Do You Have Feral Cats In Your Neighborhood?

Help keep them safe by building a simple DIY cat shelter in your yard

A “feral” cat is defined as a cat that has had little or no human contact since birth. Many were initially former domestic cats that were either lost or abandoned. In many cases, these cats still depend on human caregivers for food and shelter.

Learn more about feral cats

Some feral cat colonies find shelter for themselves under sheds and uninhabited buildings. Living in these structures poses a risk for these cats because their safety is usually uncertain.

To help keep the feral cats in your neighborhood safe from the elements and potential predators, consider building your own shelter. DIY shelters are inexpensive and simple to build. Please keep in mind, there are many ways to build feral cat shelters.

Watch this video to learn how to build your own feral cat shelter:

Did you know…

That the ARL contributes to helping control the feral cat population in the Boston area? The ARL offers FREE spay and neuter TNR (trap, neuter, and release) clinics each year to feral cat caretakers in Boston.

During the clinics, cats receive a behavioral screening to identify “friendlies,” stray animals who could re-adjust to living with people as pets.  In addition to spay/neuter services, cats also receive vaccines and other veterinary services.

Learn more about the ARL’s TNR clinics by visiting www.arlboston.org/fix-a-feral/

 

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.)

Search adoptables

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!

 

ARL Joins City of Boston Animal Control Commission

Maryann Regan to serve on important animal welfare group

Late last week, Maryann Regan, the ARL’s director of shelter operations, received a letter announcing her appointment by the Mayor to the City of Boston’s Animal Control Commission. The Mayor convened the commission to ensure continued forward progress on animal care and control in the City.

After bringing concerning conditions at the Boston Animal Control facility in Roslindale to the attention of Mayor Walsh this summer, the ARL has continued to support the City’s reform efforts.

Maryann Regan signing

Maryann Regan signing after taking the Oath of Office

Yesterday, we followed Maryann to Boston City Hall where she completed the swearing in process. We’re happy to announce Maryann along with eight others are now officially members of the Animal Control Commission!

Members of the Animal Control Commission will meet at least once a month to coordinate the work of public and private agencies concerned with animal care, protection, and control. They will also establish and maintain a spay and neuter clinic within the city. For more information on the Animal Control Commission please visit cityofboston.gov/boardsandcommissions

A special thank you to City Clerk Maureen Feeney and everyone at the Boston City Hall for graciously welcoming the ARL!

Maryann Regan and Maureen Feeny

Maryann Regan and Maureen Feeney share a hug at the end of the oath process.

 

 

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!

 

Winter Weather Closing Info

Staff providing care as the snow flies today

Once again, due to the snow storm, our adoption centers in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham will be closed today.  Shelter and facilities maintenance staff, however, stayed at our shelters last night to make sure the animals remain safe, warm, and in good spirits during yet another major snow event!

winter shelter ferl cats

The ASPCA says an elevated foam bin filled with straw provides warm shelter for feral cats.

Our rescue and law enforcement teams will also stay off the roads today for safety.

With all this snow, we have received an increasing number of calls from concerned citizens with questions about feral cats.  Our rescue team suggests trying to coax a feral cat indoors to a garage or basement if possible for shelter during snowstorms.

If that’s not possible, the ASPCA has put together a  “how to” guide for making an inexpensive cat shelter.  You can line the inside with straw and use cinder blocks or boards to get the cat shelter off the ground.

For more winter weather pet safety tips, visit arlboston.org/winter-pet-health.

 

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.

 

Winter Weather Schedule Updates

Check here for weather-related closures and delays at the ARL

winter closure

ARL adoptable dog MILO may be the only Bostonian left who still loves the snow! He’s pictured above after a snowy pleasure roll.

Planning a trip to one of the ARL’s shelters or programs today?  Please check the schedule below for information about closures and delayed openings.

SHELTERS

Boston – Our adoption center is closed to the public on Tuesday, February 10, so staff can focus on animal care.

Dedham – Our adoption center is closer to the public on Tuesday, February 10, so staff can focus on animal care.

Brewster – Open as scheduled, 10 am – 4 pm.

BOSTON VETERINARY CARE

Delayed opening – BVC will open at 12 pm today to allow staff additional travel time.

SPAY WAGGIN’

Closed – please contact the Spay Waggin’s scheduling office at for rescheduling information, at (877) 590-7729 or spaywaggin@arlboston.org

SPECIAL THANKS to our shelter and facilities management staff for working through the storm to care for the animals!

For helpful winter weather pet health and safety information, please visit arlboston.org/winter-pet-health

 

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.

 

 

 

Donate to animals today!

Make it a happy new year for animals in our community

donate to animals like Rugby

Rugby came to the ARL with a severe deformity in his front legs. With help from shelter veterinarians and staff, he learned to walk and today can run, jump, and play like every puppy should.

Your donation to the Animal Rescue League of Boston today will help thousands of animals like Sadie, the 8-year-old adoptable pup in the photo above, get a chance at a better life in 2015!

We rely entirely on the generosity of our supporters to help thousands of animals every year….

….Animals like Rugby and Madeline who recovered from neglect and found happy homes in 2014.

….Like Wally and Piper who got the medical assistance they needed after sustaining serious injuries.

donate to animals like piper

Piper was found all alone with a broken leg. The ARL paid for the $3,000 surgery to repair the serious fracture in her thigh. She continues her recovery with an ARL foster volunteer.

….Like the wide variety of domestic animals and wildlife our rescue services team and law enforcement officers save and protect.

….Like the animals in the City of Boston who will be cared for by a reforming Boston Animal Care and Control department.

….Like the cats and dogs who receive high-quality, affordable spay/neuter and other veterinary services from our Spay Waggin’.

You make all of this work possible!

Here are a few ways your donations to the Animal Rescue League of Boston help animals in need:

  • $25   Can help feed a shelter dog for a week
  • $35   Can provide nutrient-rich formula and feeding supplies for a litter of kittens
  • $50   Can help cover spay/neuter surgery for a feral cat or adoptable animal
  • $250 Can provide training for an unruly puppy so he can become a lovable family pet
  • $500 Can help a stray dog or cat receive emergency surgery after a serious injury

Only with your support can we provide high-quality, compassionate care for animals when they need it most.

Donate to animals now

Thank you for your kindness and compassion for animals in need.  And happy New Year from everyone at the ARL!