5 Facts About Pit Bull-type Dogs

Learn why Pit Bull-type Dog popularity is on the rise

As part of our See Something, Say Something campaign, we wanted to share some important information about Pit Bulls, a “breed” that often gets a bad rap.  Unfortunately, Pit Bull-type dogs often come to our shelters because their owners face housing and insurance restrictions prohibiting certain breeds of dogs.

Here are 5 facts that you need to know about Pit Bull-type dogs:

1. FACT: The “Pit Bull” is not an official breed.
“Pit Bull” is an umbrella term commonly reported to contain the following 3 registered breeds of dogs: Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier.

Many dogs that are classified as “pit bulls” are actually a combination of mixed breed dogs of unknown pedigree or other pure bred dogs which bear some physical resemblance. It is not easy to identify a dog’s breed origin(s) from appearance alone, therefore many dogs who are labeled as Pit Bull-type dogs are actually not.

2. FACT: While some Pit Bull-type dogs were historically bred for the purposes of “blood sports”, the majority were bred to become family dogs and farm help.
In the 1970s, dog “blood sports” (i.e., dogfighting, street fighting) began to get more attention by law enforcement and, therefore, the media—making the public much more aware of these cruel practices. The hype drew people to the conclusion that the Pit Bull-type dog’s history of involvement in “blood sports” made them uniquely dangerous.

The truth is that one cannot predict a dog’s behavior based on what the ancestral breed was “historically bred for.”  Instead, each dog should be assessed as a unique individual based upon their overall temperament and upbringing.

3. FACT: Pit Bull-type dogs are not born aggressive
Ever heard the phrase “nature vs. nurture”? Well, that applies here too. Pit Bull-type dogs, just like any other type, follow “learned” behavior taught by the humans who raise them.

To put it simply: an attentive caring owner will raise a happy well-adjusted pet. A neglectful and abusive owner will raise an unhappy aggressive pet. More often than not, Pit Bull-type dogs who display aggressive behavior are often the victims of irresponsible ownership.

4. FACT: Pit Bull type dogs do not have “locking jaws”
No such “locking jaw” mechanism exists in a Pit Bull-type dog or any other dog type or breed. There is nothing uncommon about the size and functionality of a Pit Bull-type dog’s jaws or teeth. Additionally, there is no evidence which proves that one dog type or breed is uniquely capable of inflicting serious injury to humans or other animals.

5. FACT: You should consider adopting a Pit Bull-type dog from your local shelter
If you’re looking to add a new furry family member to your household, think about saving a life and adopting. When a Pit Bull-type dog is properly matched to your family and lifestyle, it is a success story in the making. Pit Bull-type dogs are loyal companions, quick learners, and make great exercise buddies.

If you are considering adopting, make sure you visit a shelter that offers behavioral assessments and enrichment programs for all adoptable animals.  At the ARL, for example, staff can that provide insight into a dog’s overall temperament, health, and upbringing. It is always a good idea to bring everyone in the household (including other dogs) to the shelter with you to ensure that your new addition is the right fit for your home and family.

The good news is Pit Bull-type dog popularity is on the rise due to their awesome physical and mental characteristics that make them the perfect companion for responsible, active, and caring owners.

Just ask uber celebrities Tom Brady, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Jessica Biel, and Rachel Ray (just to name a few) why they chose a Pitty as their family pet who they can’t live without!

If you’re looking to add a Pit Bull-type dog or another type of pet to your family, visit our adoptable pets at our shelters, Tuesday – Sunday 1 pm – 6:30 pm.

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If you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Learn more about what you can do to prevent animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action.

 

Adopt & Un-“Leash” Your Dog’s Inner Red Sox Fan

Let’s Go, Red Sox!

In honor of Red Sox opening weekend, all ARL shelter locations will be giving away a FREE official MLB Red Sox leash with every dog adoption from April 10-12th, while supplies last.

Now, that sounds pawstively awesome!

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David Ortiz holding puppy

An instant fan! This pup can’t help but show love to his favorite Red Sox player, David Ortiz.

For information on available dogs or other adoptable animals at our ARL shelter locations, please call or visit us. All of our shelters are open Tuesday – Sunday, 1PM-6:30PM, excluding some holidays.

Boston Shelter:

10 Chandler Street | Boston, MA 02116 | 617-226-5602

Dedham Shelter:

55 Anna’s Place | Dedham, MA 02026 | 781-326-0729

Brewster Shelter:

3981 Main St (Rte 6A) | East Brewster, MA 02631 | 508-255-1030

 

 

 

 

4 Pet Safety Tips for a Hoppy Easter!

Keep your pets safe during the festivities

Spring is in the air and what better way to celebrate than with colorful eggs, bright flowers, and bunny-shaped chocolate– besides, perhaps, adding a new furry member to your family!

Spring Into Love and consider adopting an animal from the Animal Rescue League of Boston!

When you adopt, you give an animal a chance at a better life.  All adoptable animals at the ARL also receive:

  • Spay or neuter services
  • Health screening and veterinary examination
  • Behavior screening and evaluations
  • Vaccinations and flea/tick/mite treatment
  • Microchip identification and registration

Search adoptables now or visit our adoptable pets at our shelters, 1 pm – 6:30 pm, excluding some holidays.

With the Easter and Passover holiday upon us, remember that your pets will be curious about the new decorative items and delish goodies that you bring into your household. Be sure to keep these 4 pet safety tips in mind during the festivities:

  1. Leave lilies at the store. Although beautiful and iconic to Easter, a lily’s leaf, pollen, and flower are highly toxic if ingested by cats. Make sure to keep a special eye on cats as their excellent climbing skills can give them easy access to flowers and plants.

    say no to lilies

    Say no to lilies!

  2. Keep fake grass, candles, and other decorations out of reach. When your pet ingests stringy objects like ribbons or Easter basket grass, they can become wrapped around the base of the tongue or stomach and cause serious intestinal issues. Ceremonial Passover candles should be monitored at all times to prevent pets’ fur from catching fire.
  3. Chocolate and candy are a no-no. Chocolate, especially the darker bitter kind, is poisonous to pets. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, a relative of caffeine, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and death. Many candies and gums contain the sugarless sweetener Xylitol, which is also highly toxic to pets.
  4. Hide eggs from your pets too. Secure pets during Easter egg hunts or other activities where plastic eggs or other small objects can be ingested. Consuming real eggs can cause illness as well if they have spoiled. Keep your pet busy with toys and treats and don’t forget to pick up all hidden gems once the activity is over.

From everyone at the ARL, Happy Easter and Passover!

 

A Mastiff Relief for Titan!

Big and Lovable Lovable Dog thriving after surgery

donations for titan

Titan, 6-year-old Mastiff, needed a $2,000 surgery to remove and test a large tumor in his abdomen.

During a routine neuter surgery,  our shelter veterinarian discovered shelter dog Titan had a large mass in his abdomen.  X-rays confirmed the 6-year-old big and loveable Mastiff had a tumor.

According to ARL shelter veterinarian Dr. Erin Doyle, about 50% of this type of tumor are benign and the other 50% are cancerous.  Sadly, dogs with the cancerous-type of tumor have a 6-month life expectancy after the tumor is removed without additional medical intervention.

Titan needed a $2,000 surgery to immediately remove the tumor and test for cancer.  The ARL moved quickly to get Titan the medical care and testing he needed.

Titan’s goofy grin and happy-go-lucky personality had quickly warmed the hearts of everyone at the shelter.  Everyone was hoping for the best when he underwent surgery a week later.

Thankfully, we got what we were hoping for!

Titan's adoption day

A recovering Titan (Mastiff on the right) post-surgery posing for a photo with his new family on his adoption day!

“Titan’s tumor ended up being a very rare type of benign kidney tumor,” happily reported Dr. Doyle.  “Now that the tumor has been removed, Titan should be able to go on to live a normal life.”

With the tumor gone,  Titan was cured and medically-cleared for adoption. He went home with a new family shortly after surgery and by all reports is doing better than ever!

Would you like to help Titan and other animals like him?

Only with your support can dogs like Titan get emergency medical assistance when they need it most.

The ARL doesn’t receive any government funding and relies solely on the generosity of supporters like you to provide veterinary care and treatment for shelter animals who have no one else to turn to for help when they’re sick or injured.

MAKE YOUR DONATION GO FARTHER NOW!  The Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund will generously match your donation today dollar for dollar!

Please visit arlboston/kintera.org/titan or click the button below to make a donation to help pay for the care and treatment of Titan and other animals like him.

Donate Now

 

 

March is Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month!

There’s more than just cats and dogs at ARL shelters

Many people assume that animal shelters only have cats and dogs, but here at the ARL we have a knowledgeable staff and are able to accommodate a variety of animals including guinea pigs.

And they are just waiting for to find their perfect match!

Meet BooBoo, an adorable 5-year-old female guinea pig available for adoption at our Boston shelter. She’s a friendly, but shy gal looking for a family to call her own.

Her two favorite activities?  Sitting on your lap to get a cheek scratch and snacking on tasty salads.

If you’d like to adopt a guinea pig like BooBoo from the ARL, make sure to bring a photo of the cage that your new pet will live in to make sure it’s a good size and shape for a guinea pig.

BooBoo

Adorable BooBoo strikes a pose during her photo shoot.

Just like any other pet, guinea pigs require special care and attention. Familiarizing yourself with their daily and long-term needs before adding one to your family is also an important step in the adoption process.

Learn more about guinea pigs

Guinea pigs can make great companions for both first-time or experienced pet owners, however they require a bit of patience and a gentle hand.

Once they are comfortable with you and their new surroundings, their personalities really shine through!

For more information on BooBoo or any of the other adoptable animals at our Boston shelter, you can speak with our shelter staff by calling (617) 226-5602.  Our shelters are open Tuesday through Sunday 1pm-6:30pm, excluding some holidays.

ADOPT A RESCUE GUINEA PIG MONTH FUN FACT Guinea pigs communicate through a variety of behaviors and sounds. These small animals will make a squealing or whistling sound, for example, to communicate anticipation or excitement–usually before they eat!  Meanwhile, a deep sounding purr indicates your guinea pig is comfortable and content.

 

 

Inside The Mind Of A Shelter Dog

The ARL’s Dot Baisly on working with shelter dogs

Ever wonder what goes on in a shelter dog’s mind? You know, aside from the usual, “When is it time to eat? When can I go outside to play? When is it time to eat….?”

Dot Baisly, the ARL’s new shelter enrichment and behavior manager, may not know exactly what shelter dogs are thinking at all times, but what she does know are the best methods to help them adapt to their new environment and get them ready to find a new home.

The ARL Blog sat down with Dot to learn more about how the ARL approaches shelter dog enrichment and giving potential adopters a profile of a dog’s behavior.

ARL Blog: What are some common behavioral issues that you come across related to shelter dogs and how do you work with them?

DB: The most frequent issue in shelter dogs is over-arousal and “jumpy mouthy” behavior. This issue is common for many reasons, such as lack of stimulation, the animal’s adolescent age, and a lack of proper training.

I like to treat the animal holistically by working to enrich their daily experience while teaching impulse control, and by finding ways to help the dog relax and find a quiet space at least three times a week.

Dot with rooster on her head

Dot Baisly faces every day at the ARL with a positive attitude–and with her party hat (a.k.a. ARL adoptable rooster Leonidas – come meet him at our Dedham shelter!)

ARL Blog: When the ARL does a “behavioral screening” for animals, what exactly does that mean?

DB: Our behavior evaluation process takes in all the information available to us for each animal. When possible, we start with a profile when an owner relinquishes a pet to us. If the animal comes in as a stray, we do everything that we can to gather as much information about an animal’s behavior.

We process all dogs through a systematic behavior evaluation in which the animal is screened for friendliness to humans, excitement levels, fear, aggression, and how well they know cues.

Finally, we gather and report all behavior observed in the shelter and compile this information to best match each individual dog with a new home.

ARL Blog: What is a typical enrichment plan that you give to a shelter dog?

DB: A typical enrichment plan should address the individual needs of each dog. For heavy chewers, for example, we feed them from a toy daily so that food acquisition is a mentally stimulating part of their day.

Basic obedience training is a part of every enrichment plan and quiet time outside of the kennel should happen regularly.

In many cases, we encourage play to learn impulse control and other aspects of interacting with humans.  This can be done with fetch, tug, and other games for the young adolescent dogs in need of physical exercise. When possible, I also include agility, appropriate social interactions with other dogs, and handling/massaging from humans.

 MORE ABOUT DOT – Dot first came to the ARL as an under-grad looking for a part-time job. She found she loved the work so much, she joined us full-time for several years before going back to school for her master’s degree. She operated her own dog training business, through which she continued to work with shelters.

Most recently, Dot worked at the SPCA of Westchester, New York, designing and implementing a volunteer-based dog walking and training program and fulfilling all behavior needs of that shelter.

 

 

Pet Me, I’m Irish!

Find your lucky charm at an ARL Shelter today

All the animals at ARL shelters in Boston, Brewster and Dedham are getting into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit!

If you’re looking for a pet-friendly St. Patrick’s Day activity, visit our adoptable pets at our shelters 1 pm – 6:30 pm and find your lucky charm today. (Green top hat not included.)

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When you adopt, you give an animal a chance at a better life.  All adoptable animals at the ARL also receive:

  • Spay or neuter services
  • Health screening and veterinary examination
  • Behavior screening and evaluations
  • Vaccinations and flea/tick/mite treatment
  • Microchip identification and registration
St. Patrick's Day cat

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from everyone at the Animal Rescue League! ARL adoptable Henry (pictured above) doing his best leprechaun impression.

Speaking of pet-friendly holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is most definitely a festive celebration of Irish culture, music, and the opportunity to dress up in bright green and shamrock prints. (Read: fun!) As with any holiday though, remember to take precautions with food and libations which may not be safe for pets to ingest.

If you plan to celebrate the holiday in a home where a pet resides, keep in mind three safety guidelines to ensure that everyone has a good time:

  1. Keep the leash.  If your dog is a genuinely friendly, relaxed, confident and calm dog with familiar and unfamiliar people, things and dogs, maybe he could be included in St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Still, it’s best to keep your dog leash. The smell of food, a large group of people, and other excited pets can easily overstimulate a dog, increasing the potential for poor behavior and bites.
  2. Watch the secret sippers.  Alcohol is poisonous to cats, dogs, and other animals and can lead to severe illness or death.  Do not leave alcoholic bottles, cans, etc. on the floor or in reach of a pet. Although the container may seem empty, even ingesting trace amounts can cause illness in animals.  If you suspect that a pet may have ingested alcohol, look for the following symptoms and seek emergency medical treatment: excessive drooling, retching, vomiting, stomach distension, elevated heart rate, weakness, low blood pressure, hypothermia, or coma.
  3. Beware the sneaky eaters.  We’ve all had it happen—turn your back for just a second and your pet starts to eat the food right off your plate!  Keep food and snacks out of paws reach because many party foods can be hazardous to cats and dogs.  Though you might be tempted to share your St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage with your furry friend, keep in mind corned beef contains a high amount of sodium, which isn’t good for cats or dogs.  Onions—a frequent ingredient in many corned beef and cabbage recipes—can also damage a cat’s red blood cells, restricting their capacity to carry oxygen effectively.

Wishing you and your pets a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day!

 

New shelter hours starting this week!

Starting tomorrow, new adoption center hours at all ARL shelters

valentines day pet dogPlanning a visit to an ARL shelter during February school vacation week?  Be sure to check out the new hours at our shelters in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham!

PLEASE NOTE: Our adoption centers are closed to the public today in honor of the President’s Day Holidays!

Beginning Tuesday, February 17, all shelters will be open 1 pm – 6:30 pm, Tuesday – Sunday, to allow for extended adoption hours.  Our shelters will accept adoption applications until 6 pm to allow us time to send home your new pet.

Our Boston shelter will begin extended weekend hours on February 27 – Boston adoption center hours ONLY will remain the same, 1 pm -4 pm, Friday, February 20 – Sunday, February 22.

When you adopt, you give an animal a chance at a better life.  All adoptable animals at the ARL also received:

  • Spay or neuter services
  • Health screening and veterinary examination
  • Behavior screening and evaluations
  • Vaccinations and flea/tick/mite treatment
  • Microchip identification and registration

Search adoptables now

Come find your pawsitively purr-fect match at an ARL shelter soon!

 

Valentine’s Day and Your Pet

Chocolate, flowers, and pets are not a purr-fect match!

Now that you’ve managed to dig your way out after the snow earlier this week, you can finally turn your attention to Valentine’s Day! [hint: it's this Saturday, February 14]

valentines day pet dog

Spread the love this Valentine’s Day and adopt! Looking for your purr-fect match? Consider adopting a pet from the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

Many of us purchase tokens of love for the special people  in our lives.  While these gifts may be good for our relationship with our Valentines, many of the  common items people give or get to celebrate the romantic holiday can pose pet health concerns.

Here are three things your pet definitely DOES NOT want for Valentine’s Day:

1. Chocolate and candies.  Chocolate, especially darker chocolates, are highly toxic to cats and dogs. Many candies and gums contain Xylitol. This sugarless sweetener is highly toxic to pets. Always keep chocolate and candies out of your pets reach.

2. Flowers.  Certain flowers and plants can be harmful or even deadly to cats and dogs. Flowers such as lilies are highly toxic if ingested by pets. Make sure to keep a special eye  on cats, their excellent climbing skills can give them easy access to flowers and plants.  And indoor cats especially are prone to nibble on greenery!

3. Decorations. Discarded ribbons and packaging can be toxic and even deadly to pets if they are ingested. Balloons also pose a big risk to our furry friends. If swallowed, balloons can cause chocking or blocked airways. Clean up after you’ve opened presents and make sure balloons are resting some where away from your pets.

Need a gift suggestion for your pet this Valentine’s Day? Give them what they really want, of course – extra love and attention, cheek scratches and tummy rubs!

SPREAD THE LOVE and make your valentine smile by helping animals in need!  Make a donation to the Animal Rescue League of Boston and select “I would like to make a tribute” at the bottom of the donation form.  Your loved one will receive a personalized card.

Or purchase a gift certificate from an ARL shelter in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham so your special someone can make the purr-fect match with an adoptable animal.

 

Puppy Transports: What You Need to Know

ARL’s Dr. Smith-Blackmore comments to CBS News

CBS News paid a visit to the Animal Rescue League of Boston to interview Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, the ARL’s vice president of animal welfare, about the rising trend of “puppy transports” – when animals are relocated from one community to another state or region for adoption.

Watch the CBS Evening News story

Often because of socioeconomic or cultural, animal control facilities and shelters in many regions of the country find themselves with far more stray or abandoned puppies and young dogs than they can find homes for locally.

Since the practice of puppy transports began, many veterinarians have expressed concern about the health, welfare, and safety of animals traveling on a transport, as well as the risks that transported dogs may pose to dogs in the receiving communities.  Veterinarians  want to ensure steps are taken to control the spread and transmission of disease.

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore offers her insights on the rising trend of puppy transports.

As the chair of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Animal Welfare Committee, Dr. Smith helped craft the AVMA’s policy on the relocation of animals for adoption.  Ahead of her interview with CBS News, we sat down with her to talk more about what people should know about puppy transports.

ARL Blog: What are the major concerns veterinarians have about puppy transports?

Dr. Smith: The biggest concern veterinarians have is for animal and public health – that animals with mostly unknown medical backgrounds and lacking much preventive care would spread large amounts of infectious disease from the place they were leaving to the place they were headed.  The health, welfare, and safety of animals during the transport–how they are treated and cared for during travel–is also something veterinarians care about very much.

They also care about their clients, who may end up heartbroken if the unwittingly adopt a sick puppy.

ARL Blog: If someone is considering adopting from a puppy transport, what do they need to know?

Dr. Smith: Learning more about the shelter or rescue group you’re adopting from to find out how the health and safety of animals and people are addressed before and during transport is very important!

One of the major goals of the AVMA policy was to provide organizations with guidance on doing transports safely and humanely.  The public can also use the AVMA policy as a point of reference for the standards of care they should expect from any group transporting animals for local adoption.

Download the AVMA’s Best Practices for the Relocation of Animals for Adoption

Find out if and how the organization that is bringing the puppies in for adoption is helping the community where they came from.  Are they giving back to the sending community to improve access to spay/neuter and other veterinary services?  Organizations involved in puppy transports run the gamut from responsible, welfare-oriented groups, to uncaring individuals motivated by financial profit.

puppy transport group shot

The ARL works with rescue partners to bring puppies from the South to our Brewster shelter several times a year. Our Boston shelter also receives occasional transports of chihuahuas from California.

ARL Blog: Has the increased interest in puppy transports had an impact on local animals who need homes ?

Dr. Smith: The AVMA policy encourages communities to assess their local animal population first to figure out if there’s a real shortage of adoptable animals.  Because of higher spay/neuter rates of dogs in New England, for example, there aren’t as many stray or abandoned puppies as there are in other parts of the country.

There are dogs in many communities in Massachusetts that need help getting to a shelter where they stand a better chance of getting adopted.  To address this issue, the ARL collaborates with the Massachusetts Animal Coalition’s AniMatch program.

The idea is for organizations to pursue their passion for helping animals find homes in a healthy, safe, and responsible way for all animals, people, and communities.