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The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss

Russell Friedman shares advice for grieving pet owners and their loved ones

The relationship between an owner and their pet is a special one… and the loss of a pet can be a heartbreaking one. National Pet Memorial Day, the second Sunday in September, is a day designated to commemorate the power of the human-animal bond. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that over 63 million people annually are grieving the loss of a pet, whether it be a dog, cat, bird, horse, rabbit, or other animal.

In a time when pets are considered by many to be an equal member of the family, why is it that we don’t always quite know what to say when a family, friend, or acquaintance’s pet passes away? In fact, research shows that over 85% of the comments that a grieving pet owner hears within the first few days of their pet’s death is not helpful for them, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

ARL blog sat down with Russell Friedman, director of the Grief Recovery Institute and co-author of the Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, to find out how to cope with the loss of your pet, and what you should and should not say to a grieving pet owner:

ARL Blog: Many people experience a very emotional or difficult time when their pet passes away. Some even report that they cry harder and longer over a pet’s death than a family member’s. Is that normal?

Russell Friedman: Just as we never forget the people who we love and who were important to us, the same goes for our pets. Grieving for animal in the same way that you would grieve a human being is completely normal, natural, and healthy.

Everyone has their own unique relationship with their pet. Even members within the same household grieving the loss of the same pet will react differently. Don’t forget that animals have very tangible emotions, so your other pets may grieve the loss of their companion too!

Unlike children who grow into adults, become more independent, and move out of the home, our pets do not. Although pets do age, they remain in our home and will always depend on us for food, shelter, and protection. The “parental” aspect to being a pet owner can make the emotional bond so powerful. For some couples who can’t have children, their pet is their “child” and they view them in that same way.

Our pets also give us a safe space to be ourselves and express our emotions without judgement. They are our loyal confidants. More often than not, what the person is feeling is a loss of the entity that used to always be there for them.

ARL Blog: Can you share some advice for people who are dealing with the loss of a pet?

RF: During a pet’s final care, we imagine unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future. There are always things that we wish would have happened differently. Allow yourself as much time as you need to grieve and surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Think of fond memories you had with your pet, and visit the gravesite or plant a memorial.

One of the biggest myths is the concept of replacing the loss. You need to allow yourself to grieve your old pet before you get a new one. This is only fair to the new pet, so that they have their own persona. As far as the timeframe between the death of your new pet and brining home a new one, there is no right or wrong answer; it’s whenever you feel ready.

If you are a friend or family member of a grieving pet owner, remember to never buy someone a new pet without their permission. Although your intention of helping that person to “move on” is well-meaning, the griever may simply not be ready to attach themselves to a new pet.

ARL Blog: In the Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss you discuss some phrases NOT to say to a grieving pet owner. Can you explain what a few of them are?

The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss

Russell Friedman, co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, shares important advice for grieving pet owners and their loved ones!

RF: A few phrases that will actually have the opposite effect of what you intended are:

“I know how you feel.” This statement is always made in an attempt to commiserate, sympathize, or empathize with the person who is grieving. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for you to know exactly how the person feels, even if you have had a related experience. Every relationship is unique and everyone reacts to the loss of a pet, family member, or friend differently.

“They’re in a better place.” and/or “They’re not in pain anymore.” Perhaps their pet is in a better place and not in pain anymore, however the person who is grieving is not in a good place and feeling a painful loss.

“Don’t feel bad…” The person who just lost their pet does feel bad and is upset, even if their pet wasn’t suffering or lived its full life expectancy.

ARL Blog: Do you have any advice for what you SHOULD say to someone who has a lost a pet?

RF: Yes! First and foremost, make sure to acknowledge that you hear the person and the words that they are saying. Listen with your heart, not your head, and don’t give advice unless asked.

One of the best things you can possibly say is, “I can’t imagine what this has been like for you.” If you say it in the tone of question, it gives the grieving person permission to elaborate and express their feelings, should they want to. It shows the griever that you’re non-judgmental and that they’re in a safe space.

Alternatively, the truest and most failsafe statement when you encounter a grieving pet owner is probably, “Gosh, I heard what happened. I don’t know what to say.”

ARL Blog: Many parents are nervous to tell their children that their family pet is sick or has passed away in an effort to shield them from grief and sadness. Any suggestions of what you SHOULD say to children?

RF: Yes, be honest with them. When speaking to children about the loss of a pet, you can modify your language in terms that they can understand depending on their age; however the thoughts and ideas should remain the same. If you make the decision to put your pet to sleep, explain to your children gently what’s about to happen and give them the choice of whether or not they want to be there.

Encourage your children to show their emotions and teach them that grief is a normal natural reaction to loss. Have them tell you stories about their pet and how much they love them. Ask them to apologize to their pet and/or forgive their pet for any “wrongdoings”, such as chewing on their favorite doll. Remind them that although their pet won’t be there physically, that they will always have a place in their hearts and memories.


Shelter Veterinary Services: Not Just For Cats & Dogs

Espresso, a 1-year-old rat, recovering from surgery to remove a large tumor

Everyone knows that the Animal Rescue League of Boston helps cats and dogs, but did you know that we help all other types of small animals, livestock, and wildlife too?

Espresso, a 1-year-old female rat, was picked up by ARL’s Rescue Services after being abandoned at a local veterinary clinic with her sister, Mocha. The adorable pair were brought to our Boston shelter where they received a veterinary exam, behavioral evaluation, and kind attention from staff and volunteers.

Unfortunately, during Espresso’s initial examination at the shelter, a large tumor was found over her left shoulder. Our Shelter Veterinary Services team immediately brought her to surgery, which cost approximately $250, to remove the tumor.

Espresso rat surgery before & after

Espresso, a 1-year-old rat, is recovering comfortably from tumor-removal surgery at the ARL. She and her sister Mocha are available for adoption and looking for a loving family!

DONATE NOW to ensure that animals like Espresso receive the critical preventative or emergency veterinary care that they need.

Espresso was a trooper throughout her surgery and recovered very well. In fact, she was walking around her enclosure and eating within an hour after waking up.

Through all of this process, Espresso never lost her love of people and remained as sweet as ever!

After surgery, the removed mass was sent to a lab for analysis and was determined to be a benign mammary tumor.

Mammary tumors are very common in middle-aged to older rats. Because rats have mammary tissue that extends well beyond the area of their mammary glands, mammary tumors can occur in locations you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Thankfully, the tumors are nearly always benign, as was the case for Espresso.  This means it’s very unlikely that they will metastasize or recur in the same location.

It’s important to know, however, that rats who develop one mammary tumor will often go on to have additional mammary tumors develop at new locations in the future.

We recommend that Espresso’s adopters have a discussion with their family vet about whether to consider additional treatment, such as hormone injections, to help prevent future tumors from forming.

MEET ESPRESSO AT OUR BOSTON ADOPTION CENTER! Espresso and her sister Mocha are both available for adoption and would make lovely little additions to your home. Visit us at 10 Chandler Street in Boston, email adoption@arlboston.org, or call (617) 226-5602 for more information about this pair.

UPDATE 9/5/16: Espresso and her sister Mocha have been adopted!


One New Law – Three New Ways to Protect Pets

Combination of Animal Welfare Measures Triples Protection

At a ceremony at the State House on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Governor Baker signed S.2369, An Act to Prevent Animal Suffering and Death, into law. The law will take effect on November 17, 2016.

Watch a snippet of the State House ceremony

Did you know that S.2369 actually is 3 bills in one? The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is thrilled because the new law provides protection for pets in several ways! While there has been a great deal of attention –and rightly so– on the pets in vehicles portion of the bill, the ARL is pretty excited about the other provisions as well.

“With the signing of this bill, animals in Massachusetts will be safer. The need to enact S.2369 was met with widespread support throughout the House and Senate and now by the Governor’s office,” said Mary Nee, president of the ARL.

Having 3 separate animal welfare measures enacted helps keep Massachusetts at the forefront of animal protection…

s.23691. Pets in vehicles, a new legal tool in place

The ARL’s “Too Hot for Spot” campaign is aimed at educating pet owners on the dangers of leaving a pet in a vehicle and it certainly underscored the need for this measure.

The new bill now allows first responders, such as animal control officers, law enforcement officers, and police officials, and firefighters, to intervene early and rescue a pet from a hot car –or from a car in extreme cold weather– before the pet is suffering.

Additionally, there’s a new consequence for people who put their pets in harm’s way by leaving them in cars, separate and apart from animal cruelty. People who violate the law will be given tickets, and the fines increase if they are repeat offenders.

Citizens may also help rescue pets left in vehicles, but only under limited conditions that require them to first call 911 and make reasonable efforts to find the owner. If the pet is taken from the vehicle, the rescuer must stay with the pet at the scene until law enforcement personnel arrive at the scene.

Dog tethered2. Tethering of dogs, now reduced to 5 hour time limit

The new bill updates a law already in place, which didn’t seem to be working as well as it should have been. Under the old law, a dog could be tethered (tied or chained up) for up to 24 hours. The law did not prohibit tethering outside in terrible weather.

The new law now limits the time of tethering outside to up to 5 hours. Additionally, a dog cannot be tethered between the hours of 10PM and 6AM, or outdoors when a weather advisory, warning, or watch has been issued.

 

s.23693. The ARL and MSPCA can further help enforce the law

The new bill gives the ARL’s and MSPCA’s law enforcement officers the ability to rescue animals that are confined under “cruel conditions”, which includes exposure to excessive animal waste, garbage, dirty water, noxious odors, and other potentially dangerous circumstances.

Under the new law, the ARL and MSPCA will now be able to enforce the prohibitions under this section. They are also permitted to write citations to violators if an animal control officer is unavailable or is unable to respond to the scene.

“We are grateful that first responders and citizens can protect the well-being of animals,” says Mary Nee. “We are also excited that our law enforcement officers now have the ability to enforce the law and stop animals from living in, and being exposed to, cruel and inhumane conditions.”

KNOW THE LAW… Click here to read the details of S.2369, An Act to Prevent Animal Cruelty and Death.

THANK YOU to Governor Charlie Baker, Senator Mark Montigny, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Rep. Angelo Puppolo, Rep. David Rogers, Rep. Louis Kafka, Senator Pat Jehlen, Senator Barbara L’Italien, Rep. Speliotis, and the many other legislators for their commitment to helping animals across the Commonwealth and for taking action to prevent animal suffering and death!

SPECIAL THANKS to the MSPCA and HSUS for their partnership on getting this important piece of legislation passed for animals in Massachusetts!

s.2369

Rep. Lori Ehrlich takes the podium.

s.2369

This adorable pup couldn’t help posing for the camera!

s.2369

Left to Right: Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Senator Mark Montigny, and Senator Tarr.

 


ARL Seeks Public’s Help in Finding Animal Cruelty Suspects

Umbrella Cockatoo Recovering Well After Being Severely Neglected

DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS BIRD? Contact ARL’s Law Enforcement, (617) 226-5610

On July 25th, 2016, a concerned citizen noticed something odd with the trash put out around Norfolk Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts; in the middle of the garbage to be collected was a birdcage filled with maggots and cockroaches– and an Umbrella Cockatoo.

umbrella cockatoo

Mayfield, the Umbrella Cockatoo found in the trash, is recovering well at the ARL after emergency surgery.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Rescue services quickly responded to the call to help the discarded bird.

When found, the Cockatoo, now named “Mayfield”, was emaciated and had a serious medical condition that required emergency surgery. Luckily, she is now recovering at the ARL and doing well enough to soon be able to find a loving home!

Sadly, Mayfield is not the first animal we’ve seen who was abandoned and left to die in the trash or on the streets. We understand that tough economic conditions also affect pets, but let’s get the word out that the last resort is not throwing your pet away.

Learn the 7 warning signs of animal cruelty

There are many organizations like the ARL, agencies, and individuals, who can be a dependable resource for families who need help caring for their pet. There are always options, but throwing an animal away is not one of them.

The ARL needs your help in identifying Mayfield’s owners…

The person(s) responsible for neglecting and cruelly abandoning this lovely bird needs to be held accountable for their actions. Failure to provide proper food, drink, shelter, and a sanitary environment and willful abandonment of an animal are felony violations of Massachusetts’s anti-cruelty laws. A person convicted of these crimes could receive a prison sentence of up to 7 years.

If you recognize Mayfield or have any information regarding her case, please contact the ARL’s Law Enforcement Department at (617) 226-5610.


Update on Westport Farm Animals

Over 1,400 animals found on 70-acre property

From July 19 through August 6, 2016, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) worked around-the-clock to assist in the rescue, removal, and specialized emergency veterinary treatment, of over 1,400 animals from the Westport, MA farm.

ARL Westport

Over 1,400 animals were found on 70-acre Westport, MA farm since the ARL Boston first arrived on the scene on July 19.

Many species of animals were in dire need of assistance, including goats, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, cattle, and birds.

While on scene, Lt. Alan Borgal, ARL’s Director of Law Enforcement, and Dr. Kyle Quigley, ARL’s Lead Community Veterinarian, led the efforts to address and provide for the well-being and care of many of the animals.

All because of the generous help of many individuals and organizations, the ARL was able to bring the animals to safety by relocating them to farms, sanctuaries, shelters, and foster homes. And, as the many animals in the ARL’s care heal, they are being connected with loving families.

THANK YOU to everyone who supported the ARL during this critical time to make our important work possible!

Help stop cruelty and neglect at its root cause…

Every animal deserves a safe and healthy home, which is why we must continue our important work to ensure that extreme cases of animal cruelty and neglect never happen.

It is only with YOUR SUPPORT that we can eliminate the conditions that lead to animal abuse – this is your opportunity to help animals in need.

Please make a gift today to stop animal cruelty at its root cause. Click here or on the green button below to donate now!

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Help S. 2369 Become Law TODAY

Bill 2369 has passed the House & Senate – now it just needs Governor Baker’s signature

Great news! Senate Bill 2369 — An Act to Prevent Animal Suffering and Death — has passed the House and Senate. The bill is now on Governor Baker’s desk and we’re hoping he signs this into law soon.

Many of you are familiar with our “Too Hot for Spot” educational campaign. For several years now, ARL has been reminding pet owners that when the temperature heats up, it’s best to leave your pet at home. Sadly, pets still are left in vehicles and we’ve still seeing deaths that could have been avoided.

Too Hot for Spot

Thanks to S. 2369, animals have a greater chance of surviving this sad fate. Law enforcement and other first responders are allowed to intervene early to rescue and prevent animals from suffering and dying from extreme heat. Under certain circumstances, other individuals will also be able to enter vehicles to save an animal from death.

S. 2369 also will prohibit dogs from being tied up to fixed structures for long periods of time, overnight, and in bad weather. The change in the law goes a long to ensure that dogs do not end up living on chains and left outside for long periods of time, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Take Action: Please make a quick call to Governor Charlie Baker’s office at (617) 725-4005 and urge him to sign S. 2369 into law today! 


MEMA Issues Situational Awareness Statement: Excessive Heat & Heavy Rainfall

Expected high heat and humidity are a dangerous combination for pets

This weekend will be Too Hot (and Too Humid) for Spot!

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) advises that hot and very humid weather is expected through Saturday. Rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected with heavy rainfall in the Greater Boston Area at times until Monday. The combination of high heat and humidity will make it feel like it is 100 and 105 degrees during the afternoons.

Follow these 4 tips to ensure your pet stays safe and cool this weekend:

  1. Leave your pet at home. We all like to spend time with our pets, but in weather like this, traveling with your pet can put them at risk. If you are heading out and know that you cannot take your pet into the store, the post office, the dry cleaner, or other destination, then please leave your pet at home.
  2. Don’t leave your pet in any vehicle – even with the windows cracked. Even a few minutes in a vehicle can result in dangerous and deadly conditions for your pet. Leaving the windows open does not help!  Dogs and cats cannot sweat. Vehicle temperatures can quickly rise to over 145 degrees in less than 20 minutes. Heat stroke and death for your pet can quickly follow, especially if your pet is older, overweight, or has a physical ailment.
  3. Avoid mid-day outdoor activities. When walking or playing with your pet outside, try to do so early in the morning or after the sun has set.  Always make sure that fresh cool water is available for your pet.
  4.  Prepare your pet for thunderstorms. Hot and humid days often bring booming thunderstorms with flashing lightning. If your pet shows signs of anxiety during a storm, consider putting them in an enclosed room (with no windows) and create a comfortable and safe environment. Turning on music or “white noise” machine can help muffles other noises. If these techniques don’t work, you might consider speaking with your vet.

Learn more about hot weather pet prepardeness at arlboston.org/summersafety


Breaking News: ARL Takes Care & Custody of 57 Animals (and Counting!) from Westport Tenant Farm

Your support is URGENTLY needed to help the many animals in this case

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The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has been working around-the-clock alongside the Westport Police Department and other local and state officials in and on-going effort at 465 American Legion Highway in Westport, Massachusetts.

Since early Tuesday morning, the ARL has been assisting in the rescue, removal, and emergency veterinary treatment of hundreds of animals on the 70-acre property.

Today, we were back on-site to help the many more animals still living in these cruel and unsanitary conditions.

ARL team on site rescuing animals in westport

ARL team on site rescuing animals in westport

ARL team on site rescuing animals in westport

Thus far, the ARL has taken care and custody of 57 animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, goats and other animals; removing them from a dangerous environment where they suffered without adequate shelter, food, or care.

Once they are healed, the animals in our care and will be connected with the caring families that they deserve.

Lt. Alan Borgal, ARL’s Director of Law Enforcement, and Dr. Kyle Quigley, ARL’s Lead Community Veterinarian continue to lead the efforts in Westport to provide for the well-being and care of all the animals in this case.

“This is the worst [case] I’ve ever seen, as far as scale and conditions,” says Dr. Kyle Quigley. “Animals here had been living in deplorable conditions for months, probably years”.

Your support is critical…

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is on the ground in Westport, MA and we need your help to provide the animals suffering in these deplorable conditions with the emergency assistance they so desperately require.

Thousands of dollars are needed to provide URGENT care to these animals who have suffered from abuse and neglect. Your gift today makes this important work possible!

Click here or on the red button below to donate now

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We’re in need of livestock foster families! If interested, please email dvogel@arlboston.org with your name, phone number, type of livestock you’d like to foster, and how many animals you can accommodate. Please note that all of our slots for fostering dogs, cats, and other small animals are filled at this time. Thank you!


Happening Now: ARL Rescues Animals from Cruel and Unsanitary Conditions on Westport Farmland

ARL assists Westport Police with removal of hundreds of animals

DONATE NOW to help the many animals involved in this case receive the emergency medical attention they need.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has been working alongside the Westport Police Department and other local and state officials in an ongoing effort at 465 American Legion Highway in Westport, Massachusetts.

This 70 acre property has over 20 tenant farms that are in various degrees of condition.

ARL Boston’s Director of Law Enforcement, Lt. Alan Borgal, along with Lead Veterinarian, Dr. Kyle Quigley, will continue to lead our investigation and the efforts to provide for the well being and care of all animals in this case.

As of this morning, the ARL took care and custody of the following animals:

  • 7 dogs surrendered by their owners to the ARL and Westport Animal Control
  • 2 adult cats, 2 kittens, 1 pigeon, and 1 Canadian Goose were taken into custody at ARL’s Boston shelter

These animals are now in our care and will receive the specialized veterinary care they desperately need. We will connect them with caring families once they are healed.

Due to their dire physical condition and suffering, 3 goats had to be euthanized on site.

The ARL is back on site today for the inspection of several more of the tenant farms. It is expected there will be many more animals found today.

Your support is critical to help the many animals in this case…

The ARL team is on the ground in Westport, MA assisting in the rescue, removal, and emergency veterinary treatment of hundreds of animals from the deplorable conditions on the 70 acre farmland.

Thousands of dollars are needed to provide these animals in Westport who have suffered from abuse and neglect with the immediate assistance and care they so desperately need.

This is an URGENT situation and it is YOUR HELP that makes all of ARL’s important work possible!

Click here or on the green button below to DONATE NOW

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Watch the Video: Dog in Hot Car Demonstration

ARL participates in hot car demonstration in front of MA State House

Earlier today, July 14, 2016, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), MSPCA-Angell, and HSUS participated in a hot car demonstration in front of the Massachusetts State House to illustrate the dangers of leaving your pet in a hot car — even for a few minutes. On a warm sunny day, it’s just TOO HOT FOR SPOT!

Click the “play” button below to watch the Facebook Live video of today’s demonstration:

Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford, the original sponsor of the bill, and Representative Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead, spoke at the event alongside officials from the ARL, MSPCA, and HSUS. Local law enforcement, fire fighters, and animal control officers who respond to calls about animals in hot cars were also in attendance.

As the speakers delivered their remarks, the live hot car demonstration showed the thermometer inside a vehicle rise to well over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

On June 28, the Senate passed a bill (S 2369) that would set civil penalties for abandoning an animal in a hot car and would make clear that police officers, firefighters and animal control officers may enter a hot car for the sole purpose of releasing an animal believed to be in danger. The bill is now before the Committee on House Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

The ARL urges swift passage of S. 2369 An Act to Prevent Animal Suffering and Death… and YOU can help!

Please contact your Massachusetts State Representative and ask them to pass S. 2369 AN ACT TO PREVENT ANIMAL SUFFERING AND DEATHTo find your representative, visit  https://malegislature.gov/People/Search

For more information on summer pet safety visit: www.arlboston.org/summersafety