If you see signs of blood sports, you say something – how you can help animals
As part of our “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” public awareness campaign this month, we are focusing on the topic of “blood sports.”
A dog who is a victim of the illegal blood sports known as “dog fighting” and “street fighting” suffers just as much on the inside as he does on the outside.
We sat down with Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, the ARL’s vice president of animal welfare, to learn more about the effects of blood sports on the animals involved.
Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare, hosted a talk in January on dog fighting by the ASPCA’s Terry Mills in conjunction with the New England Federation of Humane Societies
ARL Blog: What are some common physically identifying signs of a fighting dog?
Dr. Smith: Fighting dogs end up bearing many scars, usually clustered around the face, neck, front legs and chest. Dogs can also suffer much more severe injuries such as broken bones and disfigurement of their ears, snouts, etc.
The scars that are visible on the outside of a fighting dog are only the tip of the iceberg in what the dog has suffered.
ARL Blog: What generally happens to the “winner” – or worse yet – the “loser” in a dog fight?
Dr S: Dogs who “win” will fight again and again, earning higher stakes with each victory.
Dogs who “lose” have a much sadder fate. They have been discovered on the side of the road, floating in the harbor, and in the garbage. They can die shortly after the fight from trauma, but more commonly they die from a lack of appropriate veterinary attention to their wounds.
Ultimately, all dogs become the “loser” and thus find themselves abused multiple times: by inhumane housing and emotional neglect, by the fights themselves, by the life threatening infections they develop, and by the cruel deaths they suffer at the hands of their owners.
ARL Blog: What are some other “blood sports” that people should be aware of and what are the physical effects on the animals involved?
Dr S: Cockfighting (two roosters) and finch fighting (perching birds) are common in Massachusetts.
During Cockfighting between two gamecocks, owners will inject a toxic form of pesticide to increase their endurance and often attach knives to the bird’s legs. Every fight ends in serious injury or death, often for both of the birds involved.
Finch fighting between two male and one female bird has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. During finch fighting the owner will attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure maximum injury to the female finch which ultimately results in their demise.
The ARL provides tips on when and how to rescue a baby bird on the ground
Spring has sprung. The sun is shining. Flowers are blooming. And baby birds are learning to fly.
This time of year, The ARL receives phone calls from concerned citizens who come across baby birds on the ground. Although this sight may seem alarming, remember that part of the process of learning to fly comes with being on the ground. It’s typically best to keep a safe distance and not to intervene unless you’re sure the bird is orphaned or is in immediate danger.
To decide whether or not to step in the next time you spot a baby bird on the ground, follow this helpful flow chart:
If the flow chart points you toward intervention, follow these 11 steps to ensure a safe rescue:
How to rescue a baby bird*†:
Grab clean container with a lid and line the bottom with a soft cloth. Poke air holes if there are none.
Wear gloves to protect yourself from the bird’s beak, talons, wings, and any potential parasites.
Cover the bird with a light sheet or towel.
Gently pick up the bird and place it in the prepared container.
Warm the bird if it’s chilled by placing one end of the container on top of a heating pad (low setting) or in a shallow dish of warm water. You can also wrap the container with the warm cloth.
Tape the container closed.
Note exactly where you found the bird. This will be very important for release.
Keep the bird in a warm dark quiet place away from children and animals. Do not give it food or water.
Wash your hands and any clothing and objects that were in contact with the bird to avoid spreading any potential parasites.
Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency, or wildlife veterinarian.
Get the bird to the wildlife expert as soon as possible. It is against the law in most states to keep wild animals in your home if you do not have a permit, even if you plan to release them.
To find a wildlife expert in your area, contact the New England Wildlife Center.
*Only adults should rescue baby birds. Before rescuing an adult bird, seek guidance from a wildlife expert.
†Source: Healers of the Wild: People Who Care For Injured and Orphaned Wildlife, By Shannon K. Jacobs
The ASPCA designated April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting. As part of our continuing “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” campaign, we encourage animal-lovers to take action against all blood sports, an extremely brutal form of cruelty.
What are “blood sports”? Blood sports are defined as an illegal sport or contest involving the bloodshed of animals for the purpose of gambling or entertainment, and include:
Dog fighting is a brutal sport or contest in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit/ring to fight one another for the purposes of entertainment and gambling. The fight ends when one dog can’t continue due to exhaustion, injury, or death. Each year in the US, an estimated 140,000 people and 250,000 dogs are involved in dog fighting despite the fact that it is prosecuted as a felony crime in all 50 states.
Street fighting is an impromptu altercation between two dogs instigated by their respective owners or gangs in either a private location or common public gathering area, such as school yards, parks, or abandoned buildings. In some cases, the owner encourages their dog to attack a stray.
Cockfighting is a sport in which two gamecocks (roosters), specifically bred for aggressiveness, are placed in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. Owners often will inject doses of stimulant drugs, hormones, or vitamins to increase endurance and attach knives to the gamecocks’ legs.
Finch fighting is a sport between two male and one female perched birds that has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. Owners typically attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure the female finch’s demise.
Our Law Enforcement team works with animal control officers to identify signs of blood sports. Here are 3 common warning signs:
Whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban neighborhood, animal “blood sports” happens in all types of areas across the country, including Massachusetts. The ARL’s Law Enforcement team, for example, continues to assist the Bridgewater, MA police department in an investigation involving two dogs who had sustained injuries consistent with involvement in blood sports.
Blood sports are a major concern for public safety as it’s often linked with gang activity and other serious crimes such as human assault, homicide, drug possession/distribution, and illegal gambling.
Based on the ARL Law Enforcement team’s experience, building an effective legal case against this type of crime is complicated, due to the multitude of individuals, groups, and gangs that can be involved. Fighting animals – especially dogs – are bred in Massachusetts and transported to other states to fight, making it very difficult to track the activity.
How can communities prevent blood sports from happening?
Animal control officers and humane investigators focus on breaking up an animal fighting enterprise and immediately remove animals from the situation.
You can help raise awareness and encourage intervention; both are critical to preventing this type of crime before it occurs!
We ALL have a role to play in prevention. Report suspicions of animal cruelty. If you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.
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.
Big and Lovable Lovable Dog thriving after surgery
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On 28th September every year, the world unites in the fight against rabies.
World Rabies Day is a day of activism and awareness. It’s an opportunity to for you to join the global movement to put an end to suffering rabies causes by organizing or taking part in a World Rabies Day event.
Rabies is a viral disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. The virus attacks the central nervous system and can be secreted in saliva. Infected animals show no fear of humans, drool and act in an agitated fashion.
In Massachusetts, outdoor cats are the “bridge” species, who are most likely to encounter a rabid animal, become exposed to rabies and bring it home. The most common rabid animal is the bat, and bats can come into your home. For this reason, all dogs, cats and ferrets, whether indoor only or not, are mandated by law to be vaccinated against rabies.
Every dog, cat and ferret adopted from the Animal Rescue League of Boston is vaccinated against rabies. Every dog or cat that we spay or neuter on the Spay Waggin’ or at our Fix A Feral clinics is vaccinated against rabies. We offer rabies clinics in the spring in Boston, Dedham and Brewster to help provide easy access to rabies vaccination. We are doing our part to help prevent the spread of rabies in Massachusetts. Please do your part and make sure your pets are vaccinated!
If your cat is not vaccinated against rabies, make an appointment for a vet exam at Boston Spay/Neuter Day for Cats on Thursday, October 2. For just $10 an Animal Rescue League of Boston veterinarian will be on-site to see your cat and your cat can receive a vet exam, vaccinations (including rabies vaccine), flea treatment and a microchip. Boston Spay/Neuter Day is sponsored by the Massachusetts Animal Coalition License Plate Fund.
Here at the Animal Rescue League our staff have all sorts of pets and among them is a deaf dog named Tippy. What better time to share her story with you than during Deaf Pet Awareness Week? Read on to learn about Tippy.
A little over 8 years ago, Maryann Regan, director of shelter operations at the ARL, was managing the animal intake office of our Boston adoption center when a local animal control officer brought in an extremely wiggly and happy white dog.
The officer explained that the municipal shelter had no room and wanted to know if we had kennel space to house this stray dog. “Almost the moment the officer handed the leash over to me,” says Maryann, “this dog was tugging at my heart strings. She immediately began to give me kisses and her wiggles were out of control- she seemed like a very happy, sweet girl!”
Maryann found herself spending extra time with her, –going for long walks, giving her extra play time in the play yard, and sharing a few extra treats. Something told her that this dog was meant for her family.
“I introduced her to my husband and it was love at first site. We decided, after her medical exam and behavior evaluation, we would adopt her as long as she and the other family members got along. The other family members are two senior cats that also have a very special place in our hearts.”
During her behavior evaluation, the wiggly white dog performed true to form–high energy, playful, happy, and sweet!
As affectionate and people-oriented as she behaved, however, she also tended to ignore us when we called for her.
Maryann explains: “It wasn’t consistent with what she was typically displaying in her personality because she was usually very concerned or interested in being near every person she met. She loved people! Then, why was she ignoring us?”
The pre-adoption medical evaluation identified the issue: this dog was deaf.
“It’s not uncommon for white animals to be deaf. This dog was all white, with the exception of a few, adorable black dots here and there bounced around on her body,” says Maryann. “All the times we called for her attention that she did not respond to was not her ignoring us, she simply couldn’t hear us.”
Neither Maryann or her husband had experience with a deaf dog, but Maryann felt confident that they could educate themselves on how to handle her appropriately. “I had such a strong bond with this dog, I had no reservations about doing all the homework necessary to make this a successful adoption for us, the cats and for her.”
So, if you’re considering adding a pet to your family, don’t overlook deaf pets in your search.