Animals Policy Statement

West Herts Homes will receive requests from some residents to keep a pet at their home, or to have access to an animal for the purpose of therapy. In dealing with these requests, West Herts Homes will have regard to:

  • the terms within the resident’s tenancy or licence agreement
  • the type of property that the resident occupies 
  • the type of animal that is to be kept, or provided for therapy
  • for therapy animals – that the animal has met specified conditions ( see Section 2, below )
  • the health and safety of all residents, members of staff, and the public
  • the wishes of other residents who may come into contact with the animal
  • current law and best practice
  • the outcomes of a thorough risk assessment carried out on an annual basis in a format determined by West Herts Homes.

General

  • Any request to keep a pet, or to have access to an animal for the purpose of therapy must be made in writing, and permission obtained in writing from West Herts Homes before a pet or therapy animal is brought on to any of our premises
  • In dealing with each request West Herts Homes will make a decision having taken into account the criteria in the Policy Statement ( above ) and any other criteria that are relevant at that time
  • Permission for the keeping of a pet will only usually be given where the property has an external door which allows the pet to enter and exit without passing through any communal areas. The pet must be kept under control at all times, and the service user must have   insurance cover in place to meet any liabilities for damage and personal injury prior to the pet living at the property
  • Where permission has been granted for the keeping of a pet, or access to a therapy animal, this permission will be withdrawn if there is an any evidence of any nuisance or harm being caused to any other service user, member of staff, or member of the public, or there being any concern about hygiene, health and safety, or any other matter that may adversely impact on West Herts Homes.

2. Therapy Animals    

  • West Herts Homes recognises that some residents will benefit from contact with animals. In dealing with requests for residents to have access to animals for therapy, West Herts Homes will have regard to the Assisted Animals Interventions: Code Of Practice For The UK, developed by the Society For Companion Animal Studies.
  • Where a request is received for the use of an animal for therapy, the service user and their next of kin should submit the request in writing, at which time they must be given a copy of this policy to make clear the criteria that West Herts Homes will use for assessing each request.       
  • West Herts Homes will give permission for therapy animals to be present at West Herts Homes properties where the criteria in the Policy Statement ( above ) have been taken into account and where the criteria listed below are met.
  • Preference will be given to animals delivered for therapy purposes through a registered specialist provider, such as Pets As Therapy or Therapet

Where an animal is not delivered through a registered specialist provider:

  • Recent veterinary evidence must be produced to confirm that that the animal is in good health, free from zoonotic disease, has received necessary vaccinations and that these are up to date, is of a suitable temperament, and is of an appropriate species
  • On an annual basis, a vet must confirm that the animal is suitable to continue being used for therapy, and a note of this must be kept on file
  • The animal must be calm and responsive to their handler and able to follow instructions
  • The animal must have access to space to relax, be fed, have access to water, and access to an area for toileting
  • Wherever possible, the animal should not have to undertake a lengthy journey prior to or following a therapy session. Transport arrangements should have regard for the animals’ welfare and comfort
  • Staff must confirm that the handler has DBS clearance, and third party insurance cover in case of any incident or injury caused by the animal while on West Herts Homes’ premises
  • The handler must be trained and have a current accreditation for human first aid and animal first aid 
  • For each animal, a risk assessment must be completed on an annual basis, in a format prescribed by West Herts Homes. Each risk assessment must be signed off by the Chief Executive.   Under no circumstances must a member of staff carry out a risk assessment for any animal that they own or have any personal relationship to.
  • For all animals used for therapy, whether through a registered specialist provider, or through a personal arrangement, the following requirements apply:
  • the animal must remain under control at all times
  • animals must not climb onto beds or other soft furnishings
  • animals must be kept within a designated area 
  • animals must not be allowed into kitchens or any area where food is prepared or stored
  • every person who comes into contact with an animal must wash their hands after contact in a proprietary hand wash
  • any animal faeces must be cleaned up and properly disposed of by the handler at the end of each session.

Guide Dogs

Where an assistance dog and its owner require access to West Herts Homes properties, consent will be given, but staff must ensure that the conditions within this policy on hygiene and health and safety are complied with.    

Visitors

Visitors should be asked not to bring animals onto West Herts Homes premises, but each situation will be dealt with on an individual basis. Where a visitor does wish to bring an animal with them to visit a service user, prior permission must be obtained from a senior member of staff who must satisfy themselves that the animal poses no risk to the residents, other residents, or any member of staff; and that the visitor has third party insurance cover if the animal causes any damage or injury while on our premises. At all times, the animal must be kept under control, and only allowed into defined parts of the property ( see above for guidance ).

Review

This policy was approved by the Board in May 2016, and will be reviewed in 2019.