ARL’s Dr. Schettino on Spay/Neuter, Part I

Hosting #ARLAskaVet Twitter Chat on World Spay Day

Dr. Schettino ARL director

Dr. Schettino takes a break with Socks during our interview on the importance of spay/neuter to preventing animal overpopulation.

He’s a man with a mission: to let everyone know it’s hip to snip!  We sat down with the ARL’s Dr. Edward Schettino to discuss the importance of spay/neuter.

As director of veterinary medical services, he works with the ARL’s private veterinary clinic Boston Veterinary Care,  the Spay Waggin’, and shelter veterinary medicine programs. He cut to the chase about why it’s hip to snip and answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the procedures.

In part I of his interview, Dr. Schettino focused on common myths about spaying and neutering.

ARL Blog: Give us the basics – why is it so important to spay and neuter pets?

Dr. Schettino (DS): There are too many cat and dogs in our communities that don’t have homes. If we can increase spay and neuter rates, we can help prevent pet overpopulation. Additionally, it lengthens the life span of our pets, reduces the cost of pet ownership, prevents aggressive behaviors, and offers protection from potentially life-threatening diseases including testicular cancer, breast cancer and uterine infections.

ARL Blog: What are some common myths about spay/neuter that you often hear?

DS: There are many common myths – here are some that I hear often:

I don’t want my male dog or cat to feel like “less of a male.”
Pets don’t have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet’s basic personality.

I want my children/family to see my pets experience the miracle of birth.
Complications can and do occur during the birthing process. Teach children/family members that all life is precious and by spaying and neutering your pet, he/she will lead a healthier, longer life.

It’s better to have one litter before spaying a female pet.
This is false. Females who are spayed before their first heat are typically healthier.

My pet is a purebred and I should breed him/her.
Your pet may be a purebred, but so is at least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters throughout the country. Purebreds and their offspring are no exception and be spayed and neutered as well.

My pet will get fat and lazy.
Pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much and don’t give them enough exercise, not because they are spayed or neutered.

My dog (or cat) is so special. I want a puppy/kitten just like her/him.
Your pet’s puppies or kittens will not be a carbon copy of your pet.

It’s expensive to have my pet spayed
Many low-cost options exist for spay/neuter services. Check out the ARL’s spay/neuter resources to find one in your area.

Read part II of our interview with Dr. Schettino!  He talks about common concerns people have about spay/neuter surgery and its effects on their pet.

Have more questions for Dr. Schettino? On World Spay Day, February 24, World Spay Day, Dr. Schettino and the ARL will host an #ARLAskaVet Twitter chat at 12 PM (EST). Follow the ARL on Twitter @arlboston and submit your questions using the hash tag #ARLAskaVet.


Kick-Off Time For Spay/Neuter Fund Drive

15 days to raise $15K to spay/neuter more animals in 2015!

Howard spay/neuter spokescat

“It’s Hip to Snip” spay/neuter spokescat Howard strikes a pose during his photo shoot. Howard and all adoptable animals at the ARL are spayed or neutered before they go home with their new families.

The Ellen B. Gray Memorial Fund has challenged us to triple a $5,000 donation to fund spay and neuter programs at the ARL. So we’re kicking off the 15-day “It’s Hip to Snip” Fund Drive starting today, day one of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, to meet that inspiring challenge!

All funds donated during the It’s Hip to Snip Fund Drive February 1 -15, 2015, will benefit the ARL’s spay/neuter programs and services.

Donate Now

There’s nothing cool about pet overpopulation. Too many cats and dogs don’t have homes. One way to solve the problem is to increase spay and neuter rates among owned, stray, and feral animals in Massachusetts.

In 2014, more than 5,500 cats, dogs, small animals, and livestock were spayed or neutered through the ARL’s mobile Spay Waggin’, shelter medicine, and feral cat programs.

Very importantly, all adoptable animals at the ARL are spayed or neutered before they go home with their new family.

Help raise $15,000 to spay and neuter more animals in 2015 by donating to the It’s Hip to Snip Fund Drive this February!

In honor of National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month this February, the ARL’s “It’s Hip to Snip” campaign will focus on raising awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering animals to prevent pet over population.  Learn more about the campaign at

It’s Hip to Snip spay/neuter fact: A large portion of the animals coming in to ARL shelters come from unplanned litters of kittens and puppies.




It’s Hip to Snip – Spay or Neuter Your Pet

February is National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

It’s definitely hip to snip this February during National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!

spay spokesdog Liam

It’s Hip to Snip campaign spokesdog Liam looking super cool in his shades during his photo shoot.

snip-spay Liamsnip-spay LiamWe’re spreading the word that one of the best ways to prevent pet overpopulation is to spay or neuter your pet.

Our “It’s Hip to Snip” spay/neuter awareness campaign will feature a spay/neuter fund drive, public service announcements, and an educational event to help more people learn about  the important benefits the low-risk surgery has for the community, people, and pets.

For more campaign event information and spay and neuter resources, visit

So, why is it so hip to snip? Consider these 5 reasons:

  1. You snip, you save. Particularly given the number of affordable options available in Massachusetts, the cost of caring for an unplanned litter far outweighs the cost of having a pet spayed or neutered.
  2. Snipping reduces spraying. Neutering resolves the vast majority of marking behaviors—even when a cat has a long-standing habit. Other nuisance behaviors such as howling in cats and excessive barking in dogs eases and even disappears after surgery.
  3. Snipping stops scuffles. According to the National Canine Research Foundation, approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered. Neutering male dogs and cats reduces their urge to roam and fight with other males.
  4. Snipping lengthens life span. The USA Today reports neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered males, and spayed females live 23% longer than unspayed females.
  5. Snipping is a safeguard. Neutering male cats and dogs before six months of age prevents testicular cancer. Spaying female cats and dogs before their first heat offers protection from uterine infections and breast cancer.

So, pet owners, adjust those cool shades, and be part of the solution during National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month! Spay or neuter your furry friend and help spread the word that it’s hip to snip!

It’s Hip to Snip Fun Fact: At the end of every episode of the popular game show The Price is Right, hip host Bob Barker always reminded viewers, “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Goodbye, everybody!”   If more people took Bob’s sage advice, there would be fewer homeless cats and dogs and pet overpopulation would be humanely reduced!


ARL Rescue Team Brings in Lowell Goat

“Caprine cavalier” headed to Dedham shelter

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 goat in crate

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!


February is Pet Dental Health Month

BVC offering 25% off dental cleanings

It’s time to brush up on your pet’s dental health and enjoy 25% off dental cleaning at the ARL’s Boston Veterinary Care February in honor of National Pet Dental Health Month!

Your pet’s stinky breath may not just be the result of eating a smelly dinner.  Bad breath can be a sign of dental problems.  Bacteria, plaque, and tartar can build up on your pet’s teeth, causing bad breath, gingivitis, tooth loss, and infections.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.

Just as it is for people, the best way to prevent dental problems in your pet is to brush their teeth.  Watch a demonstration of how to brush your pet’s teeth in the video below:

Seeing your veterinarian for a regular dental check up and cleaning also keeps your pet’s pearly whites healthy.

According to a 2013 analysis conducted by VPI Pet Insurance, the average cost to prevent dental disease in pets is $171.82, but it costs $531.71 to treat dental disease.  So talk to your veterinarian today about maintaining your pet’s dental health!

To book an appointment for a dental cleaning with Boston Veterinary Care with Boston Veterinary Care, visit


Thank You Thursday – You Did It!

Why Can’t Rocco Stop Smiling?

Thanks to you, Rocco – the fuzzy man in the picture above – can’t stop smiling! Why?

Because he’s as happy as we are to say that we reached our fundraising goal in the final days of 2014!

fundraising goal high paw

High Paw! Thanks to you, more animals will get a chance at a better life in 2015.

With your support, thousands of animals got a chance at a better life.  Last year, your donations helped….

  • Find permanent homes for over 4,000 cats, dogs, birds, and livestock
  • Spay or neuter more than 3,900 cats and dogs on the ARL’s Spay Waggin’
  • Deliver rehabilitative care to animals recovering from neglect, like Rugby and Madeline
  • Offer emergency support to 199 animals rescued from a hoarding situation
  • Provide the City of Boston assistance and support at the Boston Animal Control facility

The ARL doesn’t receive any government funding and your generous support truly makes our work possible.

So put your paws together and give yourself a warm round of applause this Thank You Thursday!

From everyone at the ARL, your kindness and compassion for animals in need is very much appreciated.



Puppy Transports: What You Need to Know

ARL’s Dr. Smith-Blackmore comments to CBS News

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.

Watch the CBS Evening News story

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

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.

puppy transport group shot

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.




Puppy Rescue, Thanks To Two Kind Boys

Jumping into action on a cold night

Thank you to the two boys who called the Animal Rescue League and Boston Animal Care (BAC) for help with a puppy rescue on a very cold night earlier this week.

puppy rescue in Boston

Two boys found the small puppy trapped between a fence and a wall in a local park.

After hearing whimpering noises coming from somewhere, the boys went outside to look around and try to find what was making them. They followed a trail of tiny footprints in the park across the street from their home and found the poor pup trapped between a metal fence and retaining wall!

Realizing the little dog was stuck and would not survive a night out in the freezing cold, the two rushed to get help.  The ARL and BAC arrived on the scene and worked together to pull the shivering and frightened puppy out from behind the fence.

Watch the short video of the gentle rescue below.

We’re happy to report the little guy is sweet as can be and recovering very well from his ordeal thanks to the two kind young men who helped an animal in need!




Cold Weather Alert!

ARL Says Bring Your Pets In From Cold

With wind chill advisories in effect for many parts of the state and forecasts predicting some of the coldest temperatures in Boston in many years, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is urging people to take precautions: “Minimize outside activities, particularly for the elderly and very young.  Also, consider your pets.”

The ARL asks pet owners to bring outdoor pets indoors.

Limiting outdoor time for indoor pets is a good idea during extreme cold weather, says the ARL.

Limiting outdoor time for indoor pets is a good idea during extreme cold weather, says the ARL.

Though they may have furry coats, animals are by no means immune to dangerously cold temperatures.  Even rabbits, cats, and dogs that typically live outdoors need extra assistance keeping warm as temperatures plummet.

“Because it’s been a relatively warm fall and early winter, animals who live outdoors have not developed their thick winter coats or had a chance to acclimate to this sudden cold,” explains Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, the ARL’s vice president of animal welfare.

She adds that, “some breeds simply don’t develop winter coats and don’t belong outdoors in the winter at all.”

If you are concerned about feral or stray cats living in your neighborhood or around a store or business you are familiar with, also try to bring them indoors to a garage or basement if possible.  If that’s not possible, the ASPCA has put together a handy “how to” guide for making an inexpensive cat shelter to help community cats make it through this cold snap.

The ASPCA says an elevated foam bin filled with stray provides warm shelter for feral cats.

The ASPCA says an elevated foam bin filled with stray provides warm shelter for feral cats.

Other preparations you can make to protect animals during the winter include:

  1. Winterize outdoor accommodations. If your pets must stay outdoors, ensure they have adequate protection against the elements. Veterinary experts agree a winter-friendly shelter should have three enclosed sides, stand off the ground, and contain generous amounts of bedding such as clean straw.  Take steps to ensure your pet’s drinking water does not freeze.
  2. Check underneath the car hood. Cats love to warm up underneath cars and car hoods, leading to burns and other grave injuries when the car gets turned on suddenly. Make a habit to pound on the hood of the car and give a visual check underneath your vehicle before you start it to make sure no one is taking a nap or basking in the heat from the engine.
  3. Don’t leave your pet inside the car.  The warm temperatures inside your vehicle don’t stick around for very long once the engine is off.  Your car can act like a refrigerator and your pet can quickly start to freeze.

 SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.  Have concerns about an animal in your neighborhood out in the extreme cold this week?  Contact your local animal control office or authorities immediately to let them know about your concerns.

Visit for more information about winter pet health and safety.


Take a Dog Training Class with Your Pup!

January is National Train-Your-Dog Month

Did Santa bring you a new puppy for Christmas? Or is teaching your dog not to jump all over your holiday guests on your 2015 to-do list?

There’s no better time to consider taking a dog training classes than National Train-Your-Dog Month this January!

As our experienced dog-trainers will tell you, a well-behaved dog is a happy dog.

09-08-14 Dog Training Photo

Registration for Winter 2015 dog training classes at the ARL is open!

He can hang out with visitors, go places with you and join in on family activities. If your dog has learned some basic house and outdoor manners, he will not jump all over guests or bother them too much.  He can ride in a car safely, go to a relative’s house and settle, go to the park or the beach for an outing and come back when called.

Especially when it’s too cold for pets and people to be outside for a long period of time, teaching tricks is a great activity to do with your dog—it’s entertainment for the whole family!  A few minutes a day of positive training can really help your pet burn excess energy.

This winter, the ARL has many dog training classes for dogs of all ages that review basic and advanced cues, along with house and outdoor manners. All classes are held at our Boston headquarters and you have access to free on-site parking.

Check out ARL classes now

For the new puppy in your life, we recommend Puppy Kindergarten, a six-week course for puppies 8-20 weeks old. The first week is for owners only (we have much more to learn than our puppies!). Tuesday classes begin next week on January 15 and Thursday classes on January 20.  The “PK” experience includes:

• An off leash puppy play period for puppy socialization
• Training games for the enjoyment of both puppies and owners
• Basic commands
• Discussions about puppy behavior problems, proper nutrition and veterinary care

For the dog who needs to learn some better manners, we suggest Good Manners.  In just six week,s you will cover a variety of basic commands including sit, down, and stay.  Your dog will also have the chance to work on greeting skills with other dogs and people during this interactive and hands-on course.

And for the old dog ready to learn some new tricks, check out Sniffing for Fun and our Loose-Leash Workshop, offering tips, techniques, and advise on equipment you may need to teach your dog to walk nicely on leash.

For more information about class prerequisites, costs, and to enroll, visit or call (617) 426-9170.

SPECIAL BONUS: The ARL offers a 25% discount for ARL adotpted alums and 10% off for BVC clients!