I am a pet lover and my husband and I live with my dog, Dusty, and cat, Ruddles, in outside of Cambridge. I do see a difference in the importance of pets in the English lives. I know as Americans, we love our pets, but not the way the English do. The English have hefty laws against animal abuse and it is illegal to declaw your cat in the UK.
English landlords have a different attitude towards pets than in the States. Generally, “80% of all rentals off-base do not allow pets”, unless approved by prior agreement. This may entail either a double deposit at the start of the lease, or additional clauses added to the lease, such as the carpets are professionally cleaned at the tenant’s expense when the property is vacated. This can be expensive. Please be honest from the beginning what animals you plan to bring with you, or acquire while in England, because if you break the terms of the lease by bringing an animal onto the premises, you could lose your home.
I would suggest that you do not get a dog while you are here unless you want it for life. There are a lot of dogs that are constantly being rehomed when families PCS and as the Dog Trust charity says "a dog is for life, not for Christmas". If you do decide to bring your dog, you should also make sure that you exercise them enough; it is good for you both! It will reduce the damage they may cause to your home and get you in shape at the same time. I walk my dog, Dusty, regularly in my village. You will find in the local area, there are plenty of footpaths to take them on. Dog parks are not a thing here, people train their dogs to walk with them.
There have been incidents that have made the news in the local area which does not help the perception of service members and their pet owning capability. One incident that I heard about when I was inprocessing was the murder of a Labrador by a Senior Airman in 2006. He killed the dog after an argument with his wife and the body was found in the rubbish bin. He was given a sentence of 18-weeks in jail. In 2013, an airman pleaded guilty to three charges of not providing proper nutrition to his three dogs. At the time, he was in confinement for a month on-base and did not let anyone know he had any pets. He was given an eight week sentence which was suspended.
Also be weary of giving your animal away for free. If you cannot keep your dog, please take it to a charity rather than giving it away just to be safe so that it will have a good home. Some nasty people take these pets as bait for fighting dogs so do the best thing and leave it up to the experts!
England is a very small country with lots of things to see and do. Most places dogs are not allowed, so you then have the problem of what to do with them. I tend to go away for holiday in the winter to the seaside because dogs are allowed on the beach from October to April. However, many pubs will allow dogs which is always handy when you are out and about! So you can plan to stop for lunch when you are venturing out! You can take dogs on trains and buses but it is up to the driver to let you on.
In order to bring your pets with you, they must have a microchip, rabies vaccination (done after the microchip and more than 21 days before travelling), pet passport, and for dogs, tapeworm treatment. If you do not have these items, you will need to put your pets in quarantine. You need to also make sure that they travel on approved routes. A great source of information and a place to ask questions is the PCSing with Pets to the UK Facebook group. You should also look at the DEFRA website.
On-base, you are only allowed two pets and they will not allow some breeds in base housing. These breeds include American Staffordshire Bull Terriers, English Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow or Wolf hybrids and this includes mixed breeds. Also they will not allow exotic animals such as reptiles, rodents ferrets, hedgehogs, skunks, rats, raccoons, squirrels, potbellied pigs, monkeys, arachnids, or farm animals. Gerbils and hamster are okay. You must register any pet that you have with the Vet on RAF Feltwell.
Another thing you will need to get used to is that a lot of cats in England are outdoors cats. We let our cats out and they go on their routines and they come home. Do not always assume that they are lost, even if they do not have a collar. My cat, Ruddles, has lost several collars so we gave up putting one on him. If you do think a cat is lost, take them to a vet and they can scan the microchip and return it to them to their owner.
Also you are not responsible for what your cat does when it is not on your property. The Animal Act of 1971 excluded cats when it stated that owners are responsible for their cat when not on their property and are free to roam. So I suggest to others to teach your children not to approach an animal without the okay of the owner. If you have cats that frequent your yard, you can take steps to deter them with tips from the RSPB.
As in the US, homes are zoned in certain areas which means that farm animals are unable to be kept in residential areas. Most rental homes will not allow pets and it is very unlikely that they will allow you to keep chickens or anything like this because of the damage they cause to the land and the mess that they leave behind. I am afraid if you were hoping to rear anything that is not a domestic pet like a dog or cat, the chances are very slim that the landlord will allow it and even if they do, it is probably not allowed by the deed of the house.
Even though the area that the bases are in is rural, it is generally being used for crops and to rear animals to feed people. Horse owners in England generally keep their horses in livery yards. If you are looking to have a horse while you are here, it is best that you look for a house near a place where you can keep a horse and abandon your hopes to have a home that you can keep a horse. Again the deed of the house states what kind of use of the land is permitted.
 Air Force Housing, “Housing in the Local Community,” accessed May 24, 2013, http://www.housing.af.mil/raflakenheath/localcommunity/index.asp
 Dogs Trust, “A God is For Life, Not Just for Christmas,” accessed June 26, 2013, http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/az/a/adogisforlife/#.UcrPv_lwrng
 Stars & Stripes, “Senior airman gets 18 weeks for improperly killing pet dog,” accessed May 24, 2013, http://www.stripes.com/news/senior-airman-gets-18-weeks-for-improperly-killing-pet-dog-1.54356
 Cambridge Evening News, “Airman Left Dogs to Starve,” accessed May 24, 2013, http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Airman-left-dogs-to-starve-11102012.htm.
 Examiner.com, “The High Price of ‘Free to A Good Homes,” accessed August 7, 2013, http://www.examiner.com/article/the-high-price-of-free-to-good-home
 GOV.UK, “Taking Your Pet Abroad,” accessed May 31, 2013, https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
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 Air Force Housing, “Welcome to the East Anglian Regional Housing Office, RAF Lakenheath,” accessed May 24, 2103, http://www.housing.af.mil/raflakenheath/
 Air Force Housing, “Pet Restrictions,” accessed May 24, 2013, http://www.housing.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-110916-089.pdf
 Legislation.Gov.UK, “Animals Act 1971,” accessed August 20, 2013, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1971/22