I 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 many 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.