dog. Yes I’m mostly deaf. In the time we asked her to watch the dogs she did not let the girls let them out nor did she do it herself. So for 20 hours they were left alone and not let out. So yea we had a mess. We got home at 5 am and my husband went and out our son in his crib to sleep while I cleaned up the mess. I’m a germaphobe (can’t spell sorry). So I scrubbed the house down and did everything I could to get it all gone. 3 hours later cops shows up. Thank god we knew him. He explained everything and brought the girls back. And he even came back when the cps worker got there later that day. He explained to the SW that he knew us and had been helping us with the girls bc of one of them likes to act out. The oldest child has ODD. And has been known to try to beat her sister and father if she don’t get her way or call the cops or cps. He also told the case worker he knows for a fact our house is always clean and don’t smell of dogs or anything but bleach every time he has been there. Well the case worker told us he was there to take the kids right then. He didn’t. He claimed it smelled of dog pee but the officer said it didn’t. They didn’t see eye to eye on that. Well the caseworker then started to call me by the wrong name and I simply said please don’t call me that my name is and as soon as I got that far he went off on me. We can’t call you by any nicknames. There for don’t try it. I will call you by your birth name and don’t try to argue with me on it and let’s not forget I’m here to take the kids. Then he says that we can make this easy on us or hard. Well ok. I will admit I was rude now and told him if he would call me by the right name I wouldn’t of said anything and I was being polite in what I said. And my name isn’t spoon! Well now I made him mad bc I corrected him on my name. That’s when he pops off with the dogs have to go or I will take your kids. Ok now our dogs are in the kennel and not even barking. Just laying there. So when we didn’t say anything to that he started in on the remaining snakes. Saying they had to go. Well I let him know we had them posted on many sites to sell them. I mean I just had a baby and had been trying to find homes for the snakes. Im not gonna chance them with my new born. Btw snakes we in a spare bedroom that had a key lock on it that the kids could not get into. Well long story shortened here. He came back 3 times and he called many times. He even tried to get us help for my son who is also partly deaf. And helped us to get a restraining order against the person who called. His last visit to us to close out the case we were outside talking. I asked him to explain to the kids he wasn’t going to take them away or their baby brother. Oh wait I should mention he kept trying to tell us we had to get rid of the dogs and snakes. Even called his boss. His boss told him no we didn’t have to unless the kids were harmed by them. Which they weren’t. So now back to the last visit. He goes to walk inside to tell the girls what I asked him to. He opens the door and yells oh sh.t if I had a gun I would shoot you! Then slams the door shut. So I asked what that was about and who he’s yelling at. Turns out my daughters had the small dog on a leash and was walking out the back door to take him out. Small toy poodle/pug mix! And he said that infront of our kids! We then found out the whole reason for him wanting us to get rid of the pets was bc he was afraid of them! That was it. One of the girls had a counselor through children family department and knew our case worker. We had him well before cps showed up. But he found out for us that was why. The case was shut a month and a half later. And we got a letter saying everything was unfounded. And they even had the cops deal with the person since she kept calling and had her friends do it as well. Needless to say it was a ploy to get my newborn son since she couldn’t have anymore kids. Anyhow knowing all of this how and what should we do? My kids are scared now that some random person is just going to shoot their dog and tbh I can’t blame them. Everything has given them and me ptsd over it. To the point where we even moved far away so no one at the old place or the old case worker can show up or find us.
    Sorry this is so long. And thanks for listening

  17. Chris Battor

    So cps told me to pretty much file a restrai in order or I wasn’t seriousabout getting my son home is that legal. There’s an underlying threat of taking him away if I dont

  18. Ramona

    Quick question.
    I have 3 kids/boys at that (5,3 & 1½)
    We recently rescued a 2 year old orange cat . He’s such a good cat, and at times my boys tend to pet him on his belly, play with something stringy, or grab his tail and he will snap and scratch kinda bad. Believe me I’m teaching boundaries, our kids are really good too.
    But my question is, can CPS get involved if they have to many scratches from him? I freak out with like 3 scratches on an arm let alone them getting them frequently from him. I don’t wanna re-home or reshelter but I don’t want to get in trouble for this..

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      It would seem very unlikely that a few scratches from a cat would get professionals worried about your children. The problems with pets that have led to court proceedings in England and Wales have been about a large number of animals in a confined space, leading to a build up of urine and faeces or about children being seriously injured by an animal, such as a bite from a dog. As long as you are teaching the children to be gentle around the cat, a few scratches are part of life I think.

  19. Hannah

    Even if you did get rid of your pets they would still find a reason to remove children that’s what they do best make lies up. The amount of baby starved adoptive and foster parents who have pets from what I’ve seen on social media is beyond me. How can they remove a child from birth parents because of a pet and then place it with carers who also have pets is very contradicting………..lame excuse from Ss


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