kidsdogsI get quite a few enquiries from dog owners whose Council or Housing Association has told them their dogs have to go. Two recent cases highlight the difference it makes to act quickly and NOT take facebook advice.  If you are in this position, get professional help immediately.  What can happen if you are threatened with this and what can you do?  Read on…

These two cases show the difference in getting professional help quickly.  If you have children and are told your dog needs rehoming as your kids are at risk from it, get an assessment immediately.  Facebook can’t help you.

CASE ONE was a family who asked for help after getting council letters saying their dog had to go by the end of the month.  This was a week before the end of the month.  The problem had started a few months earlier when they had received complaints about barking and fouling in their garden, they had two dogs.  Their tenancy agreement said they could only have one dog, they had got a second a year earlier.

As one of the dogs had developed a barking problem, they had been reported and a council officer came to visit and saw two dogs, sparking the action.  Unfortunately, instead of seeking advice from a professional, they decided to post on facebook.  I read a lot of their posts and replies.  The replies were mainly “oh hun, u have kids, they carn’t take ur dog” or various forms of “they can’t do anything, just ignore them”.

None of this was any use nor was it correct.  Letters went back and forth, the council Housing Offer and the Dog Warden attended a couple of times and still they posted on facebook.  There was then another allegation that one of the dogs had lunged at someone in the street and was dangerous.  The family had told the council repeatedly that they had rung for 2nd dog permission and were told yes.  Of course, even if true, there was no proof.  This left the council with the upper hand as they could enforce the tenancy agreement.

By the time they asked us for help, the council refused to let us act for the family and assess the dogs or draw up a plan. The secondary issue of the dog poop not picked up often enough in the garden, which they had photos of on several occasions was enough on its own.  I managed to get the local MP onto it and the local councillor at which point I had to leave it as I could do nothing, it was too late to help.

CASE TWO was a family with 3 dogs. One of their dogs had a problem with people coming to the house and had started barking at people in the street and snapping if anyone tried to touch him.  They did keep the dog on a lead, but this didn’t stop the barking at people and locals got fed up.  They had been to classes with the dog, but it didn’t solve the problem.

The first letter they got was from their Housing Association, saying that there had been a complaint of a dangerous dog at the property.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that the dog was an obvious Staffy type as people were judging on that alone.

They initially went to their vet who told them he could do nothing and didn’t suggest a behaviourist.  A second letter came from the council saying they had a complaint of owning a dangerous dog and barking complaints and saying they would be getting a visit from the Dog Warden and to expect to be told to rehome their dogs.  The Dog Warden did come, decided the dog was aggressive and recommended to his boss that the dog needed to go.  There was a further suggestion that their children were at risk from this dog.

Fortunately at this point they asked for help.  We did a full behaviour assessment on all the dogs and sent the report to the council.  I asked to meet with their Dog Warden to find out how they decided on the dangerous dog.  they declined.  The council agreed to stop all action for one month whilst the family worked on my behaviour plan.  We redid the assessment after a month and by now this lovely dog was not barking at people and much happier with visitors.  The council wanted a forward plan which the family got from us and we did a further check up another month later.  Six months on, all is fine, no more letters, no more action.


If you get any kind of official complaint, get help straight away.  If you have kids, or are a childminder, I have seen manybest friends cases of council staff insisting dogs are rehomed just because of breed.  The council cannot walk into your house and tell you to get rid of your dog.  They can act via letters and court if you have breached tenancy rules, the law or environmental health rules, in which case it’s your fault if you don’t clean up or control your dogs properly.

Get professional help and advice and sort it as soon as you get a complaint.  Acting fast whilst the authorities are still listening is the best route to keeping your dog.  We want dogs to remain in loving families, please act quickly.



About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

46 responses »

  1. amy says:

    Im a private tennent I was told by my landlord the the environmental health officer has said our two bed flat is two small for our two dogs they have a garden and get walked twice a day what can we do next

  2. Ryan Jackson says:

    Hi, my neighbor has been to the council about my 2 dogs in which one case one dog had to go and live with my grandma and the complaints stopped for around 6 months, however we have just recently got a letter saying the other dog is still a nesuence and she needed to be gone in 24 hours, we have tried to stop her from barking by taking her on more walks to tire her out but it’s most often when we aren’t in and the window cleaners etc. Come round. I really need help as of this dog means the world to me and I cannot bear to get rid of it, she is currently in a kennel and I hate the idea of it please help, my mother is saying she will have to go but I couldn’t stand that, thank you.

    • safepets uk says:

      Hello Ryan
      the council do have to prove a nuisance and usually they ask the complainant to keep a diary. I’d say get a good behaviourist to come and help you stop the barking and tell the council you are doing this. If you are struggling to find someone, email us and we’ll try and find someone for you

  3. Mandy bridle says:

    We had a enforcement officer tell us we had to get rid of our half of our dogs. Despite owning our house had 12 I know it sounds a lot however three people live at the address devide by three made it four dogs each. Our home is a four bedroom property with a massive garden. We did rehome six of our pets which has upset us terribly. I have since been told as we own the property the council have little control over what we do on our property is this true?

    • safepets uk says:

      Hello Mandy. I assume this “enforcement officer” was some sort of council employee? In principle they cannot insist you get rid of dogs. They can serve you with a notice on something specific, such as noise or dog mess. This would mean you had to remedy the issues or they could escalate it to court action. Yes, if you were a tenant of the council or a housing association that had a tenancy agreement which only allowed a certain number of dogs they could serve notice that said some had to go. But as you own your property, there had to have been some other nuisance that prompted the action and you should have been given an official letter about it and therefore been able to sort it.

  4. Dan Vernon says:

    hi I have five at my home and aspire housing have said I need to rehome two of them. because the cats pee on the neighbours door step. Two neighbours have sent in a complaint. my cats have been with me for a long time and I don’t want to give them up.can you help please

    • safepets uk says:

      Hi Dan
      I don’t know why they think rehoming two would help? You could offer to buy your neighbours a repellent spray to try and help keep the cats away. Or can you offer to keep the cats in? It’s a case of how you can make an offer to show them it won’t happen again. Are all the cats neutered?

      • Dan Vernon says:

        I’ve tried all of that I’ve even offered my mobile number so I can clean it up myself. All my cats have neutered. is there anything legally I can do. Thank you

      • safepets uk says:

        That depends on what your tenancy agreement says. Assuming you do have permission for all the cats, the landlord would have to serve you a proper letter/notice that there has been a breach. This would also give you the right to appeal/meet to discuss.If they haven’t already, tell them to put it in writing and read your tenancy agreement carefully.

      • Dan Vernon says:

        Thank you I will try this

  5. richard says:

    Hi, the breeder who we bought our great dane from has been told by a council office that they have to rehome two of their danes (4 dogs at house). This has come about as one of the puppies from a previous litter died of a heart condition on the owner is now suing her and has accused her of being a backyard breeder. We know that she is not a back yard breeder and loves all of her dogs. I know many of the puppies that she has sold and they are all healthy and happy. She is devastated and can’t see any way out. Can the council really force her to rehome two of her dogs?

    • safepets uk says:

      This depends on what her tenancy agreement says and how the council have served this notice. The being sued is a different matter and nothing to do with what the council have done. The council cannot issue notices about the dogs because a buyer is suing her. That will be something she needs to defend by proving several different things, like the health testing done on the adult dogs (hips, elbows, eyes, heart) and vet check done on pups before sale. If she did all of these, then she has a full defence. If the parents of the puppy were not properly tested, she is in trouble.

  6. Katie Hawkins says:

    Hi. I moved into my housing association flat about 16 months ago. At the time we were forced to get rid of our dog on the grounds he wasn’t allowed in the communal stairwell and were a top floor flat (a very difficult decision but our previous flat was mouldy and causing health issues despite an 18month fight with the landlord. we had to move and this is a new build)
    one of my neighbours has since got a dog which i did complain about. the landlords response over the phone was that she has separate access to her flat. he said cats would be allowed providing they are house cats.
    we have since got a cat with due to medical needs is required to be a house a cat. I have written to my landlord inform them of this but they are now saying we have to rehome as we do not have separate access even though she will never need it. Where do we stand? I want to fight this all the way but not sure how. I am really against getting rid of yet another pet because of this association. I haven’t responded yet as i want to seek advice before I do.

    • safepets uk says:

      Hi, it will initially depend on the terms of your tenancy. I would write directly to this person, no more phone calls that can be denied later. Say that you were given permission in a call as long as your cat is a house cat. It may be worth getting a vet letter confirming the medical problem and discuss any improvements you could make to ensure the cat doesn’t go out. This could be things like Window mesh. Ask for the name and email of this person’s manager and copy them in to any emails.
      Finally you may need to seek legal advice if they remain adamant that they will not budge on this. Good luck.

  7. Brittany says:

    The council have given us letters and warnings about our german shepherd dog who is only still a puppy at 8 months old because the neighbours have complained about ecessive barking at night, we have completely stopped our dog from doing this and she doesn’t bark at all during the night but during the day she stays out in the garden and can bark (loudly) at times but not to excess. The council are still on our backs and I don’t know what to do I love my dog with all my heart and I can’t bear to see her rehome because of neighbours who are lying about her barking excessively when we have stopped it. Can you help me? We think the council might try and kick us out if we don’t get rid of the dog and stop the complaints

    • safepets uk says:

      I’m not clear about this. Do you leave the dog in the garden all day? Why isn’t she living indoors? Can you explain more?

      • Brittany says:

        It’s my boyfriends house in which the dog lives at and in the house are young children and so his dad doesn’t want to have our dog in the house but she has a kennel in the garden where she sleeps at night

  8. safepets uk says:

    The dog may be bored or unhappy. She is a baby herself and wants attention. Deciding what is excessive barking is difficult. Think about regular walks and playtime, toys, chews, bones, lots to do. Keep a diary of when she does bark and for how long. To be honest it isn’t good for a young dog not to be living indoors and learning social skills. Can’t they put up a baby gate or two and give her more attention? Can you have the dog at your house? If you can’t resolve this, the council could go to court to apply for either eviction or removal of the dog.

  9. shona Marie bruce says:

    I have 2 pets one maltese cross chihuahua and a Germany shepard housing have told me I can keep the small one but not the larger one, yet the smaller one is more dangerous, he’s a rescue dog and has his own issues but the shepard I have had since she was a puppy and is really well behaved. They have a front and back garden, she’s out with my partner at work all day and hot get walked twice a day? What can I do? I have mental health issues and my dogs provide me with security and help my condition..can I appeal? If so how?

    • safepets uk says:

      Start by asking for a meeting and take someone trustworthy with you to help you. Also check your tenancy agreement about permissions to own pets. Ask them to put in writing their reasons for asking you to do this, before the meeting. Can you also get a letter of support from your doctor and take that to the meeting too?

  10. Joanne Jones says:

    HI I don’t know if you can help. We have lived in our housing association home for nearly 2 years now and one of our neighbours has started getting nasty. We had a visit from the dog warden about a week ago saying the dogs were barking all day and night and now the housing association have said we do not have permission for 4 of our dogs (we have 5). We told them when we moved in what we had I also wrote for permission. It says no where in our tenancy how many dogs we can have nor does it say anywhere on any information they have provided. The housing officer also stated in front of my in laws at the time of viewing “as long as it isn’t 6 huge rottweilers it wont be a problem”. We have put a camera up that will alert us with any noise and we have found the only time any of our dogs bark is when someone knocks on the door. Our dogs are not aggressive but I just feel I’m getting to the end of my tether and can’t bear to lose our dogs that we have had for at least 5 years now. My dogs bought me out of deep depression after my mother died suddenly and my dad disappeared, I was put on all types of medication but the dogs were the saviour. Can you give me any advice?

    • safepets uk says:

      If the tenancy agreement does not state that only a specific number of pets can he owned, they will find this difficult to enforce. There is usually a clause about not causing nuisance, but they have to prove this. Keep a strict diary of all your comings and goings so that if they take this to court you have evidence. Ask them to put in writing the actual complaint, times, days etc. You have the right to know the specifics of the accusations. Ask for a meeting with the HA to discuss and with the dog warden or their boss.

  11. Jennifer jamieson says:

    I have 2 neighbours who let there dogs bark on and off all day every day….it’s been on going for years now…I live in a council property..the council have been in touch with these people twice now…and the dogs are still barking…I told the council maybe it’s time for these owners to get rid of there dogs if think they have had enough time to get there act together..sooner the better…

    • safepets uk says:

      I would put in a formal complaint if the council are not dealing with your noise nuisance report properly. Would the owners be amenable to some advice? Keep a strict, honest diary of the noise, this can help the council.

      • Jennifer jamieson says:

        Thank you for your email…I have suggested training for the dogs….and there owners…I have wrote to the chief executive…..suggesting the council get rid ofor the dogs ….I will have to wait and see what the chief executive has to say…’s been on going for years now….I think these dog owners have had a good run….unfortunately some people don’t know when to give up….if you say no,they do it even more…

  12. Jennifer jamieson says:

    I’ve just wrote to cheif executive…..will will surest training classes for the owners…..from what I can see …the dogs can be quite…it’s the owners….sInce they had there lenter from the Council last week….things have not got any better…the council reminded them ofor there Tennant agreement….and suggest mediation….I just couldn’t face these people….the barking yesterday for 2 hours was bad….these people are pesants

    • Prof says:

      My council are terrible as well. Anybody who visits here who thinks that only half an hour of their dog barking isn’t so bad and really couldn’t give a toss about other people, move to the Calderdale district, you’ll be able to let it bark forever. Nothing will happen to you.
      I kept all the diaries, did everything they asked me, for nothing! That was over a year ago.
      My neighbour’s dog barks endlessly all day and most of the night too, it has done for three years now. It’s kept outside in a cage permanently, yes I feel sorry for it before anybody says poor dog and yes I contacted the rspca initially. That was a waste of time too.
      We own our house and nobody will buy it with that racket going on so it’s worthless. We can’t get away from it.
      I had to start working from home a few years ago due to an infection picked up while in hospital. I’m a self employed sculptor so you can imagine what the constant barking does to my creativity. Not that I’d be able to concentrate if I was doing any other self employed job. My financial situation is now dire as I can’t make any money if I can’t make things to sell. I can’t even afford the bankruptcy fee now. I actually attempted suicide just before the New year. I think you have to experience this level of noise nuisance before you realise that it’s actually pure torture. I did write a complaint to the head of the council, actually admitted that I’d attempted suicide, I just couldn’t give a toss who knows anymore.
      I received an email from a different officer, he informed me that he’d recommended the dog be entertained and moved then he asked me to keep another noise diary. I’m just not doing that again, they’re just going through the motions then not carrying out their obligations under the law. It annoys me that they have recommended I take my own civil case out against my neighbours though. They have powers to take action and they just cannot be bothered, I don’t know what the problem is, I’ve offered to record it. The one time I spoke to somebody he told me it was a sensitive matter! What is sensitive about it? If they weren’t of a certain ethnic origin I would still be complaining, dogs don’t bark any more or less if you’re a white selfish irresponsible owner than any other ethnicity, I don’t understand what is so sensitive. Do they think I’m a racist or something? Because I’ve complained about their dog? My father had darker skin than they do! I just cannot comprehend this.
      At some point you have to hold your hands up and stop fighting because the stress of it all is so debilitating.
      I’ve tried earplugs but I can’t bear that strange disconnected feeling it gives me. I don’t see why I should have to wear earplugs in my own house. Some days I play punk very loudly out of my window, in fact it’s a Bose speaker so can drown out any dog and ruin your neighbours day in their garden because maybe they take valour and that’s how they can just sit there next to the noise of their neglected dog. I do wonder how long it will take before I get a visit from the council though, for noise.
      The other neighbours get annoyed too but they know that their cars will be mysteriously damaged afterwards.
      Also, I get really fed up of people suggesting that I buy devices to stop it from barking. Because it’s my responsibility, I choose not to have a dog. I just think that people are getting more and more selfish, think of dogs like some kind of fashion accessory and can’t be bothered taking proper care of them, usually the same people who let them crap everywhere.
      A dog needs a lot of Exercise!! No matter how little and fluffy it is, it’s not cute, it’s an aggressive little git who’s mentally ill!
      To be honest I’m so beyond anything now that I don’t even know why I’m wasting my oxygen writing this. I just want to move.
      I absolutely despise dogs now!

      • Jennifer jamieson says:

        Poor you…I know what your are going though… housing manager sent my neighbours a letter…and just for spite the dogs barked for three days….we haven’t had any barking now for 6 days….I have put a cctv camera in my home now…..record the dog on video…and the barking….the small claims court might help…or your local councillors….citizens advice….I have an interview with the head of housing just in case they start again……take a video on your phone… have human rights….the right the a piecefull life……it’s disturbing the piece…..we have 42houses were I live ,and I’m the only person that has taken action…..what’s wrong with people today….they don’t want to get involved…….what about the other neighbours????….what are they doing…????please try all these avenues….take your recordinns to m.p.court….keep me posted….jenny…

  13. Tracey Storer says:

    I am an owner of 2 dogs whom were included on the signing of my tenancy. However back in June 2017 I was subject of an allegation complaint regarding my biggest dog barking. His barking was due to people right outside my window shouting and whistling to the girl above me. I’ve not had any more complaints since then but today a housing officer attended with 2 dog wardens demanding I get rid of my dogs. There has been no threats from the council as such And there has not been any court proceedings either. I declined to give my dogs up and the housing officer who is always targeting me for no reason has said he’s going to to obtain an injunction to force me to get rid of my dogs. What should I do?

    • safepets uk says:

      You were right to refuse. Neither your HO nor the wardens have powers to come and take your dogs. I suggest you write to them council and make a formal complaint if dog wardens attended. I suggest you write to your MP as well and ask them to contact the HO.
      If they want to pursue this, they will have to take you to court and prove a case. This means you can defend it if they do.
      Put your complaints in, in writing ASAP.

  14. DavidMorgan says:

    Where do you get professional help at what department of the government everything’s moving fast pace please give me the answer to this question where do you get help to save your dog from being put at another location

  15. Wendy saunders says:

    Hi. This is happening with my father who lives alone with his dog in a council flat in Cardiff. He’s been told he has to get rid of his dog although the dog hasn’t behaved badly. He’s devastated and I’m scared he won’t cope without his dog as he is epileptic etc and the dog senses when he needs help and warns him of it

    • Safepets UK says:

      Email us the full story and we’ll offer some advice. If he is renting he cant just be told to get rid of his dog. The landlord has to pursue through court as breach h of tenancy in most cases.

      • WENDY SAUNDERS says:

        My dad is renting from Cardiff council a second floor flat. They have visited him and told him he has to get rid of his dog. The dog is a beloved companion of my dad’s and also makes my dad who is epileptic aware when he needs help before he starts fitting.

  16. Mia says:

    If my dog gets out and is put back in my yard by a friend can the pound come on to my private land and take them away

    • Safepets UK says:

      If you are in the UK and the dog was straying, caused no problems and was returned to your home I cannot see there are any powers to remove your dog. If the dog got into any incidents, the police may become involved.

  17. Tabitha Nowell says:

    I’ve had a letter from orbit given me 28 days to get rid of my dog I’m in bits wot can I do?

    • Safepets UK says:

      Housing will have to take you to court to force you to rehome your dogs. This time threat is their way of trying to deal with it quickly in the hope that you comply and they don’t need to take you to court. You need to get a copy of your tenancy agreement to ensure you do have permission to keep pets, and other written proof if you asked for permission at any time. If this is due to complaints, whilst they cannot at this stage say who has complained, they can and should tell you exactly what the complaints are: how often, dates and specifically what the complaints are about. I suggest you start by writing to them for a tenancy agreement copy and further proof of complains if that is the problem.

  18. Danielle says:

    I have just swapped homes from housing association to council the lady i swapped with said dogs where aloud i have 3 dogs. 1 adult and 2 8month old pups. I never needed premission for them in the old place now this place i need permission when i asked he said no but once explained he agreed to one dog. But said i still need to fill out the request form. And if anyone complains i have to get rid of my dog. I felt too scared to tell him i had 3 as he made me feel intimidated my friend has agreed to tKe one dog wich would leave tqo then today i had a phone call saying ive had 2 complaints for having 3 dogs and how im not aloud. Im going out of my mind i have only been here one week and im scared ill lose everything my dogs are so friendly rarwly bark i clean up after them even arrange times to walk them with neihbours dog so we dont bump into each other as there dogs a bit agressive. My sons on the autistic spectrem and the only reason i moved was due to domestic violence and for my memtal health being near family get out of the area i was in the dogs have been the only things gettong me out of the house daily and my mental health is bad now im gunn lose my dogs! I cant cope loesing them all was hard enough rehoming one. I know he will say no to too dogs so i told him i had one and the other one is my sisters who is helping me decorate. Im so scared im considering letting them evict me so i can tty and save up and find a private rented place as i really dont want to lose my babys Have u àny advise

    • Safepets UK says:

      If you have GP and Social Services support, ask for their help. Make the Housing Officer put everything in writing, do not just speak on the phone or there is no record. If the dogs are not neutered, get them done, see if there are local schemes to help you.
      Tell housing you have emotional and medical needs and that you have found a home for one dog. You are right in that they cannot demand that you get rid of another dog. Legally they would have to go down the proper route for breach of tenancy and try to evict you via the court. I think covid is still making that a slower process.
      Tell housing to write to you outlining their concerns and giving you their official warning. Do not discuss anything on phone from now on.

  19. Tracy OReilly says:

    Hi I live in London I have one dog and got permission but my mum died in April of covid.19 and asked me to look after her dog I’ve had him since but a few weeks ago my downstairs neighbour saw him and then said oh you have another dog you have to get rid of it as its against the law to cut along story short a few days later he said the dogs bark all day and night it it’s not true I’m home always they only batk when the postman comes or someone rings the door but it’s only for a short time we stop them I can’t lose him he’s all I got

    • Safepets UK says:

      You may well need to ask permission to keep another dog from your landlord. It’s worth getting a camera even one of those camera doorbells so you can watch the dogs when out.
      Keep a diary of the times you go out and return. Also put on it honestly when they do bark and how long for.
      It is not against the law that is nonsense but your housing may have thoughts on this.

  20. Melinda Gardener says:

    Nottinghil Genesis are asking me to remove my dog. She is just a Puppy of 6 months. People complained she is barking at night and that we leave her pop on the estate which are all malicious lies. The joke is my pup is scared of loud noises and she does not hardly ever bark. She sleeps through the night so she is no fuss at all. She is a jolly calm dog and not a banned breed. My housing association is saying that I can only have a dog for medical terms . The joke is I am paying 812 rent each month and do not even have rights inside my own property what is the use. The poor pup has bee regimes twice already and is so used to us not. It would be mean to give her away. How can you help us please to keep our dog with us. We love her and she is part of our family. The joke is in my east are their are many other residents with dogs, some of which are banned breeds too. Who have been her before we even moved and no one complains about them and the housing association has clearly not asked them to remove their family pet.

    • Safepets UK says:

      Does your tenancy agreement allow you to keep a dog? Should you have asked for permission first?
      Ask housing for a specific list in writing of all complaints. Not who made them, but the dates and times and what the complaints were about.
      Do you go out at night is that why they are saying barking at night?
      They technically can tell you to remove the dog and they can warn you in writing that the dog has to go. If you do not comply they have to take you to court for breach of tenancy. They have no powers to take the dog from you. It has to go to court.
      Ask for the complaint details.
      Speak to citizens advice for some support.
      So you have immediate neighbours who can write letters to say the dog is not noisy? Do people see you picking up after your dog?
      You need some letters to prove the complaints are not true and all the info on the complaints.
      Good luck

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