Hope Project

Helping dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis

Health and Safety

If you allow dogs in your hostel, it’s important to consider the health and safety implications. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states that all employers have a duty of care to make their workplace safe for their employees and the public. Your organisation should already be compliant with health and safety laws so you’ll just need to ensure that dogs are now included in your health and safety policy.

Risk Assessments

Your organisations should already be familiar with risk assessments and what this entails. A risk assessment allows you to identify anything within your organisation that might cause harm to people and to decide whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. Once you have decided that, you can identify and put in place appropriate and sensible control measures.

When you begin allowing dogs in your hostel, for example, you should consider the risk of someone being bitten. While it is impossible to say that this will never happen, the risk should be low as long as you put effective measures in place. In this instance, you can speak to the owner before they move in and find out whether the dog has ever shown signs of aggression. If they have, you can insist that they wear a muzzle in communal areas of the hostel.

Steps you can take to ensure the risks of having dogs in your hostel are mitigated include:

  • Ensuring dogs are kept on a lead and under control in communal areas
  • Ensuring dogs showing signs of aggression are muzzled
  • Ensuring dog rooms are clearly labelled so that staff and residents are aware that a dog may be inside
  • Ensuring dogs are neutered to reduce the risk of aggression and straying
  • Ensuring dogs are regularly wormed and treated for fleas
  • Ensuring dogs showing signs of illness are seen by a vet as soon as possible
  • Ensuring you have a comprehensive dog policy in place

For more information on risk assessments and to download a template form, visit the Health & Safety Executive website


Your hostel should already have public liability insurance in place to cover you for accidents on your premises. Before you begin accepting dogs, speak to your insurers and find out whether dogs are already covered. In most cases, they will be. You may need to tell your insurers the maximum number of dogs you will accept at any one time.

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