Sunday 12 January 2014
Changes to kennel access at Wood Green
Kennels at Wood Green are closing for the general viewing of dogs this month.
From January 20th, the Charity’s headquarters in Godmanchester will be restricting access to The Coco Markus Kennels. Only those genuinely looking to rehome a dog will be permitted.
Various studies worldwide have shown that a constant stream of strangers viewing dogs is extremely stressful for them, leading to excessive barking, hiding and panting.
Therefore in the best interests of their welfare, Wood Green have taken the decision, in line with other leading charities, to limit kennel viewing to people who are actively looking for a new canine companion.
Head of Animal Welfare Linda Cantle said: “We understand that some people will be disappointed by not being able to visit the dogs; however our animals’ welfare is always our overriding priority.
“Research carried out last summer revealed that on average just 15% of the visitors to the kennels were interested in rehoming a dog.
“For dogs, the rescue kennel environment is extremely stressful. We have introduced a number of techniques to reduce the negative effect but we are still seeing a deterioration of behaviour and health in the dogs in our care on a daily basis.
“We are confident managing the number of visitors to the kennel area will significantly improve the welfare of the dogs. Stress levels and the associated negative behaviours will be reduced.
“The improved kennel behaviour will result in enhanced interactions between potential rehomers and the dogs and therefore better and quicker rehoming prospects.”
Anyone looking to rehome a dog from Wood Green will be directed into the reception area to talk to a member of staff and discuss the rehoming process and possible suitable animals prior to visiting the dogs.
For further information please call us on 0300 303 9333.
Q. Why are we no longer able to walk freely around the kennels?
A. As a Charity Wood Green focuses on providing the best possible welfare for the animals in our care. We believe by giving the public free access to the kennels we are not providing this. Our recent in house studies have confirmed that allowing people to walk around the kennels is causing the dogs distress. This is then affecting the dog’s mental and physical health. An independent study was also completed with the results proving that the dogs were noticeably happier and calmer in a quieter atmosphere.
Q. Why can’t l choose my own dog?
A. We feel that generally the homing process goes better if we work with you to choose the right dog for your lifestyle and needs. There is no limit as to how many dogs you can meet, until you have found the correct one. You will still be able to look around after our initial discussion with you but we will be able to highlight dogs that would suit your needs. This also helps us to potentially introduce you to dogs that you may not see when you initially walk round the kennels, as some dogs hide away inside as they find the kennels overwhelming.
Q. I like to bring my children along at the weekend to see the animals, why can’t l do this anymore?
A. Even though the rehoming area will be closed to general visitors, there will be lots of other opportunities to learn about what we do. Our Community Engagement Team run workshops and days where the children can come and spend time with other animals at Wood Green and you may even get to help train a dog to perform new tricks.
Our main aim at Wood Green is to rehome the dogs that have come into our care and to allow them every opportunity to be seen by their potential forever homes. If they are frightened and are hiding because of the volumes of visitors we see their chances lessen in finding a home quickly. We believe we are doing them a disservice to allow this to happen.
We are a Rehoming/Visitor Centre and so have to focus on the visitors who are coming to offer a pet a home, many dogs do find lots of visitors stressful. We have educational resources on our website and can arrange for speakers to visit schools and we believe this is a more productive way for children to learn about animal welfare and Wood Green.
Q. How do you know that the dogs are stressed?
A. Our teams have many years experience of working with dogs, through this they are able to identify the signs of stress in the dogs they work with every day, some include
- Coming to the front of the kennels and barking in a distressed way.
- Sitting at the back door of their kennel looking for an escape or hiding at the back of the kennel
- Bouncing and spinning scrabbling at the walls
- Shut down – reducing interaction with people, avoiding social contact not wanting to leave their beds
- Weight loss
Q. Why have you chosen to close the kennels and not the other animal sections?
A. We have currently limited visiting to our dog section as we have found that, as companion animals, dogs in particular find a constant stream of visitors very stressful. Unable to interact with people as they would like, they can display signs of frustration including barking, panting and pacing, and will then try and hide themselves away meaning they are less likely to find a home. Cats, and other species, are far less dependent on humans for company and generally cope far better with the environment at Wood Green, however we will be keeping a close eye and managing visitors to all sections to ensure their welfare needs are met at all times.
Q. I usually bring my school/Brownies/WI etc. for a tour of the centre, can l still do this?
A. We do welcome pre-arranged group visits to give us the opportunity to show off our work and we can arrange talks and demonstrations. This will also allow small groups and tours to be given their own private tour of the kennels and because the dogs will be calm and not distressed this will be a much more enjoyable experience for all. You will need to contact us directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0844 248 81818 to arrange this.
Q. I am a Wood Green supporter and have left a legacy in my will for the Charity. Why can’t l see where my money will be spent?
A. We are very grateful for the support we receive and we rely entirely on generous donations like yours. Hopefully you support us because you care about animal welfare as much as we do. Due to our findings regarding stress on the dogs we have had to review our procedures. However, please feel free to contact us and we can personally show you around and discuss with you at length the reasons behind our decisions.
Q. How do you expect to rehome dogs if no one can see them?
A. We have spoken to other charities that have made this move and they have found that their rehoming numbers have not dropped and in many cases have increased. They have also found the success of their matching systems have improved, with the numbers of dogs returning to them falling.