Hackles raised on Hornchurch estate after London and Quadrant ask residents to remove dogs

Dog-lovers on a Hornchurch estate are having a “ruff” time after their housing association asked them to get rid of their beloved pets.

London and Quadrant (L&Q), which owns property at Haynes Park Court, sent letters to tenants and homeowners giving them a week’s ultimatum to “make alternative arrangements” to house their dogs.

The letters made reference to a rarely invoked rule against pet ownership on the estate.

Pensioner Colin Reames, 75, said he refused to budge. “There’s no way on this Earth I’ll give up my dog,” he said.

Mr Reames said the dogs on the estate made life easier for their owners, some of whom are elderly.

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“I’ve got a new knee and the only way I get exercise is to take my dog for a walk,” he explained. “It strengthens my leg – it’s therapy. It keeps me walking around.

“Another lady across the way from me has a little shiatsu. She’s totally deaf but as soon as the door rings, the dog runs to the door and she knows someone’s there. The dog is a therapy – you can’t take it away.”

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Denise Chafki, who works in a Hornchurch play centre, has had her staff cross Max since her father died last year.

“He was my dad’s, and my dad died,” she told the Recorder. “There’s no way I could have sent him anywhere else. I miss my dad and Max is the last bit I’ve got of him.”

Ms Chafki, 48, said she would rather move than give up her dog – even though she had lived in Haynes Park Court for 17 years.

“Even with strangers in the house, he doesn’t make any noise,” she added. “There are no dogs around here that bark – they’re all good.”

But an L&Q spokeman said the company had received “numerous complaints” from Haynes Park Court residents about fouling and barking – resulting in an amnesty introduced in 1997 that would see all dogs banned.

The spokesman added: “We have never been asked to lift the amnesty and so we have now written to residents again reminding them about it and asking them to make arrangements for dogs to be re-housed elsewhere.”

L&Q said the RSPCA had advised them in 1997 that Haynes Park Court was not a suitable environment for dogs.

But RSPCA spokesman Klare Kennett said the week’s notice given by L&Q was not enough. “Animal centres are quite simply full,” she said. “Dog owners are going to be told they haven’t got room and they aren’t going to get their animals into the centres.

“We would ask L&Q to think again – it’s irresponsible to ask people to do this. They won’t be able to do it safely and it’s not in the best interest of the dogs. What are they supposed to do?”

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said he was putting his support behind the Haynes Park Court residents.

“I’m very much against what L&Q are suggesting,” he said. “There‘s absolutely no reason for this as far as I can see. If a dog is behaving there’s no reason for it to be removed from its owners.

“If the dog is causing problems or is a danger to people, that’s a different matter – but if they are family pets loved by their owners and doing no harm, there’s no way they should be forced out of their flats.

“I’m fully supportive of the residents. As a dog owner myself, there’s nothing worse than losing a pet.”

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