A Little To the Left, Please

This is Baby Boy’s lucky day. Or perhaps “spa day” is a better way to put it. “I’m starting to mix in some long sweeping strokes, with deeper pressure. I’m also palpating to see if there are knots in his tissue.”

Julie Polvinen is an animal massage therapist who’s donated some of her time to our Boston shelter. On this day, she’s working with Baby Boy, a 7-year-old cat. And, as usual, she’s taking cues from the client. “When they expose more areas of themselves to me, then I know that I’m OK to approach working on them. Sometimes they’ll tuck paws in that they don’t want touched or lay on the sides of the body they don’t want worked on.”  But Baby Boy seems up for anything. “He’s giving me his head. So I’ll work muscles on his scalp and the sides of face.” The look on Baby Boy’s face right now is basic bliss.

Regardless of how wonderful the care, shelter life can be stressful on animals. That’s where massage therapy comes in. “When an animal is relaxed physically, they can relax mentally. So for me it’s about helping them be better adjusted so they can find their forever homes quicker.”

Polvinen recalls working with Romeo, a frightened Chihuahua who showed little interest in play or food. But massage was a different story. “If I stopped massaging him he’d nudge and kiss me.” After four sessions, Polvinen says Romeo’s slight limp had improved; he was affectionate and wanted to play with toys. “And I think he showed better to the public.” Indeed, shortly after her last session with him, Romeo was adopted.

As for Baby Boy, his purring tells Polvinen she’s hit the spot. “Every time I touch him, I’m giving deeper and deeper touch.” And Polvinen’s reward for all this? A few well-placed kisses on her hand.

Photos by volunteer Christine Barton.

World Spay Day: The Celebration Continues

We would like to thank the Boston City Council and Councilor Felix Arroyo for recognizing the League’s and MSPCA’s efforts to reduce pet overpopulation with their “Resolution in Support of World Spay Day” at yesterday’s council meeting. Dr. Martha Smith, director of Veterinary Medical Services at the League, accepted the honor. The following are the  remarks she made during the ceremony.

“City Council President Murphy, Councilor Arroyo and members of the Boston City Council, on behalf of the Animal Rescue League of Boston I would like to thank you for this resolution in recognition of World Spay Day.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston was founded in 1899 by Dorchester native Anna Harris Smith.  We work every day to embody the sentiment of our founder, who said that ‘Kindness uplifts the world.’ We do that, in part, by providing accessible and free or affordable spay/neuter services to animals in Boston.  It is an act of kindness not only for the animals themselves, but also for their human companions, and for our community as a whole.

 By spaying and neutering animals in Boston, we reduce stray and nuisance animals.  Nuisance animals contribute to the deterioration of neighborhoods, and impact the quality of life for all residents.  Owned and well cared-for pets, on the other hand, benefit us – owners and neighbors alike – immeasurably.  Science has shown that they reduce our blood pressure, serve as social bridges, lower our cholesterol even, and so much more.

What we at the League have learned from our outreach is that overwhelmingly, pet owners want to take care of their pets.  Regardless of neighborhood, culture, finances or education, when we offer our veterinary services to Boston residents, we are welcomed with open arms.  The people we meet are eager to learn how to better care for their pets.

In other words, they want to do the right thing.  And we want to help them do that.  Oftentimes, the only barrier to seeking veterinary care for pets is a matter of access.  So we empower pet owners by providing services that are affordable, easily understood, presented without judgment, and in locations that can be reached without a car. 

There is no need to mandate responsible pet care—to paraphrase the words of the movie ‘Field of Dreams’: make it affordable and accessible, and they will come. Pets, owners and communities reap the benefits.

The recognition of this connectivity of human and animal health is the embodiment of a movement called ‘One Health Initiative.’ One Health is a worldwide strategy for expanding collaborations in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. We are all on this planet together and taking care of one helps take care of all.

Together, by spaying and neutering the animals of Boston, we are striving to build a better world!  Because of this, we at the Animal Rescue League of Boston wish to thank the Boston City Council for recognizing the importance of World Spay Day.”

Happy World Spay Day!

Today, February 28th, is World Spay Day!

Spaying or neutering your pet can make a big difference toward advancing the wellbeing of animals. There are thousands of homeless animals roaming the streets each year and, by spaying or neutering yours, you can help the stray population decrease.

Your pet will also experience major health benefits, as well as the prospect of a longer life. Behavior in your pet can also change, especially in males.  An intact male will try the best he can to find a mate, making him especially prone to escape. If your pet gets out, he runs the risk of being injured. Neutered males will also direct more of their attention to their human companions, which can mean more time spent curled in your lap. They will also be less likely to mark territory in your home.

Overall, spaying or neutering your pet will benefit both you and the community. Our Spay Waggin’ (pictured above) is in Hyannis today celebrating in style. Click here to see their March schedule and find information about making an appointment.

Help Lend a Paw

This spring, Rebecca Willson will be running the Boston Marathon and the money she is raising will benefit the League. A local business woman, Rebecca, owns The Urban Hound, a dog daycare and hotel.

Customer Appreciation Night at Polka Dog Bakery
Thursday, March 15th  4-8pm
256 Shawmut Avenue Boston, MA 02118
Stop by Polka Dog and shop around! Beer, wine and snacks will be served and 20% of all sales will go towards Rebecca’s goal of raising $5,000 for the League.

Rebecca is also selling tee shirts at $25 each, all proceeds will go towards the League. If you cannot attend the event, you can still support Rebecca by clicking here.

Playing For Pups a Success!

On February 18th, Social Boston Sports and North Star Boston teamed up to host a Cornhole tournament to benefit the League. With drinks and games, everyone had a wonderful time and raised money while they were at it.

Organized by Boston Shelter Agent Jackie Kelly, the event was an overwhelming success, raising $1,700. We and our furry friends would like to thank everyone who came out and played like a dog!

Center for Shelter Dogs Launches Webinar Center

The Center for Shelter Dogs has launched a free Webinar Center for shelters, human organizations, rescue groups, and animal care professionals. The Webinar Center offers free monthly webinars focused on improving the welfare of homeless dogs cared for by humane organizations, animal control facilities,and rescue groups throughout the nation.

March webinar topics include Saving Lives With Behavior Programs and an Introduction to Match-Up II Online!

Visit the Webinar Center today!

Help Feed the Homeless Cats of Boston

Feel like lending a paw? The Animal Rescue League of Boston and Boston Homeless Cats Group have the perfect solution for you.

The feral cat communities of Boston are in need of some full bellies. If you have any extra, unopened cat food you don’t know what to do with or just feel like helping out, our feline friends would greatly appreciate your kindness.You can get a great deal at BJ’s Wholesale and gift cards are also welcome.

Even the smallest members of our community need a little help, so stop by the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s South End branch to drop off any cat food items you may have and lend a paw.

WHAT: Cat Food Bank Day
WHEN: Monday, March 12, 2012, 8:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M.
WHERE: 10 Chandler Street, Boston, MA 02116

Turbo Charging ‘Pit Bull’ Adoptions

Yesterday, the Animal Farm Foundation generously volunteered their time to educate the League on how to vastly increase pit bull adoption numbers. Kim Wolf and Stacey Coleman stopped by to educate us on how to do so with their “Turbo Charging ‘Pit Bull’ Adoptions” presentation.

Through innovative and accurate marketing, all-inclusive adoption programs, and information for both our adopters and staff, Kim and Stacey explained how these ideas can be used to get the dogs home faster. Although the presentation focused on “pit bull” dogs, all of the information and techniques can be used to help every animal in the League’s care. The ideas described by Kim and Stacey can also be implemented at low- or no-cost.

The presentation was a rousing success and we would like to thank Kim and Stacey for coming. We hope to not only “turbo charge” our pit bull adoptions, but all of our adoptions in general.

Making the Rounds: Helping People and Pets

9:45 AM
Helping People and Pets

The League also provides a special “cat wellness clinic” providing an exam, vaccines and a nail trim. “We specifically chose this community because we tracked a higher number of calls for stray and injured cats there,” says event organizer Maryann Regan. “Pet owners needed access to convenient, affordable care.” Right: Dr. Martha Smith performs an exam aboard the League’s mobile exam vehicle.