Couple Refusing To Give Up Dogs for Niece's Severe Allergy Backed: 'Unfair'

A mother has been backed online for refusing to give up her dogs despite her niece's severe allergy.

The poster used the handle Dogsdander and set out the situation on the parenting forum Mumsnet, asking for other users' opinions. It has since received over 500 responses.

She explained she is in a "good position" as she can work from home with her husband so they can help babysit their family's children.

The mom-of-one explains there are sometimes nine children in her home ranging in age from four to 12 years old. And they all refer to the home as the "fun house."

Two dogs and little girl
This stock image shows a little girl and two dogs in a backyard. A mom has been backed for refusing to re-home her dogs despite her niece's allergy. Upyanose/iStock/Getty Images Plus

But six months ago, she and her husband purchased two dogs before realizing her niece has an allergy to them that causes her to wheeze and have trouble breathing.

The poster explained they tried to minimize the allergens in their home by regularly vacuuming, steam cleaning the carpets and buying an air purifier. The dogs are also kept outdoors during her niece's visits.

She said: "We decided this wasn't a viable option to do on a regular basis because of the cost and the increased amount of wear and tear. It also leaves the majority of our house unusable while we waited for the carpet to dry."

The original poster's brother has tried a number of medications to try and help but they interfere with the medication Gemma, her niece, is already taking.

Running out of options, the mom has been asked to re-home the dogs.

"Gemma is upset that she hasn't been able to come over to the 'fun house' and play with her cousins all these months while they still come over all the time. My brother thinks that we are causing her to feel left out by not getting rid of the dogs.

"I understand how unfair it must feel for Gemma, but neither I nor my husband or son want to get rid of our dogs. They're part of the family now. We have become very attached to them. Especially our son. He would cry his eyes out if they had to be given up.

"It's not like we can stop watching the other kids make Gemma feel less excluded either. Our siblings don't have it as easy as us and they need help sometimes."

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, allergies to dogs and cats affect 10 –20 percent of the population worldwide.

While poodles, Portuguese water dogs, and a number of other breeds—including several types of terriers—have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, a truly allergy-free breed does not exist. A study in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy compared dust samples from homes with dog breeds reported to be hypoallergenic and those of homes with other dogs. The levels of dog allergen in homes with "hypoallergenic" dogs did not differ from the levels in homes with other breeds.

It seems keeping their dogs outdoors permanently isn't an option for the original poster so other Mumsnet users have suggested bonding ideas for Gemma and her son.

One said: "Of course, you can't get rid of your dogs to please one child who isn't yours. You can try your very best to make other special time with Gemma, though—arrange some trips out of the house, or arrange to watch her and the cousins at your brother's house instead?"

Another said: "Oh gosh, what a very difficult situation. You should absolutely NOT get rid of your dogs. they are part of your family. However, I feel very sad for your niece who now misses out on so much of family life with her cousins, while knowing that all the other kids are having a good time at yours."

"I don't know what the answer is. I'm sure you're offering a compromise of meeting up outside the home as much as possible, but this won't be so easy as winter draws in."

Another user commented: "What a terrible situation. I think starting with the idea that there is no right answer is how I'd proceed. You can't rehome the dogs. That would be terrible for you, your son, and the dogs. But poor Gemma."

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the story.