The story of a dog rescued from a tenant farm and given a second chance
You might remember Bear…a three-year-old Mastiff-mix who became the first animal adopted after Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) officials responded to the Westport Farm incident last July which resulted in more than 1,400 animals being rescued.
The case has since become the greatest example of animal cruelty in New England history. Bear is much more than a survivor—He is a thriver.
When he arrived at the ARL, Bear suffered from anxiety and poor socialization. As I write these words, I can’t help but think…’Well…obviously. Anyone would.’ He was shaken, and rightfully so. After weeks with ARL staff, he regained his confidence and found a new home with Angela and Adam. That’s the part of the story you might know already. But Bear’s life and the impact he has made on his new family is truly inspiring.
“Bear has brought love and a new sense of purpose for me,” said Adam. “I want to help him lead the best life he could possibly lead. He’s a dog, he is a completely good creature, so of course I would do anything for him.”
After Bear’s past suffering and subsequent rehabilitation, Adam’s words truly resonate.
Settling into his new home was not smooth sailing for Bear right away. “When we first adopted him he seemed to not enjoy much of anything,” said Angela, “he was always too nervous to really get involved.” At first, he struggled with car rides and simple relaxation around his new owners. But over time, these anxieties melted away through a mix of positive reinforcement, routine, and even ARL dog training classes.
Besides behavior issues, Bear’s bowels also presented problems early on, with Angela and Adam trying half a dozen brands of food. Angela now makes his food herself, and she has noticed a tremendous difference. “His bowels are normal now, he isn’t a constant gassy mess, he is better hydrated and seems sharper mentally,” she said. “It’s taken a lot of my time but it’s probably the best thing I’ve done for him, and now that I know what I’m doing every batch is easier.”
Bear still gets anxious around new people. “This fear has often been an issue since he lives in such a populated area and Bear is such a handsome dog, everyone wants to interact with him!” Angela said. “People seem to often think that dogs are objects for human enjoyment, and feel somehow offended when you stop them from petting your dog. I wish there was more conversation and education about rescue dogs, especially ones adopted when they are adults.”
While Bear has now adjusted to his new home, Angela also acknowledges his impact on her and Adam. “Bear has definitely reduced the anxiety in our household,” she said. “We both have pretty high-stress jobs and having Bear is the best, most relaxing thing to come home to. No matter what happened that day we have to come home, take the dog on a walk and are compelled to love and care for him. He has brought me a lot of education and friendships.”
One thing often lost in adoption stories is the impact on the adopters. It’s clear that Bear is loved and well-taken care of, but the drastic effect he has had on his adopters is also worth noting.
Pets make so many homes, lives, and families complete. As we look back on Westport, it’s easy to see hopelessness and distress. Look closer and you’ll see Bear and animals like him, who were given another chance and took it with four paws!
Why YOUR Support Matters
Your support helps animals like Bear to find safe and healthy homes, even when it seems bleak.
Be a champion for animals. Visit arlboston.org to learn more about the organization, ways to get involved, and how to support animal welfare in Massachusetts.
With your help, anything is possible.