fbpx
Category: Adoption
Community Cat and Kitten Season Is Here

The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer, and with spring upon us, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has begun to see an influx of community cats and kittens, and reminds the public that many of these animals deserve to live their lives in loving homes, not on the streets; and there are steps to take to ensure these cats and kittens are safe and healthy.

Community kittens recently brought into ARL.

Community cats – friendly strays, feral, semi-feral or abandoned – are incredibly resourceful and can be found in a variety of places — under decks, porches, in woodpiles, window wells, anywhere where they can find relative quiet – they’ve also been known to sneak into basements!

Should you spot two or 20 stray cats or kittens, ARL’s Field Services Department is ready to help.

Through ARL’s Community Cats Initiative, agents will assess a reported colony to determine the possible number of cats, their overall health status, and whether or not a local resident in the area is feeding the animals and can continue doing so.

Once the colony is assessed and staff checks for signs of ownership, a Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) plan is formulated to have the animals spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and determine whether the cats will be returned to the field, or placed up for adoption.

With an estimated 700,000 community cats in Massachusetts, TNR is one of the most effective ways to stop the cycle of homelessness among cats.

A limb deformity impacted Hanson’s long-term survivability in the wild.

Additionally, there are countless instances where getting a cat off the streets and into a loving home is literally a life-saving action.

Hanson’s Journey

Hanson, a one-year-old male community cat was recently brought into ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center.

While healthy overall, a limb deformity, likely a congenital defect, would’ve likely decreased his long-term survivability in the wild.

After a thorough medical exam, neuter surgery and seeing his warm and easy-going temperament, he was placed up for adoption.

Healthy Moms, Happy Litters

Additionally, if your cat or dog gives birth to a litter of kittens or puppies and you are looking for support, ARL has you covered.

Through the Healthy Moms, Happy Litters Program, ARL provides FREE spay and neuter services for the mother and father animals, who will be returned to the owner after surgery.

The litter will be spayed/neutered, and when they reach the appropriate age, placed up for adoption.


Curbing Pet Anxiety as We Head Back to Work

Routine and Structure are Key to Ensure a Smooth Transition

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced shutdowns over a year ago, many pet owners began working from home and needed to help their pets adjust to them suddenly being home all the time. Now, as many start to head back into the office, pet owners must prepare their pets to once again be home alone.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) understands this will not be an easy process and wants to help pet owners guide their pets into this transition.

But preparing is a slow and gradual process that can’t be done in a day – it starts with understanding the causes of separation issues for our pets.

The top causes of separation-related problems are fear, frustration, boredom, or something health-related. Pets become frustrated if they don’t get enough of something or even too much of something.

Boredom can result if the pets are not being challenged or stimulated enough, and health-related issues such as allergies can cause anxiety or discomfort for pets and while pets cannot tell us what is causing their anxiety or discomfort, the behavior they exhibit is very telling in this regard.

Again, it’s critical to begin setting our pets up for success well before we head back to the office, and that includes taking care of our pets’ physical and mental well-being and focusing on training.

ARL offers these four tips to preparing your pet for a return to the office:

    1. Start slow! Even if you plan on going back into the office in six months, the earlier you get your pet into a routine, the easier the transition will be! Just as with humans, creating a routine alleviates stress of the unknown, and it’s no different for animals.
    2. Begin your routine by waking up at the same time each day. Keep mealtimes, walks, and playtime on a consistent schedule as well.
    3. If your dog is not crate trained consider doing so, begin offering them high-value treats and toys to use during independent playtime while inside their crate. Before long, your pet will learn that the crate can be their own personal safe and happy space, whether you are at home or not.
    4. Remember that repetition, patience, and rewarding calm behavior is key.

It’s also important to remember that as a pet owner, you’re not alone! ARL offers a FREE Pet Behavior Helpline to help tackle a number of behavioral issues.

The Helpline can be reached at (617) 226-5666 or by email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org. Once you reach out, an ARL representative will be in touch within 48 hours.

ARL also offers dog training classes at its Boston and Dedham location for basic and advanced canine learning, semi-private and private sessions are also available.

For more information, course schedules and pricing, visit arlboston.org/services/dog-training.


Press Release: 65+ Cats Signed Over to ARL Following Bond Order

Cats rescued by ARL on Martha’s Vineyard in July 2020

This past week, an ongoing animal cruelty case involving more than 65 cats and kittens who were rescued from a private breeding facility on Martha’s Vineyard in July 2020, took a major step forward, as the animals were officially signed over to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL).

While the defendant in the case maintains their right to contest the five counts of felony animal cruelty levied against them, ARL is now able to take steps to begin finding the cats permanent homes.

At this time there is no timeline for the cats to be made available for adoption, and those interested in adoption can log onto arlboston.org/adopt.

Since rescuing the cats in July 2020, the animals have received extensive medical care and have been living with foster families. The cost of care has exceeded tens of thousands of dollars, and the decision to surrender was made after a security bond was issued in the case.

In 2017, legislation was enacted in an effort to strengthen financial protections for animal care organizations like ARL, who is responsible for long-term care of animals related to active animal cruelty investigations or prosecutions. The legislation allows the prosecuting agency to request a court order for the accused to post a security bond, which can be used to recuperate costs of care. When granted, the accused has to either cover the bond or forfeit the animals.

This is the second time ARL has been granted a security bond request for an ongoing case.


A Friendship Forged Under Quarantine

For Ollie and Holly, they came from different areas, different situations, but fate (and a four-month quarantine) brought these two kitty friends together, and now the pair are set to spend the rest of their lives in the same home.

Five-year-old Ollie came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) in November 2020 after he was stuck in a tree in Weymouth for five days.

When ARL’s Field Services Department went to rescue him, neighbors indicated he had been in the area for several months and that the neighborhood kids nicknamed him Oliver (Ollie) – the name stuck.

Ollie was transported to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, and because his veterinary exam revealed several puncture wounds of unknown origin, the former stray would need to undergo a state-mandated four-month-quarantine.

For Holly, she also came to ARL in November 2020 after being found as a stray in the North Dartmouth area. Along with being a little underweight, she had suffered wounds to her legs, and like Ollie, was required to spend the next four months in quarantine.

When Ollie Met Holly

Upon arrival at ARL, Holly was friendly but nervous, especially around new people – she did however enjoy being around other cats.

Ollie on the other hand was incredibly friendly upon arrival, saying hello to anyone who would pay him attention. When it came to other cats however, Ollie was not interested – until he met Holly.

The two were placed in an office so they could have more space to stretch out and interact with people during their quarantine period, and for Ollie, he quickly became interested in Holly.

The pair would play and were often seen napping together, and even eating together! With Ollie’s help, Holly slowly began to come out of her shell and be more social with people.

Going Home

Given the bond forged during their four-months in quarantine, it was decided that the former community cats should find their new home together.

It didn’t take long, just days after being made available for adoption they found their perfect match and are now enjoying their new surroundings – together.

ARL Community Cat Initiative

With approximately 700,000 community cats living throughout Massachusetts, ARL launched its Community Cat Initiative in 2018, and has already helped thousands of these animals in a variety of ways.

For more information about the initiative click here.

ARL Field Services

ARL Field Services provides technical and non-technical rescue operations for injured or lost domestic animals, livestock, and raptors (turkey vultures, osprey, hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls).

ARL Field Services also assists governmental agencies with equipment and training; and plays an essential role in assisting ARL Law Enforcement in cases of animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse.

If you need assistance, call (617) 426-9170 to reach ARL Field Services dispatch, which operates from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM Tuesday-Saturday.


Stray Cat Found Under Porch Finds Perfect Match

Community Post Leads to Rescue

A home owner in Newton, MA, recently noticed a 13-week-old kitten seeking shelter under her house, and turned to a community forum website in an effort to find his owner.

The kitten was under the porch for seven days and when no one claimed ownership, an Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) volunteer reached out to help get him off the streets.

After privately messaging the home owner, the volunteer sprang into action by responding to the home and with the help of another dedicated volunteer, was able to trap the kitten within 10 minutes and transport him to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Newton was given a thorough veterinary examination when he arrived at ARL, and it was clear that he had been on his own for a little bit.

The kitten was malnourished and underweight, his abdomen was distended, and ARL’s shelter medicine staff also detected a heart murmur.

Following his examination he was placed into foster care to rest and recuperate in a quiet, stress-free environment.

Newton spent a week in foster care, and after being neutered and reexamined, he found his way into the perfect home!

Volunteer for Animals in Need

ARL volunteers are at the core of fulfilling the mission to be an unwavering champion for animals in need.

ARL’s 840 dedicated volunteers donated more than 63,000 hours of their time in 2020!

Additionally, ARL’s 435 foster families took in nearly 850 animals in 2020, giving them the opportunity to spend time outside of the shelter environment, and in Newton’s case, recover from injury or illness in a quiet, loving space.

We are so grateful to all of our volunteers, and if you are interested in giving back for animals in need, click here to see what opportunities are available!


Benji’s Remarkable Transformation

ARL granted bond request in case

In 2017, legislation was enacted in an effort to strengthen financial protections for animal care facilities like the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), who provide long-term care for an animal who is the subject of an active animal cruelty investigation and prosecution.

The legislation allows the prosecuting agency to request a court order for the accused to post a security bond, which can be used to recuperate costs of shelter, food, medical care, behavioral training, and other related costs.

If granted, the accused would have to either cover the bond or forfeit the animal.

ARL staunchly advocated for this piece of legislation, and in early 2021 ARL was granted a bond in a case dating back to late 2019. It was the first time since the passage of the legislation that ARL was granted such a bond.

Benji’s Story

ARL’s Law Enforcement Department took custody of Benji, now a four-year-old pitbull-type dog in November 2019 – along with dehydration, skin issues, foreign material in his stomach and other medical concerns, he was severely emaciated, weighing just 30 pounds, about half of what he should’ve weighed at the time.

Animal cruelty charges were filed, and while the case made its way through the judicial system, the incredibly friendly and resilient dog began his long journey to recovery.

Given the level of his emaciation, he was put on a strict feeding program and placed into foster care.

With dozens of shelter medicine visits and plenty of love and care, over time Benji got back to a normal weight, and his persistent skin issues were treated.

Case Closed

In early 2021, ARL was granted the security bond, and the accused ultimately agreed to forfeit Benji.

Caring for Benji for well over a year, his foster family had formed an amazing, loving bond, and wound up adopting him!

Benji Adopted

Advocating for Animals

The 2021-2022 Massachusetts legislative has begun and ARL’s Advocacy Department will continue to push for statewide legislation on issues critical to animal welfare in the Commonwealth.

Click here to see ARL’s legislative agenda and for more information on how you can be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.


Spay Waggin’ Treats Ill Community Kitten

Kitten needed eye removed due to severe infection

During a recent scheduled stop along the South Coast for the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’, an 11-month-old community kitten from Westport, MA, came in to be neutered and was slated to be returned to the field.

However, this kitten needed additional veterinary care due to a severe upper respiratory infection.

The infection had impacted one of his eyes to the point of rupture, meaning he would need the infected eye removed.

ARL agreed to take over his care and he was transferred to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption center where the neuter and enucleation surgeries were performed.

As with every community cat that comes into ARL, the kitten, now named Mike Wazowski in honor of a character from the Pixar movie Monsters Inc., was assessed behaviorally to determine if he was to be returned to the field or put up for adoption.

Mike was social almost immediately, and his playful personality quickly won over staff and volunteers alike.

The resilient 11-month-old kitten recovered quickly from his surgeries and less than two weeks after coming to the Spay Waggin’, Mike found his perfect match and is loving his new home!

Spread the Love to Help Animals Like Mike All Year Long!

During the month of February, as many celebrate love and affection, ARL is Spreading the Love to highlight the love we share for our furry and feathered friends!

Animals like Mike give us so much. They provide comfort, happiness, and, of course, love. And animals have been a huge support for so many during these difficult months.

Here are 3 way to join us and Spread the Love:

  1. Express your love for animals by making a gift 
  2. Make a gift in honor of a love one and send a special Valentine’s Day message with an eCard or a mailed card
  3. Become a Champions Circle member and help animals in need all year long

ARL’s Champions Circle is a special group of 800+ dedicated individuals who provide support in the form of recurring (usually monthly) donors. Their generosity provides the critical support to keep animals safe and healthy all year long.

If you’re interested in joining this select group, use our secure online form or call Derek at (617) 226-5662 to set up your gift over the phone.


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.