An adoption charity has launched a best practice guide to prevent foster children being denied the physical and emotional benefits of having a pet.

The report from the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) entitled ‘Dogs and pets in fostering and adoption’, calls for care professionals to develop ‘proportionate policies’ in relation to dogs and other pets.

Some fostering services and practitioners have expressed confusion around best practice, the report found.

And in some cases unhelpful and risk-averse policies have been implemented in the wake of dog attacks, with some authorities blacklisting certain dog breeds for adopters and foster cares.

The guide, produced with the help of the Blue Cross animal charity, highlights the physical and emotional benefits a pet can bring for looked after children by making the foster home a positive environment and encouraging empathy and trust.

Paul Adams, Foster Care Development Consultant, and author of the guide said: ‘Dogs and other pets can provide a loyal, non judgmental and constant companion for fostered and adopted children, and help to promote attachment between humans.’

Mr Adams added: ‘It is important that local authorities develop measured policies to help foster carers, social workers, adopters and special guardians to manage their pets in adoptive and fostering contexts.’

Caroline Selkirk, BAAF chief executive, said: ‘With one in four UK children growing up with a pet, it is a shame for children in care to miss out, particularly when it is these children who could benefit the most from the experience.’

The guidelines are available to purchase from £9.95 on the BAAF website, a podcast is also available