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Wellness Waggin’ and Boston Veterinary Care Collaborate to Save Dog’s Life

An 11-year-old Chihuahua is beginning 2021 on a positive note, thanks to the collaboration of two Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) programs.

Just before the New Year, Delilah’s owner brought her to ARL’s Wellness Waggin’ for an exam and vaccines.

Upon exam, ARL’s vet team noticed a large inguinal hernia, as well as significant dental disease.

Delilah on the road to recovery.

Inguinal hernias are relatively common, and occur near the groin where the dog’s hind leg attaches to the body. Symptoms include swelling, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, among others – if untreated, the condition could potentially be life-threatening.

Given the size of the hernia, the Wellness Waggin’ team referred Delilah’s owner to Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) for further examination. The animal required hernia surgery and dental work, however, cost was a barrier for Delilah’s owner.

Fortunately, the owner qualified for the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund, and the procedures were performed at no cost.

Delilah was spayed, the hernia was repaired, and also received a much-needed dental procedure.

“This was a great example of collaboration between ARL programs,” said Dr. Nicole Breda, BVC Medical Director. “Delilah’s hernia was certainly serious, but her dental disease was to a point where her jaw may have fractured due to the extent of infection…she needed help and I am pleased that BVC and the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund made it possible.”

Delilah made a quick recovery, and her owners are extremely grateful that ARL was able to provide the resources necessary to make their furry family member healthy and happy.

National Pet Dental Health Month

Delilah’s case is also a reminder about the importance of our pet’s dental health.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the perfect time to call your veterinarian and schedule a dental check-up.

Like humans, proper dental hygiene now can prevent potentially serious health issues later.

Common health problems associated with poor oral hygiene include blood or bone infection, diabetes, high blood pressure, among others. The pain caused by periodontal disease can also trigger poor appetite and lead to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.

Discuss the best course of action with your primary veterinarian to see what the best plan is for your pet.

About the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund

Longtime ARL supporter and former Board member, Jane Whitney Marshall, established the Alice. T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund in memory of her grandmother,(a contemporary and friend of ARL Founder Anna Harris Smith), who became a vice president of ARL in 1916 and served on the Board of Directors from 1921 until her passing in 1955.

For many families, a significant veterinary expense may mean the difference between keeping or surrendering a beloved family pet. The Fund helps remove financial barriers which may otherwise prevent pet owners from accessing vital care for treatable medical emergencies.


Warm November/December May Result in Outdoor Kitten Surge

Outdoor kitten rate of survival low when temperatures drop

With November and December being relatively mild, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is expecting to see a rapid increase in the number of kittens being born outside, which may unfortunately lead to many fatalities in the harsh New England winter temperatures.

Survival rates for kittens born during the cold winter months is very low, and ARL is urging the public to take action if they become aware of kittens being born in or around their property.

Kittens just after coming into ARL.

ARL’s Field Services Department works extensively with community cats and can be reached by calling (617) 426-9170, option 1.

The winter months are, in general, difficult for community cats. However, adult community cats are resilient, able to forage for food and have the cunning ability to find a warm, dry place to be protected from the elements.

On the other hand, kittens, particularly under six-weeks-old, are unable to care for themselves, and lack the body fat and adaptive skills to survive the extreme cold.

Additionally, mothers of kittens may succumb to disease or an unfortunate accident, making the kittens orphans. The public should never remove, but always leave kittens with their mother and contact ARL for assistance.

It’s imperative to get these helpless kittens off the streets.

When ARL Field Services is contacted, the team will assess the site to determine whether the animals are in danger, and if so will remove them, along with their mother.

The kittens will then be transferred to an ARL Animal Care and Adoption Center for a veterinary exam, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and finally find them a loving forever home.

The mother cat will be vaccinated, spayed, and behaviorally assessed to determine whether they are adoptable or should be returned to the field.


How Dogs Learn — Part Two

We at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) believe in positive reinforcement, reward-based training methods when it comes to turning our pups into well-behaved pets.

This includes rewarding calm behavior, and providing the skills they need to thrive. In the second part of this series, we will introduce some techniques to help with crate training and curbing jumping behaviors.

To read part one in this series click here!

Crate Training

Crate training should be happening when you are home and when you leave.

This is something that is vital for a dog to learn to be away from you, even if you are still in the house.

This teaches them to be independent from you rather than being attached to you when you are home, and having to be detached when you leave. It is also a great skill when you have family, friends, or someone doing work in your home that aren’t too fond of dogs.

Your pup is used to being in their ‘bedroom’ whether people are home or not. It’s also a great skill to have if you travel with your dog. You could put their crate in the middle of Times Square and they would be happy in it because it’s their safe/happy place!

Jumping

This is a greeting that is self-reinforced for dogs.  Typically it is human nature for us to react to dogs AFTER a dog jumps up on people — but it’s one of the most predictable behaviors that a dog will offer when greeting new people.

Working on greeting skills.

If a dog jumps up we say, ‘No!’ (talk), or push them down (touch) and look directly at them (eye contact) so the dog has actually been reinforced for that behavior.

Instead – we prepare for the dog to jump.

If you are alone – simply ignore the dog even if you have to put your hands up in front of your face so you don’t look at the dog and you can shield yourself from their jumping.

If you have another person in the home then it’s easy, and here’s an exercise to help curb this behavior.

Greeting Exercise

Typically, when people come through the door, the action of a person coming through the door is what triggers the dog’s excitement reaction.

It often does not matter who is entering.  When people enter the home, the dog has the freedom to run to the person and start jumping on them.

This is the only behavior they have learned, and guess what? It works to get what they want because as previously stated, people are forced to respond by talking, touching, and making eye contact.

What we need to do as pet owners is give the dogs an alternative, more appropriate behavior that works to get what they want.

How the Name Game Works with the Greeting Exercise

Fill a treat pouch with high-value, delicious treats.

The higher the distraction, the higher-value the food needs to be.

Have the leash on your dog’s collar well before the person is entering. When the person is a few minutes away call your dog’s name and when she looks at you offer a delicious food treat.

Bring your dog over to a corner far enough away from the door way maybe even in another room. Have the leash loop around your wrist and step on the leash so that if your dog gets up to go she can’t go far and you don’t lose focus or footing.

As the person is entering, feed your dog with delicious high-value food (rapid fire treats!) to where the dog cannot focus on anything else but the food.

Keep feeding and once the person is in and settled, you can drop the leash and go right into Name Game with your dog.

Your dog will probably go right to the person, however, you are the one with the hot dogs, so before the dog gets to the new person simply and excitedly say your dog’s name, ‘Spot!’ and air kiss or click with your mouth. The dog will consider going to you, and when you see that consideration start getting all excited, saying yes and clapping, and when your dog changes her mind and goes running to you, feed delicious food and praise.

Continue name game for a little bit until the dog realizes it pays better to be with you rather than jumping all over the guest.

This can be practiced with family members and used when guests come over.

If you repeat this for the next 100 people that walk through your door, you will soon see your dog running towards you rather than running towards the guest.

Remember – no cues or commands – it is all done with the environmental cue of people walking through the door. And presto, you have created an alternative behavior to jumping on people!

ARL FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a FREE service, and can answer basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, or if you are looking for ways to stave off your pet’s boredom.

If you have questions, please call the Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or via email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.


How Dogs Learn — Part One

Dogs will do whatever it takes to get them what they want. That is the only thing innate in dogs.

Therefore, if whining, barking and jumping up on their owners or on visitors gets them attention such as talk, touching and eye-contact, then the behavior is inadvertently reinforced and they will continue the whining, barking and jumping because it works to get what they want.

We tend to forget that dogs are a different species than humans, and we believe that it is ‘rude’ to ignore another human, then it’s ‘rude’ to ignore your dog regardless of what behavior they are offering. However, for dogs it actually works opposite, when dogs are not interested in interacting with another dog, they will ignore that dog — the dog looking to interact understands and simply walks away.

This is an important concept as we begin training.

The Covid-19 Effect

With many of us spending a lot more time at home in the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of animal adoptions has dramatically increased.

We may be home now, but consider what happens when we go back to work full time after the pandemic wanes, and begin to be away from home more.

Animals adopted during the pandemic tend to have a higher chance of developing some level of stress and anxiety when they are left alone for the first time, and the majority of stress and anxiety stems from the above: Pet parents giving their dogs attention (talk, touch and eye contact), even if their dogs behavior isn’t appropriate.

When that same pet parent leaves their dog alone, the dog will try all of those behaviors that work to get what they want, and when none of these behaviors work to get their owners to return – this often leads the animal to experience an increased amount of anxiety and stress.

We can start to help them cope with separation by changing the way they get attention from us by rewarding calm behavior.


Rewarding Calm Behavior

What you can do to alleviate some of the pushy/demanding behavior that might be inadvertently reinforced while you are with your dog is to follow a Rewarding Calm Behavior plan — this will be more challenging for the humans than it will be for the dogs, trust me!

 

Let’s break the plan down:

1. Ignore

  • When your dog approaches, paws, nudges, whines, barks or does any of the ‘normal’ behavior when seeking attention IGNORE them!
  • No talking, no touching and definitely no eye contact
  • Don’t give them any cues or commands, don’t acknowledge them at all. Simply be patient and wait for them to GIVE UP and leave you alone, walk away or wait until they go to lay down
  • Let them settle for a count of 10 seconds or more then go over to them and engage with them by using a simple ‘gooood dog!’ or ‘nice job!’.

2. Staying calm while preparing meals or preparing for walk

    • If your dog typically runs all over the place when you start making their meals or go to get their leash — abort mission
    • Put the food away or put the leash away and go back to what you were doing — no acknowledgment of them at all
    • Try again in 10-30 seconds, and if they run around and get all excited — again abort mission and continue in that regard
    • At about the fourth or fifth time they will think twice about running around the house or getting too excited
    • Then you can proceed. Keep in mind, if they get amped up again – abort mission!

    3. Make your dog work

      • Remember – this is making your dog WORK to figure out what works to get them what they want.
      • This will help them burn energy and it will help them realize being calm earns love and attention rather than giving into them on every whim.

      4. The hard truth

        • Your dogs’ attention-seeking/pushy behavior will get worse before it gets better – stay the course and be consistent – they will figure this out!

        This will help get your dog on the good behavior path and stay tuned for part II where we’ll cover crate training, jumping, and introduce you to a valuable exercise!

        Click here to read Part II of “How Dogs Learn”.


        ARL FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

        ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a FREE service, and can answer basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, or if you are looking for ways to stave off your pet’s boredom.

        If you have questions, please call the Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or via email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.

        Looking for one-on-one dog training help? Sign up for a private training lesson at ARL.


        ARL Shelter Medicine Provides Life-Saving Surgery for Surrendered Cat

        Tommy Girl, a 2-year-old cat, was surrendered to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center in late December and it was clear from the initial intake that she wasn’t well.

        She was dehydrated, running a fever and was suffering from pyometra, an infection of the uterus that can be fatal if not treated.

        Tommy Girl.

        Tommy Girl was spayed, removing the uterus and ovaries, and she was then placed on medication, fluids and a quiet place to recover.

        Given the severity of the pyometra, ARL’s shelter medicine staff were unsure if she would survive.

        “Due to the chronic pyometra in her abdomen, and potential for life-threatening sepsis, Tommy Girl’s condition was guarded for the first 24 hours,” said Dr. Amelia Sikora, ARL Community and Shelter Medicine Veterinarian. “Luckily, she showed her strength and rebounded.”

        With Tommy Girl continuing to have a lack of appetite following surgery, staff and volunteers kept a close watch on her condition and were even giving her kitten food via syringe, just to make sure she was receiving enough nourishment to help in her recovery.

        Slowly Tommy Girl began to eat regularly, gain weight and about three weeks following surgery was ready to find her forever home.

        While she is still mending, this past week Tommy Girl found her perfect match and will finish her recovery in her new quiet and loving forever home!

        You Make This Important Work Possible

        Thanks to your generous support, Tommy Girl was able to receive the excellent veterinary care she needed to get a second chance.

        This is a fantastic outcome, but there are many animals like Tommy Girl who need your continued support.

        Click here to ensure ARL can continue providing emergency, follow-up and preventative care for animals like Tommy Girl through 2021 and beyond – thank you for being a Champion for Animals!


        ARL Assists Weymouth PD to Rescue 31 Dogs from Overcrowding Situation

        This past week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department assisted Weymouth Police and Animal Control in rescuing more than two dozen dogs from an overcrowding situation at a private residence.

        In all, 31 Chihuahua-type dogs were removed from the home during the operation that involved ARL Law Enforcement and Field Services, Weymouth Police and Animal Control, and Animal Control Officers from Scituate, Braintree, and Cohasset.

        ARL took in 21 of the dogs, while the remaining animals were transferred to another animal welfare organization on the South Shore.

        The animals were removed due to unsanitary conditions, which it typically a byproduct of overcrowding.

        One of the dogs needed emergency care and was immediately transferred from the residence to a nearby animal hospital.

        The remaining 20 dogs were brought to ARL’s Dedham and Boston Animal Care and Adoption Centers and have received thorough veterinary exams.

        Several of the dogs were diagnosed with heart murmurs and dental disease, and the majority will be available for adoption later in the week.

        ARL urges the public to reach out to their local animal control or ARL Law Enforcement (617-426-9170 x110, or cruelty@arlboston.org) should they know of an overcrowding situation.

        Overcrowding can lead to serious health concerns not only for the animals, but for people living among the animals as well. Additionally, overcrowding often leads to under-socialized animals, creating ongoing behavioral issues, particularly for older animals.

        ARL Law Enforcement also wishes to thank and commend Weymouth Police and Animal Control for their steadfast commitment to the safety and wellbeing of these animals, and for allowing ARL to assist in this operation.

        This work cannot be done alone and animals urgently need your help now.

        Our hearts ache to know that animals are suffering and we know yours does too. Your support today can mean the difference between hope and despair for an animal in need.

        Your emergency gift today can support:

        • Veterinary care and rehabilitation for the sudden influx of animals that have suffered the trauma of neglect
        • On-going investigations of cruelty to protect vulnerable animals
        • Emergency response when crisis strikes and animals are in dire need

        I want to help button


        Southbridge Animal Control Officer Named 2020 “ACO of the Year”

        Southbridge, MA – The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) are proud to announce that Southbridge Animal Control Officer (ACO) Katelyn Spencer has been named Animal Control Officer of the Year for 2020.

        ACO of the Year Katelyn Spencer.

        ARL and MSPCA established the ACO of the Year award to honor an animal control officer whose efforts in their local community throughout the year have promoted responsible pet ownership by:

        • manifesting a dedicated, humane attitude toward the treatment and well-being of all animals
        • effectively enforcing pet responsibility laws
        • conducting public awareness and humane education programs
        • maintaining cooperative working relationships with other agencies involved with animals, such as state and local government departments, other ACOs, and animal protection groups

        Officer Spencer has been Southbridge’s ACO since 2017, and has consistently demonstrated dedication and compassion for both wild and domestic animals in distress throughout the community. Along with responding to hundreds of calls, Officer Spencer held vaccination and microchip clinics for residents in 2018 and 2019 (2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic), and spearheaded efforts to update the town’s Keeping of Pets bylaw, which was enacted in August 2020.

        Spencer exemplifies the traits ARL and MSPCA look for each year in an ACO.

        “ARL Law Enforcement has worked with Officer Spencer on a number of occasions and in each instance she was professional, dedicated and compassionate for the animals involved,” stated Joe King, ARL Director of Law Enforcement. “Officer Spencer is a credit to the profession and a true asset to the Southbridge animal community.”

        “We are excited to recognize Katelyn as the ACO of the Year. Her nominations were stellar and she clearly embodies the traits we look for. She sets an example for the profession,” stated Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA.

        Officer Spencer’s nominations for ACO of the Year included a number of accolades, heralding her dedication to animals and community, professionalism, and compassion.

        From those who nominated her:

        • “Katelyn has worked tirelessly to rescue animals both domestic and wild. Her dedication and compassion has saved a multitude of lives”
        • “I have worked as a law enforcement professional for more than 25 years… and in my experiences with ACO Spencer, I have not worked with a more professional or dedicated person to the proper treatment of ALL animals.”
        • “There is absolutely no task she cannot perform…she puts her heart on the line with every animal that crosses her path and the families that they belong to.”

        USPS Mail Carrier Delivers Support for Stray Cat

        Mail carrier built outdoor shelter, contacted ARL to rescue and rehome

        The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to acknowledge an incredible act of kindness that took place amid the holiday delivery rush in early December.

        While delivering mail, a compassionate, yet anonymous, United States Postal Service mail carrier in Cambridge, MA, went above and beyond their duties to deliver special support for a friendly stray in the Jackson Circle area.

        The mail carrier was not only feeding the cat, later named Jackson, but had also constructed a cardboard shelter to help protect the animal from the elements.

        As temperatures dipped and winter began to take hold, showing great concern for Jackson, the mail carrier contacted ARL’s Field Services Department to rescue the cat from a life on the streets.

        Jackson, who’s estimated to be eight-years-old, was extremely friendly when approached by ARL Field Services staff, and was brought to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

        A thorough veterinary exam revealed extensive dental disease, to the point where all but one of Jackson’s canines were cracked down to the root.

        Additionally Jackson had a number of abrasions, and tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, which cannot be transmitted to humans but can be spread via bite wounds between cats. It should be noted that cats who test positive for FIV do go on to lead normal and healthy lives.

        ARL shelter medicine staff performed a deep dental cleaning on Jackson, and because of the severity of his dental disease, 10 teeth needed to be extracted.

        After recovering from his medical procedures, Jackson quickly found his forever home just in time for the holidays, and is thriving in his new environment under a new name – Teddy!

        ARL is grateful to this anonymous mail carrier and their incredible act of compassion and kindness to not only look after Jackson but to make sure he didn’t have to spend another winter on the tough streets of Boston.


        Celebrate a Pet’s First Holiday at Home – Safely!

        Many people welcomed a new animal family member in their homes during 2020, and this will be their first holiday season together.

        While the holiday season can bring joy to the humans in your household, it can also be a sensory overload for pets.  Bright lights, shiny objects, trees inside the home, new sounds and smells can make pets both anxious and curious about the abrupt change in their surroundings.

        The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) shares these 5 tips for keeping all the furry members of your household safe during the holiday festivities:

        1. Decorate with care. Ribbons and tinsel are especially attractive and hazardous to cats. Holiday plants like mistletoe, holly, lilies, and poinsettias can cause vomiting, upset stomach, and blisters in your pet’s mouth.
        2. Secure your tree. Your frisky feline won’t be the first to topple over a 6-foot fir! Support your tree with a sturdy stand and wires to prevent tipping, should they decide to make a leap for it. For your canine companions, consider surrounding the base with a baby gate and hanging fragile ornaments higher on your tree. Also, watch for tree water spillage that might contain fertilizers and other toxic chemicals.
        3. Menorah or candle placement. Avoid placing the menorah, or lit candles anywhere your pet can reach or on a surface that can be toppled over.
        4. Watch out for wires. Chewing on electrical cords can cause severe oral burns and even fatal shocks for cats and dogs. Secure cords with plastic casing you can find at a hardware store, or cover with a bitter-tasting, non-toxic product from your local pet supply shop.
        5. Plan your pet’s meal around yours. This will keep your pet occupied and will make them less likely to try and partake in your holiday. Common holiday foods that can be toxic to our pets include: turkey skin, poultry bones, mushrooms, onions, grapes, raisins, certain types of nuts, raw dough, chocolate, and dairy products.

        Planning on adopting a pet for a family member or loved one?  Please don’t make it a surprise!  Bringing a new pet into a home is a huge decision and commitment, and the entire household should be involved in the process. There should be a conversation to see if the person not only wants a pet, but also what type of pet would best suit their lifestyle and living situation.

        Yes, the puppy with the big red bow around its neck is a great image, but if you really want to get a pet as a gift, I would recommend giving a stuffed animal as a place-holder until the recipient is ready to take the next steps.

        If you’re spending your holidays with a new pet than you’ve already received the best gift! Please, keep these tips in mind so we can all have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.


        There is still time to make a difference for animals this year

        The past 12 months have been challenging, however, you have shown that there is compassion and kindness in this world – thank you.

        With your support, we adapted our programs to do everything we could to keep more pets with their families and help the animals who came through our doors.

        Because of you, the following was made possible:

        • 2110+ animals found forever homes
        • 719+ services were provided to pets and pet owners in need, including
          • Temporary emergency shelter for pets
          • Pick up of pets needing critical veterinary care
          • Arrangements for emergency surrender of pets
        • More than 55,000 meals were delivered to our community

        As we continue to face uncertainty, one thing is certain – we cannot continue this important work without you. And, your support is needed now, more than ever.

        As the pandemic continues to affect the world, our work is more difficult. Increased economic challenges are causing a surge in the need for community-based services like low-cost veterinary care, temporary shelter, and access to essential pet supplies.

        We are also preparing for a possible influx of owned animals, as Boston’s eviction moratorium expired in October and it is projected that thousands of individuals, families, and their pets will lose their housing.

        Today, you have the chance to help us solve these pressing challenges. Your generous year-end gift will ensure that animals in need can get the care they count on including, food, sanctuary, medical care, love, and emergency rescue if they are in danger.

        We hope we can count on your support by making a gift today, as we continue to work to keep pets in homes and out of shelters.

        More than 35% of ARL’s funding arrives in December – now is a critical time to give to ensure we are ready to help animals and the people who love them today and in the new year.

        Thank you for being there for animals during these unprecedented and challenging times.

        We wish for you a safe and happy holiday season and the anticipation of a less challenging new year.

        Prefer to give by check?

        Please have your envelope postmarked by 12/31/2020 and mail to:

        Animal Rescue League of Boston ATTN: Development, 10 Chandler Street; Boston, MA 02116.

        Need assistance or prefer to give by phone?

        Please call us at (617) 426-9170 x603

        Did you know the CARES Act may include additional tax benefits for you if you make a charitable gift this year? Click here to learn more.

        ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding (with the exception of limited COVID-19 relief funding) and relies solely on the donations of individuals like you to keep animals happy and healthy in their habitats and homes – YOU make our important work possible.