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

Pet training and behaviour company treating cats, dogs and livestock. Range of free advice on website. Covering Midlands to London. Training and behaviour advisers to Pet Education Trust.

23 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.

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