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


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.



Phoenix is Home for the Holidays

Sweet Girl will ring in 2014 with her new family!

phoenix at home

Phoenix at home with the feline and canine members of her new family.

Just before Christmas, we shared the story of Phoenix, a beautiful, sweet softie of a dog who came to our Dedham adoption center in July.  She was a total staff favorite – she was always so happy and full of playful energy.

Since arriving at the adoption center, Phoenix had waited patiently for a family.  We all wanted her to find a home for the holidays, so feel especially excited to share the news that after more than 160 days of waiting, she has!

After seeing Phoenix’s video, a very nice family from Weymouth adopted her.  She will ring in 2014 with her new people and their other pets, a cat and a one-year-old mastiff mix named Dozer.

A very special thank you to everyone who helped Phoenix find her new home and of course to her new family for welcoming her into their hearts!



Here’s Who Went Home at the Boston Adoptathon!

Many Fabulous Adoptions During the Adoptathon

Thank you to all of the sponsors, volunteers and staff who made Saturday’s Adoptathon possible and a huge thank you to the adopters who made the event a success. Take a look at a few photos of the animals who were adopted from our Boston shelter on Saturday! Stay tuned for more highlights from the event!



An Adopter’s Animal Shelter Tradition

Shorty Collins Hill the First and His Story

08-27 Shorty2Every year on Shorty’s birthday, Cecilia likes to make a visit to the League to look at all of the little  kittens. She hopes that all of them will be just as lucky as her cat and will find loving homes of their own. When we recently learned of how Shorty came into Cecilia’s life and we knew that we simply had to share their story with our online community. Here’s what Cecilia had to say about Shorty:

“Shorty Collins Hill 1st was born on July 27, 2006. Shorty’s shelter name was Prince and he came from a litter of eight. There are a couple of things that are very different about Shorty, that not too many people know about. Shorty was returned to the League at three months old. The day that I saw him at the shelter I knew he was the kitten for me, however, someone was already interested in him. The person adopted him and his sister, but brought him back because they decided that they didn’t want him maybe because of his bob-tail, and the fact that his back legs were bow-legged.  My family got a call from one of the shelter agents who said that “the cat that we looked at was returned, and if we still wanted to adopt him, to come on over.”  So we did, but once we arrived, a little boy and his mother were already looking at the kitten. My heart was on the floor, I wanted that kitten so bad that I was about too cry.

08-27 ShortyI waited to see if the little boy and his mother were going to adopt the kitten, and thankfully for me, the lady told her son that maybe later they would get a kitten, but not right now. Once I heard that the kitten was available again, I was very happy, I said to one of the shelter agents, I am here and this little one is going home with me!

I took the little kitten and sat down with him in the meeting room, and we looked at each other like a mother looking at her child for the first time. He licked my nose and when I sat him in my lap, he crawled into my jacket pocket. Once we processed the paper work and he was officially ours, I asked my daughter what she wanted to name him? She said “Collins” mommy, we’ll name him after one of the men from the TV Show “Fab-Five.” Shorty became his first name, and we gave him my daughters last name, “Hill.” So, he become Shorty Collins Hill 1st.  (The reason why we said the 1st is because he’s neutered, and that means no babies from him, sorry!)

Shorty turned seven this year and he has grown up to be a very big cat, in good shape, and every time it’s his birthday I like to take a visit to the A.R.L.” -  Cecilia

If you’re thinking about adding a new cat to your family, please adopt from the League. We have many kittens and adult cats waiting for loving homes. If you adopt on or before August 31, you’ll be helping us reach our goal of finding homes for 1200 cats and dogs by August 31.


It’s All About the Goats!

Pepper and Pops, two wonderful Alpine/Nubian cross goats.

Since our Rescue Team saved a loose goat just yesterday, we thought we’d highlight two goats that have been waiting for a home at our Dedham location.

Pepper and Pops were picked up as strays running around New Hampshire and were brought to the MSPCA.  From there, they made their way to us here at the League’s Dedham location.  Oftentimes we work together with the MSPCA to help with placement of various Livestock Animals.

Not much is known about their history, though we estimate their ages to be about 6 years old.  They are an incredibly bonded pair (we don’t know what Pepper would do without Pops!) so we would love to see them go home together.

08-15 GoatBoth goats would do a lovely job of clearing any brush in your yard or pasture.  They like the brush as opposed to grass, so would also do well as companion animals to other livestock animals who prefer grass.  They will both come up to you in the pasture for grain and treats.

Pops tends to be the friendlier of the two and doesn’t mind a good scratching.

Pepper is a little more reserved.  They both have horns, but have never shown any aggression towards people who work around them.

We feel they would do best in a home with other horned goats or similar sizes.  They are currently up to date on all vaccines.

If you are interested in learning more about this amazing pair, please call the shelter at 781-326-0729 or e-mail at aarseneau@arlboston.orgPlease note that for any livestock adoption, we require photo’s of your fencing and shelter in advance to ensure it is adequate to house goats.  You will also want to check with your town’s office in regards to permitting and zoning laws regarding livestock animals.


Donating to the League is Fun & Easy

There are Many Ways to Give

People have often asked how they can help shelter animals or what they can do to raise money for the League. There are a variety of ways to help. For example, a few weeks ago a group of people at Blue Cross Blue Shield held a month-long drive for our shelter animals. They collected towels, blankets, toys, treats and even raised some money for the League. These items are all much needed and much appreciated. We have so many animals coming to our shelter that these supplies go quick. Thank you so much for your donation!

08-06 ARL Jeans DayCambridge Savings Bank held a Jeans Day drive for us last Friday. If employees donated $3.00 to the League they could wear jeans on Friday. Thanks for your continuing support CSB!

Nevin1A common way for kids to give to the League is donating their birthday money or asking for pet supplies instead of gifts, which they then donate to the League. Little Nevin did a door-to-to door drive last year and donated supplies, toys and funds to the League. He even drew this adorable sign for the animals. Thanks, Nevin!

These are just a few ways that you can give to the League. If you’re thinking of ways to help animals visit the “Ways to Give” section of our website for some inspiration.

Day 2 of Helping Save 1200 Animals in 12 Weeks

Tookie was the first adoption at our Boston shelter. He was also featured on our website on Tuesday!

Tookie was the first adoption at our Boston shelter. He was also featured on our website on Tuesday!

We are excited to share that we adopted out 31 animals yesterday for our ASPCA Rachael Ray Challenge Kick-Off! Let’s see if we can beat that number today! We need YOUR help to find homes for 1200 animals in 12 weeks!

Our Adoption centers are opening early again today. The Brewster shelter opens at 10a.m. and Boston and Dedham open at 11a.m. Get there early and adopt!

Sir Gunther from our Brewster shelter, was the first adoption of the Challenge!

Sir Gunther from our Brewster shelter, was the first adoption of the Challenge!

See extended adoption hours for all of our shelters below.

• Boston: Sun., 6/2 from 11:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. AND Mon, 6/3 from 1:00 to 4:00p.m.

• Dedham: Sun., 6/2 from 11:00a.m. to 7:30p.m.

• Brewster: Sun., 6/2 from 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.

Our Boston shelter is giving away beautiful hand-made quilts (while supplies last), donated by the amazing students and instructors from the Brandeis theatre department with each cat adoption. Your kitties will already have a bed when they go home with you!

Adopt new pets at one of our shelters June 1-August 31 to save lives and support the League’s participation in the 2013 ASPCA Rachel Ray Challenge! Our goal is “1,200 in 12 weeks,” and we need you to help make it happen!

1 Week Countdown to 1200 in 12 Weeks!


We can’t believe that the ASPCA Rachael Ray 100k Challenge Kick-off weekend is only one week away!

To kick-off the ASPCA Rachael Ray Challenge, we’re extending adoption hours at all three of our locations! Please join us on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 to adopt your new furry friend! See extended adoption hours for all three of our shelters below. Remember we need YOUR help to find homes for 1200 animals in 12 weeks!

• Boston: Sat., 6/1 & Sun., 6/2 from 11:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. AND Mon, 6/3 from 1:00 to 4:00p.m.

• Dedham: Sat., 6/1 & Sun., 6/2 from 11:00a.m. to 7:30p.m.

• Brewster: Sat., 6/1 and Sun., 6/2 from 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.

Our Boston shelter will be giving away beautiful hand-made quilts (*while supplies last), donated by some amazing students and instructors from the Brandeis theatre department with each cat adoption. That way our kitties already have a bed when they go home with you!

Angel models on one of the quilts we'll be giving away with *each adopted cat!

Angel models on one of the quilts we’ll be giving away with *each adopted cat!

Girl Who Donated Piggy Bank Makes Gift Basket For Oliver

Reilly holds a shelter rabbit surrounded by her donations.

Reilly holds a shelter rabbit surrounded by her donations.

Nine year-old Reilly from Leominster, the girl who donated her entire piggy bank savings to our shelter animals back in January, has been busy thinking of new ways to help our shelter animals.

Yesterday, she stopped by with her mom to donate a gift basket for Oliver as well as items from a toy drive that she recently organized. Since her initial piggy bank donation Reilly has raised over $500 for needy animals and collected countless toys to help engage the animals while they’re at the shelter waiting for a home.

THANK YOU, REILLY! Keep up the amazing work. We hope to see you again soon!