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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
  • Diarrhoea

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 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.



  • Anne Harris
    12 January 2014, 17:12

    I think this is a very good idea as i have seen for myself how stress affects dogs in different ways. We always adopt and have seen how our own dogs can change when put in kennels for a short time. Well done all the lovely people who care so much for these dogs at Wood Green.

  • Anne Pewsey
    13 January 2014, 22:55

    I'm really pleased you have taken this step, it will give the animals a bit more peace, quiet & calm. Keep up the good work.

  • Sonia Reilly
    14 January 2014, 09:16

    Well done Linda and Wood Green. This will ensure only genuine adopters view the dogs, and not the hordes of people who clutter up the place using it as a free viewing zoo. Kennels are extremely stressful places, and doing this will make the environment a little less stressful for the animals.

  • Anonymous commenter
    14 January 2014, 09:47

    Great idea!! The Godmanchester site is such a lovely place that there is plenty of space to walk around without having to visit the dogs unless you are genuinely interested in adopting one.

  • Clive Russell
    14 January 2014, 10:26

    I understand the concept of this and support you in your fantastic work. We adopted the most fantastic dog in the world from Wood Green 9 years ago and still going strong. Lovely Milo. However I have always maintained that he chose us.
    Just a little food for thought. Please keep up your fantastic work.

  • Sheena Murkin
    14 January 2014, 13:35

    Think this is a great idea....the dogs welfare comes first and it must be so distressing for them having hordes of people look at them with no intention of adopting.

  • Jan
    14 January 2014, 14:00

    Excellent idea, well done WG. As a rescuer and previous foster of another animal charity, I am really glad you have taken this decision. It is in the animals best interest, which after all gives me the best possible chance of a home.

  • Frankie Field
    14 January 2014, 14:13

    Adopted a staffy called harry from yourselves in November who was highly stressed in the kennels and didnt like the constant influx of visitors, I think this is a good idea.
    It doesnt stop rehoming I think it will actually better help tailor dogs matching their needs to prospective owners, as we went in and saw 3 other staffs we like and none were suitable, the staff suggested Harry and he couldnt be a better fit!

  • Claire Jones
    14 January 2014, 17:17

    Grea idea, it's not a zoo. I can't fathom why people would think it is okay just to go any look at the anials every weekend. Hopefully it will mean people who are really interested will be able to rehome a dog more quickly and efficiently, and therefore allow new animals a place there.

  • Sally Miller
    14 January 2014, 20:42

    Well done Wood Green for taking this decision in the interest of the animals which is how it should be always .

    There will be those that don't like it but I hope they don't stay away and continue to visit and support the shelter and its work .

  • Anonymous commenter
    14 January 2014, 22:28

    Well I for one ant happy about this as I think it reduces there chances of finding a home wich then makes them b there linger its bad anoth u having age limit on the dogs aswel wat chance have they got yet u all complain about having a high volume of dogs there I think u should have the visitors in wiv the dogs like they use to at the other woodgreen in Haydon that was the best way to get to know people in the animals eyes and not b shut bhind fencing as thats how they can get distressed more like that u r never gona rehome them closing them away like u r doing thats bad

  • Anonymous commenter
    15 January 2014, 08:44

    I do not agree. The dogs are stressed because they are in kennels, not because people view them. In fact I think you should promote more human interaction, not less. Humans being on one side of the bars and the dogs on the other will naturally promote stress because the dog is frustrated that it can't interact. They are animals that crave affection and companionship and I think you should allow more people to interact with them outside of the kennel. I used to visit regularly to talk to them and donate and would have loved to take them for a little walk even though I wasn't going to rehome at that time (I have rehomed 4 dogs from Wood green). Even though I was restricted to talking to them behind bars I believed this interaction benefited us both. In the long run I think this will induce a reduction in donations and cause more harm than good.

  • Anonymous commenter
    15 January 2014, 10:35

    We agree with the other 2 people that have added comments,we to think that this is a bad move on several levels,firstly it will reduce your income at the shops and restaurant,we visit several times a year and always have a drink and or meal,we look in the shop and bring donations of blankets etc. I suppose you will be sending out begging letters to make up the downfall!Secondly what is to stop people saying they want a dog and then refusing all dogs offered,(my family has adopted several dogs from you over the years).Whilst we understand that some dogs may get very stressed (these dogs could be kept separate)most dogs we find are happy to come to the front of the cage and have a fuss.We are a doggy family and therefore don't look at cats etc so you are denying my family a chance to come and see all types of dogs and choose the one we want not the one your staff think we need.So in the long run we think this move will not benefit dogs or humans or the long term running of the centre.We will certainly not be coming to Godmanchester to adopt our next dog which will be in the very near future.

  • Tracy Allan
    15 January 2014, 12:13

    I fully agree with the decision that Wood Green has made. I have visited the dogs in the past and noticed how excited some dogs become when receiving attention, only for the person to walk away. The dejection that these dogs must feel when this happens over and over again must be soul destroying for them. As one poster put it - WG isn't a zoo, and the dogs are not there for people's entertainment - particularly young children. My own dog finds it quite distressing to be at Wood Green when I pop along to take things to the Thrift Shop and to visit the shop. If people truly wanted to support WG they would still go to go to the shop and cafe and to take things to the Thrift shop. I go along quite regularly without the urge to go and see the dogs as I find it so upsetting. I don't think the dogs should be subjected to constant interaction by a high volume of strangers one after the other, this sort of interaction is not good on a social level.

  • Anonymous commenter
    15 January 2014, 12:45

    As someone who has worked many years with rescue dogs in kennels, I can only reiterate how incredibly stressful it is for dogs to have endless crowds of (often noisy) people walking past their kennel. Ultimately dogs in rehoming centres are there to be rehomed, not as a tourist attraction. I do sympathise with those who do not understand this decision, but I assure you if you worked in a busy dog rescue kennels, watching a dog losing the plot to kennelling is heartbreaking and the simple fact is the quieter and more calm the kennels are, the better it is for the dogs.

  • Tracy
    15 January 2014, 14:40

    I think the decision to close the kennels to the visitors has two sides.

    One - the dogs will probably be more settled not having a constant stream of visitors (I'm sure I'd be grumpy if I wanted to sleep and someone kept calling my name all the time). If they have more peaceful moments then they will be able to chill out more which would help to make sure the ones that are really stressed out by kennelling are highlighted and their issues could be dealt with individually rather than spending time on a whole heap of highly stressed dogs.

    Two - it might limit people who really aren't sure what sort of dog they want. My partner and I for example visited the kennels several times to see what dogs were available and it gave us some time to look at and read about the different dogs and their personalities. We were not looking at any particular breed but we came across a lurcher who was curled up in his bed at the back of the kennel. This particular dog wasn't interested in other people but when Neil and I went over to him he came over to see us. We took him for a walk and thought he was cute. We came back twice and spent a bit more time with him and the staff who helped us decide he was for us. I do think that day he chose us not the other way round but if we were looking for a particular dog we might not have ended up with our boy x

  • Ann
    16 January 2014, 22:56

    Whilst we appreciate the reasoning behind this decision we are saddened by its introduction. We are a family with young children who are not in a position to be able to adopt a dog, although our children would dearly love to. We have explained that our working arrangements would not be suitable to the welfare of a dog and that to take on the responsibility would be very unfair on the dog. For a number of years we have visited the centre, approx twice a year for the children to view the animals and to make a donation, explaining how this money is used. For our children actually seeing the dogs, staff and the care involved alongside explanations of how their money has helped the animals over the years has enabled them to invest on a personal level with the centre. Taking away these visits to see the dogs has altered their perception of the centre and their attachment to it. We have explained the reasoning behind this decision and how it is in the dogs best interests but I can't help but wonder how it will affect the future of the shelter.

  • Maria
    17 January 2014, 14:17

    I think this is a very good decision. We have adopted 3 cats from Wood Green and have often been to the site to view the cats and dogs and to attend events. I have always been saddened at how distressed some of the dogs appear. Not all dogs like lots of attention and noise, and those that appear fine must crave attention from the visitors who can't play with them of cuddle them. This surely can't be good for them. Whilst I will miss visiting the dogs I will be happy in the knowledge they are having a more relaxing time in the kennels which must be stressful in itself.

  • Amanda
    17 January 2014, 16:49

    Here here Wood Green! The dogs are not there for people's entertainment, they are there to be rehomed. I would never go to a rehoming centre just to go and look at the dogs as I know how stressful it must be for them. Many dogs in kennels are not themselves in this environment and are stressed by so many new faces (not to mention noisy inconsiderate children!!), we need to give them a chance to be at their best so that people who are serious about rehoming will want to give them a chance.

    I am planning to rehome a dog when I have moved house. This move from WG does NOT put me off, it makes me think that WG put welfare first, and that I will be able to make this important decision with the help of staff, and not have to deal with crowds of people upsetting the animals.

  • Anonymous commenter
    17 January 2014, 19:51

    Can fully understand trying to make the dogs stay in kennels as stress free as possible, but could the kennels layout not have been changed, I remember years ago when you could view the dogs in there indoor area through a window. Would reduce noise levels and prevent people trying to get dogs attention and trying to stroke them. I just know 2 families that both rehomed dogs and have given them great loving homes, just because they fell in love when they see them at wood green whilst looking around, they wouldn't of actually gone looking for them. Would be a shame if rehoming numbers reduced

  • Lauren
    19 January 2014, 12:19

    I think this is a really great idea. When we were looking for a dog, all the dogs were hiding in their 'corridoors' in the kennels, meaning it was hard to see them. Also, Hank, who is a lovely lad, was shivering and very distressed. It was giving the wrong ideas about the dogs. I hope the new system will work!

  • Linda
    22 January 2014, 15:28

    Well done Wood Green ,It definitely is the right decision.
    We have had 3 dogs from you all terriers of various types,Alfie who lived to 19 years and Ted to 16 . We now have Bailey(alias Tyler ) who has been with us 2 years . He was hyper active in the kennels jumping up at the railings and was very noisy. Several people took him out before us but found him unsuitable, He walked well with us around Wood Green and was calm so he chose us and is the most wonderful well behaved and loyal dog.
    Wood Green is not a Zoo, its a rehoming centre that wants to find the best owners for each dog. The chance for individual viewings will help facilitate this and only people who are serious about the animals adoption will follow this process.
    If people are genuinely interested in animal welfare they will continue to support Wood Green with donations and attendance of fund raising events .
    P S please think about bringing back the Christmas Carol Concert at Wood Green My friends and I really miss it.
    Keep up the good work and we hope to book a visit soon to find a companion for Bailey.

  • jojo
    23 January 2014, 13:34

    Thank goodness you have made this decision -- i feel that it is long overdue-- most dogs in any rescue centre have had to go through enough stress in their life with out the added disturbance of people just coming to look and often reserving dogs on a whim ------ hopefully other rescue centres will follow your example.

  • Julie
    31 January 2014, 16:51

    Why not make an entrance charge as they do at Battersea dogs home. This would reduce the amount of people just looking with no intention of rehoming
    and at the same time increase revenue.

  • Caley
    02 March 2014, 08:41

    I think this can only be a good idea yes it may put some people off but genuine dog lovers would only be 2happy to reduce the stress to a dog. And if the potential re homers are truly dedicated to giving a dog a new home they will be happy to go through this well structured process.

  • Ann
    03 March 2014, 18:00

    I dont agree with what you are doing in this respect. I do think that you should control who and when people see the dogs and how they behave around them but many dogs love interaction with people and dogs that are nervous and anxious need quiet and loving interaction or they will never feel safe and confident and perhaps never find a forever home. I have 9 rescue dogs and 6 rescue cats and have had rescue dogs all my life and worked in Spain for 12.5 years rescuing dogs and cats from horrendous situations. I came back to England 4 years ago and brought my 9 rescue dogs and 6 rescue cats with me. I do think you will also lose donations by refusing to let people interact sensitively with the dogs and I think you could find have a happy medium where the dogs welfare is paramount but part of that welfare is having happy and loving times with different people. As for you choosing dogs for people that is just plain wrong and patronising, by all means give advice and refuse adoptions if you feel they are wrong but to dictate what kind of dog a family want or need is just too highhanded. Also people need to see you are caring properly for the animals or they wont donate, I wouldn't and I think many others will question these new rules so I would ask you to think again for the sake of the animals.

  • Linzie
    11 March 2014, 18:14

    I fully agree ,but I'm sure others won't ,it's not about a free day out its about rehoming these four legged babies ,and I applauded woodgreen for doing whatever is required to make this happen and the less stress the better X

  • Sarah
    20 August 2014, 22:15

    Great decision. We visited some years ago and rehomed a gorgeous black lab and she still lives with us now but I was appalled by people just visiting as a fun day out. Kids shouting etc and fingers poking in the cages, pulling on the fences etc. I found the visit upsetting as I wanted to take them all home it's not a fun day out. Animal welfare first!

  • Sam
    02 November 2014, 14:41

    Of course the dogs well fare is the most important thing,
    But like a few off the other comments, I don't entirely agree this is a good idea, some dogs will b missing out on being re homed due to visitors that would come to purely see the dogs, then while walking around, fall in love with one (which happened with our rescue dog) if we were not been allowed to walk around that day, he wouldn't of been living in his forever home for the last five years. Also been sat in a room having to describe what kind of dog you want etc (when most people fall for the dog at first sight/interaction) can be very intimidating and off putting to some people, which can put people off from even visiting.

  • Anne
    02 November 2014, 21:34

    I have just visited the website to check I have the correct postcode as will be visiting for the first time in a while. I have frequently donated anything I can spare to WG in the memory of two wonderful dogs I rehomed from there 18 years ago. I am delighted to see the change in policy as I know how stressful it is for dogs to have constant noise and to be forever either looking to please humans who often, once their often noisy and ill mannered children are ready to move in to the 'next attraction'just leave and the poor dog feels rejected or others who are cowering at the back of the kennel wanting nothing more than peace and quiet.
    The comments from those opposing this move really do speak for the kind of people that the dogs will no longer be subjected to
    Well done WG and see you soon

  • Antony Collins
    22 November 2014, 09:34

    I think your change is a step in the right direction although more research needs to be done in some fields of dog psychology.
    You didn't help matters by turning the shelter into a half day out venue although I fully understand the revenue the catering facilities, pet shop and various themed fairs etc contribute to essential funds so long as they can be run profitably with volunteers.
    I was a frequent visitor for a while, genuinely seeking a lifelong furry friend.
    What upset me more was the noticeable large numbers of families and couples who were purely there for a free dog zoo tour and uncontrolled children taunting the quieter dogs for a reaction.
    You have your priorities in the correct order - animal welfare first.

  • Chris
    02 December 2014, 16:46

    Good move WG! I can understand why some people would be upset by this decision but at the end of the day you guys are the experts and im sure any loss of revenue has been factored into the equation. Its not a petting zoo and if you are actually interested in a dog then the website is ample enough to start the ball rolling. You do some absolutely wonderfull work with the animals in your care and this decision reflects your priorities.

  • Bernita
    05 February 2015, 18:04

    I totally agree with your decision. Last year we rescued a Rottweiler ( from a different rescue centre) and we were never given access to the kennel area. We were firstly assessed as potential owners and then offered a dog which they considered would best suit our personal circumstances. We got to meet our new dog away from the hustle and bustle of his kennel, walk him and decide if we liked him, and if he liked us. It is very stressful for the dogs when streams of people parade up and down, making strange sounds and when total strangers stare at them. Your dogs will still get human interaction with your kennel staff, but in a much more relaxed environment. You are not a Zoo. Incidentally, one of our cats is a rescue from WGAS and we only spotted him by accident, because he was hiding and clearly did not enjoy being watched by total strangers. I think you have made the right decision.

  • Anonymous commenter
    06 February 2015, 15:59

    I have donated to WG for many years and will continue to do so!
    You have made the right decision, dogs can get very distressed with noise and people coming and going constantly.
    Their welfare is paramount .
    Hopefully to see you soon,keep up the good work.

  • Anonymous commenter
    14 February 2015, 18:01

    Having rehomed two dogs from you its a shame it took so long to introduce
    this very simple and obvious rule. Good luck we are sure you will still
    Rehomed hundreds of pets in need.

  • Anonymous commenter
    15 March 2015, 21:34

    As previous commentators have said, WG is not a zoo. We came along recently to visit a particular dog who sadly had a few traits which did not suit our family environment so we could not home him. However, whilst we were looking around, there were several families poking their fingers through the bars, shouting at the dogs and generally winding them up into a frenzy of barking and jumping - and these were people who were apparently, genuinely looking to rehome! So, if you multiply this by ten and open up the doors to everyone, I pity the poor dogs who would not get a moments peace and quiet. One poor little man (who was probably quite well behaved normally) barked himself hoarse so his chances of being rehomed by someone looking for a (normally) quiet dog would have been severely limited. In summary, WG is neither a zoo nor a petting farm for dogs and so I fully support the decision to limit access to genuine (well behaved) people who are looking to rehome. Keep up the good work WG!

  • Kay
    31 March 2015, 13:57

    I have been visiting WG for several years and have always enjoyed seeing all of the animals, however, I welcome the new rehoming structure.

    WG actively work towards pairing up the right dog with the right home and I believe that their restrictions to the kennels, interviews and advise works brilliantly.

    I have rehomed two dogs from WG, one before the changes and one since. I have to admit that the first adoption was based on love at first sight and nothing would have convinced me that adoption was not the right decision, she was an elderly dog with mutliple health issues that cost me an arm and a leg, but I did not resent one penny or one minute spent on her. She was my darling.

    My second dog came under the new rulings which worked out well because I wanted to rehome from my head and not just my heart.

    Yet again, I have found the perfect canine companion.

    WG you are fab and don't let anyone else say any different.

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