April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Awareness Month
In support of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month this April, the ARL is kicking off its Spring “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” campaign.
Animal cruelty comes in many forms, including physical abuse, neglect of basic care, abandonment, dog fighting, and animal hoarding. Because many studies have demonstrated a strong link between cruelty to animals and other forms of domestic and community violence, prevention plays a critical role in improving the safety and welfare of both animals and people in Massachusetts.
In 2014, the ARL’s Center for Animal Protection assisted in over 300 animal law enforcement cases. Unfortunately, this is a small number when you consider the startling statistic that 4 out of 5 animal cruelty cases go unreported.
We all have a role to play in prevention. Be aware and get to know the animals in your neighborhood. If you suspect animal cruelty, call your local authorities right away. Help raise awareness and educate others about this issue.
Learn the 7 most common warning signs of animal cruelty and take action!
While most of us recognize that punching, kicking, burning, choking, or hitting an animal with an object are acts of animal cruelty, there are also several more subtle warning signs of animal cruelty to watch for that could indicate mistreatment, neglect, or abuse:
Howling or barking for a sustained period of time or hearing an animal cry in pain with higher pitched, more persistent vocal sounds than usual.
Singed, matted, chronically or excessively dirty hair or fur.
Wounds, unusual scars, hair loss, frequent limping often on different legs, or signs of improper nutrition such as weight loss or prominent visible ribs.
Animals kept caged or tied with little room to move for long periods of time or without regular interaction with people
Lack of protection from the weather or fece- or debris-strewn living areas for animals.
Collars, leashes, or halters so tight they visibly dig into the animal’s face or neck.
A large number of animals coming or going from a property.
If you know of or suspect animal cruelty, report concerns to your local authorities. Learn more about how you can prevent animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action
Report suspicions of animal cruelty. If you see something, say something.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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!
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 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 Feeney share a hug at the end of the oath process.
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!
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.
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]
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.
Earlier this morning, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s rescue services team successfully captured the goat who had been wandering in the greater Lowell area since December.
Lowell the goat, as the ARL’s rescue services team has taken to calling him, has been wandering in the greater Lowell area since before Christmas.
After the two-horned, shaggy rambler was spotted moving through the snow close to 495 yesterday, the ARL’s rescue team set a humane trap in the hopes of bringing him in to shelter ahead of the snowstorm.
The Lowell goat originally was spotted several weeks ago in Tewksbury, and also made cameo appearances in Chelmsford and Westford. Because he didn’t seem to visit the same place in any predictable pattern, he proved more challenging to rescue.
Next stop for Lowell the goat, as our rescue team has taken to calling him, is the ARL’s Dedham shelter. Lowell will join other livestock in the barn where he will spend the next several days getting proper food and water, and safely resting in a fresh bed of straw.
Thank you to Massachusetts State Police, Westford Animal Control, and all of Lowell’s loyal followers on social media for your support for the ARL’s rescue efforts!
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.
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 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.
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.