Wood Green, the Animals Charity is set to close its Godmanchester kennels to casual visitors.

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Only those people with a genuine interest in adopting a dog will be allowed in following concerns that a constant stream of visitors is having a negative impact on their health.

The charity said from Monday it will restrict access to The Coco Markus Kennels to limit the stress caused to the dogs.

It said staff had become ­increasingly concerned about the effect of visitors on the dog’s welfare, leading to behaviour such as ­excessive barking, hiding and panting.

The move, which would put Wood Green in line with recent worldwide studies, might also be extended to cats.

Head of animal welfare Linda Cantle said: “We have 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 to 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 welfare needs are met at all times.

“We understand that some people will be disappointed by not being able to visit the dogs but our animals’ welfare is always our overriding priority.

“Research carried out last summer revealed that on average just 15 per cent 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, and 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 for a dog will be directed to Wood Green’s reception area to talk to a member of staff and discuss the rehoming process and possible suitable animals before being allowed to visit the dogs.

Wood Green will be closing all animal sections to the public on Mondays, excluding Bank Holidays, so that teams can spend additional time with animals and undertake any necessary training.

INFORMATION: Call Wood Green on 0844 248 8181 or visit www.woodgreen.org.uk

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