Whitehouse Kennels & Cattery

Boarding Kennels in Upminster

St Marys Lane
North Ockendon
Upminster
Essex
RM14 3PA

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Phone: 01708 2...

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Very Bad Experience with Whitehouse Kennels

I would like to share with you all my experience of Whitehouse Kennels as I believe without such reviews it is very difficult to judge a kennel you may not be familiar with. In November 2012 I had to go away for 4 nights, I have two female Staffordshire bull terriers, aged 4 ½ whom I have had since the day they were born. My usual kennels was closed for the period I was travelling so I had to consider others. Whitehouse Kennels were named by my usual kennels as they are nearby but she didn’t know very much about them or the standard of care they offer. I phoned Whitehouse and asked if I could come and take a look around which they were happy for me to do so. I did notice that they held a lot more dogs than my usual kennels did but they assured me they had 40 years experience in the business and the dogs are very well looked after. They have an indoor kennel area and an outdoor one; I was told the outdoor ones were holding pens during the day whilst the indoor ones are being cleaned. I was assured they would be walked every day by a member of staff for at least 5-10 minuets once or twice a day depending on how many dogs they were taking care of at that time, although this is a lot less to what my girls are used to I do understand being in kennels means walks have to be limited to ensure all dogs get some exercise. I decided to give them a try based on the information on their website and the discussion I had on my visit. I dropped my girls off there on the Wednesday morning they both had separate kennels; I gave clear written instructions to the kennel staff about my girls, their routine and the do’s and don’ts. They are typical Staffordshire bull terriers quite bouncy at times but they do listen and do adhere to instructions when you are firm and confident with them. I described both dogs character, one is more dominate than the other and does often make growling noises if an unfamiliar person approaches her but as long as you are firm with her and correct her she does allow you to have contact and loves a belly rub or kisses and once familiar with someone she is fine. Her sister is a lot more passive and although she will bark and make strange high pitched squeals she is absolutely fine with people. I asked that both dogs not be mixed with any other dogs at the kennels as they do require proper introduction before they are at ease with a new dog. I also asked that they not be left in the outside kennels for too long as all the other dogs were visible and I felt this would somewhat distress them, I asked if once the indoor kennels were cleaned if they could return there, with it being November it was also starting to get quite chilly. I left my instructions and their bedding, treats etc and was due to return on the Sunday to collect them. When I returned one of the younger members of staff took me to the outside kennels where both of my dog were. There was faeces in both kennels but I though this may have been recent and so I didn’t say anything. I asked her how they had been and she said they were fine but they were not able to walk them, she said the staff were too scared to handle them so they didn’t. I was a bit taken aback by this and asked if they were walked at all in the 4 nights/5 days they were there. She said no. I asked how they got them from the indoor to the outdoor kennels each day, to which she replied they let them run lose from one to the other. This would mean they would have passed a number of other dogs on the way. This caused alarm bells to ring but for now I just wanted to get my girls out of there and digest what I had been told. When we returned home my girls were very quite and subdued, they do tend to be a bit quieter when they return from kennels but not to the extent they were this time. One of them had a cut nose and various cuts on the bottom of the front paws. Something was clearly not right! The next morning I phoned the kennels I normally use and asked the owner for an honest opinion of my girls and how they behave when staying with her. She said although they have their moments they are fine, she is firm with them and has never had a problem trying to put them on a lead or walking them and she has never had a problem making them listen to her. I then phoned Whitehouse Kennels and spoke to the owner and explained the situation, I asked exactly what they had/hadn’t done and raised my concerns. He said they had been fine and looked after during their stay, I asked if he could find out from the kennel staff why they were never walked to which he told me if a member of staff is uncertain about a dog they will not attempt to make contact with them and that he had a member of staff who was bitten by a German Sheppard a few months earlier and so they are all very cautious. He said he would contact me the following day with further details. I waited...and I waited some more. After 5 days of no call back I phoned him again. I asked why he had not called me back and the answer I got was ‘I forgot’. He said he had spoken with his staff and he was satisfied my girls were fine, looked after properly and received an adequate standard of care. He said he would not put any of his staff in danger and so if my dogs scared them then it was fine that they didn’t walk them. I explained what their website said about exercising; ‘Exercise We are with your dog from 08:30am when we clean their kennel and let them out into the exercise yards, as well as the exercise yards we walk your animals separately on our grass field daily insuring adequate exercise is maintained. there is no extra fee for this . At 5:00pm your dog is then taken in for bed time. Please also note that all animals are checked in the evening.’ He again went on about the member of staff who had been bitten by the German Sheppard and other ‘staffies’ that have been hard to handle. He also said that most kennels do not walk dogs as often as they say they do and they just make it up and talk rubbish. He felt my dogs received enough exercise space in the outdoor kennels (a space around 3ft x 5ft), really you think that is okay for a dog in your care for 5 days?! I tried to explain that the majority of dogs will experience kennel stress, I know this from my experience of working with rescue dogs. I have volunteered for various animal rescue groups doing transport runs, temporary foster care, homechecks and fund raising. I also tried to explain that the instructions I had left if followed by a confident experienced kennel worker would not have put any one in danger. When working with rescue dogs we don’t even get instructions and have no history of a dog but that does not mean we would not walk it. At this point the owner was quite abrupt with me and very on the defensive. I felt he did not really care about any of it and just wanted me to get off the phone. I repeatedly got told he would not put his staff at risk but at the same time was being told my girls were fine there, so which was it? If they were fine then how was his staff at risk. The conversation was often contradicting at times. I wanted to know what I had paid them for and why they did not deliver what they said they were going to and what their website says, he then in his bullying manner said is it just about the money, NO Whitehouse Kennels there is no issue with money when it comes to the welfare of my girls no price is too high! To conclude, my opinion based on my experience with Whitehouse Kennels is that they take in too many dogs and therefore the standard of care provided for each is very basic. I believe the young employee who told me about the dogs not being walked slipped up and wasn’t actually supposed to tell me, and had she not I would have been none the wiser. I feel that if the staff will not handle dogs if they are scared of them then this should be made clear before someone makes a booking, and in all honesty someone working with dogs everyday should be able have the confidence and experience to handle distressed dogs. I would never use Whitehouse Kennels again nor would I ever recommend them, the service I received when making my complaint was atrocious. I am very upset for what I have put my girls through and will make sure in future if using somewhere new I will not use them without a personal recommendation.

Halina Bhati - 24/01/2013

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