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Category: Boston Veterinary Care
Is Your Dog Socializing During the Pandemic? Yes!

Socialization. So important for our pets, however during this time of social distancing and being at home more, many pet owners, particularly new pet owners, have reached out to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) with questions about socialization.

However, we first need to understand what exactly what socialization is.

When many of think of socialization for our pets, we may think of interacting with humans and other animals – but in fact, socialization is so much more than that.

Socialization begins at a very young age. For about the first year of life, the fear instinct in dogs is practically non-existent, which is a wide open window for new experiences.

During this time, we expose them to what’s considered normal in our everyday lives including: being outside, wearing a leash and collar, meeting but also seeing men, women, children, and other domestic animals. Even exposure to cars, a crate, bicycles, umbrellas, canes – all these things can be deemed as socialization.

With that being said – it’s extremely important that we expose our new puppies or adult dogs to as many new things as possible — and to pair those experiences with delicious food so they forever build a positive association to the new things that will eventually be normal to them.

But what about are current impacts to our everyday lives?

Regardless of the pandemic, your new puppy (or even new adult pet) is being exposed to new things every minute they are awake, so if you’re concerned about your pet being behind in the socialization department – don’t worry because they’re not!

And as we slowly begin to venture back into the outside world, whether it’s a beach, dog park, or Boston Common, you’ll want to take it slow for your pup, never let them off leash, and of course follow social distancing guidelines.

However, even despite staying six feet from others, we can still expose our furry friends to the world around them.

They can see unfamiliar people at a distance, hear unfamiliar noises, and also see other dogs from far away. Again, you want to pair these new “social” experiences with special treats so your pup will have a positive connection and become a well-adjusted member of the family.

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline

Pets have amazing, individual personalities, and if you get to a point where your pet’s behavior is becoming a concern, the Animal Rescue League of Boston offers a FREE behavior helpline to answer questions about dogs, cats, and small animals. For assistance, call (617) 226-5666, or email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org.


Press Release: Animals Being Abandoned Outside ARL Shelters

ARL Reminds Pet Owners if Surrender is Necessary – Do it Properly

With three animals being abandoned on Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) property in the past week, ARL is once again reminding pet owners that if they need to surrender an animal to please take the proper steps to do so.

Last week a pair of guinea pigs were discovered about 1,000 feet from the Animal Care and Adoption Center doors in Dedham, and on Monday, a cat was discovered outside ARL’s Boston shelter doors.

The guinea pigs were found in a urine-and-feces-soaked box with a hand-written message reading “Adopt me, I’m cute.” Because the former owners did not contact anyone inside the shelter, it was sheer luck that an ARL employee discovered the small box while leaving for the day.

Similarly, the cat was found outside in a carrier, also with a hand-written note describing difficult personal circumstances. Due to COVID-19, all animals involved are being quarantined for 14 days in case of a possible exposure to the virus.

Unfortunately, this can be a common occurrence for ARL, as well as other animal welfare organizations.

“When people inside the shelter building are unaware that an animal has been left outside, that is considered abandonment, which is a felony in Massachusetts,” said ARL Law Enforcement Director Lt. Alan Borgal. “When this happens the animals are put at risk by being exposed to the elements, animal predators and a variety of other threats, and sadly we have seen a number of instances where the animal wasn’t found until it was it was too late.”

ARL is committed to keeping pets and families together, and will explore all options to make that possible. However, ARL does understand that circumstances do arise where the animal may not remain in the home, and if that happens, pet owners need to reach out to make sure the surrender is done properly.

“Surrendering an animal is certainly not an easy decision,” Lt. Borgal said. “However, ARL as an organization exists to help both animals and people, and if surrender is necessary, there are no judgements, no shaming, no accusations. We just want what’s best for both the animal and people involved. Additionally, surrender gives us, as animal care givers, the opportunity to learn more about the animal’s behavior and habits, which further helps ARL find a suitable match for a new home.”

Once their quarantine period expires and adoptions resume at ARL, these animals will find new forever homes.

ARL Law Enforcement is investigating the incident in Dedham, and asks that anyone with information pertaining to the situation to please contact ARL Law Enforcement at 617-426-9170, or via email cruelty@arlboston.org.

If you need to surrender an animal, please contact ARL’s Boston, Dedham, or Brewster Intake Offices at 617-426-9170.


Animals and COVID-19

CDC, USDA Release New Report

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced that two pet cats in New York have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

According to the CDC and USDA, the cases occurred in two separate areas of New York State and are the first pets in the United States to test positive.

The cats, who have mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery, appeared to have contracted the illness from their owners who were sick with COVID-19.

To read the report in its entirety, click here.

Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, and the fact is, while cats and dogs are susceptible to coronavirus, there remains no evidence that pets can pass the virus onto others. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected by COVID-19.

Given this news and with many unknowns about the virus, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) concurs with, and recommends that pet owners heed the following CDC recommendations:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the home
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people
  • Walk dogs on leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people or animals
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where people with animals may gather

For those who are suspected to carry the illness or have already tested positive, the CDC recommends:

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them

ARL reiterates that while cats and dogs may be susceptible to coronavirus, if you are practicing good hygiene, social distancing and other precautions, you, along with your pets, will have a lower risk of infection.

ARL Response

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, ARL has taken a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, clients, and the animals we serve.

At this time ARL has not altered programs, services or protocols to support animals in need, or the people who care for them during this time of uncertainty. ARL remains committed to serving our communities and to take every measure to keep pets and families together.

For more information on ARL’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Resources and Answers to your FAQs

For more information on animals and COVID-19, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

For more information about testing in animals, see: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/one_health/downloads/faq-public-on-companion-animal-testing.pdf


ARL’s Response to COVID-19

Your Social Media Questions Answered

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has received a lot of questions on our social media channels over the last couple of weeks about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting ARL and how you can support our organization during this time.

Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services and incoming President recently took a moment to respond to some of your most frequently asked questions.

Thank you so much for submitting all of your questions and for all your support during this very difficult time.

Animals need you now more than ever, so please consider making a donation – every little bit helps.

To learn more about any of the information or programs mentioned, and for the most current ARL updates, please continue to visit arlboston.org regularly.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you for being an unwavering champion for animals in need!


ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline Part II

Your Top 10 Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Part II

 The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is committed to keeping animals safe and healthy in their homes, and offers a free service to ensure that owners are providing the best care possible for the pets we love.

 ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a convenient and reliable resource for behavioral and health-related questions you may have regarding your pet.

 We’re all spending more time at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, and over the past several weeks ARL has received a number of questions from concerned prospective or current pet owners.

 We have answers from ARL’s Animal Behavior Manager Laney Nee for the top 10 questions, here’s the top 5!

 Click here for the first half of the list!

Q: “Do dogs have a sense of time?” 

A: Another great question!

Dogs do have a general sense of time based on the routine that you set forth in their life.

For example, my dachshund mix Maria knows when the clock is making its way towards 6 p.m. so between 5-6 p.m. she starts whining and is clingier towards myself or my husband. 

We look at each other and say, ‘oh – it must be that time!’

This does not mean she looked at the clock and saw the exact time but she does knows that we both tend to be home during that time. She also knows our typical routine is that we feed her shortly after we come home from work each day. 

Dogs also get a sense of time when we go through our typical daily routine as well. 

They are constantly watching what we do when they’re with us so they know when it’s relaxation time, feeding time, time to play or go to bed!

Q: “Any suggestions for online puppy training?” 

A: Our Free Pet Behavior Helpline is a great resource available and for the COVID-19 crisis we have three certified professional dog trainers available to speak with as well. 

To find other resources online be sure to always look for resources promoting the use of positive reinforcement reward-based training methods. 

Ensure that they do not utilize any correction training equipment such as choke chain, prong, vibration or electronic type collars for training. 

Q: “How do I make sure my puppy who is not yet crate trained is safe at home while I’m working?” 

A: Contact our Free Pet Behavior Helpline and set up an appointment with one of our three certified professional dog trainers to review how to properly crate train your puppy.

Use this social distancing time to practice training so that by the time you return back to your daily routine, your dog will more comfortable spending time alone in his crate.

Q: “How can I make bath time more tolerable for my pup?”

A: In one word — food!

Always pair delicious treats when your pup is experiencing something new, like a bath.

If you have two people available to help during bath time, bring out your training treats, and have one person feed your dog while the other continues with bathing.

If your dog stops eating, then bring out higher-value food such as cheese or boiled chicken. Continue to offer your dog food throughout the entire bath.

If you’re giving the bath solo, you can smear peanut butter or cream cheese on a suction feeding mat toy and as your dog is happily licking, bathe away!

Q: “Do you offer dog socialize classes? I recently adopted a 1-and-a-half-year-old and want her to socialize.” 

A: We offer group dog training classes that include 5-8 dogs with their pet parents.

We also offer on-site private lessons where we will work on any and all training and behavioral issues. 

Please note: ARL’s dog training courses are currently suspended until after May 1.

Socializing your new dog will also happen organically as you start bringing your pup through their daily routine of walks and playtime.

Because your dog is new to you and your environment, it’s important to expose your dog to new things slowly and at your dog’s own pace. Pair new experiences with delicious treats to help build a positive association to the new experience. 

If your adopted dog came up from a southern state, Puerto Rico, or another Caribbean island, it is important to remember the environment that your dog spent the first year of his life in. Your dog likely spent most of his time off leash and free to come and go as he pleased, especially if he was found as a stray. He most likely was able to run from things he was afraid of and had limited interaction with people. 

As your dog transitions to a life in New England, it’s important to maintain patience as your dog acclimates to his new environment and routine.

Walking on a leash means that your dog no longer has the option to flee from unwanted situations and can result in your dog exhibiting fearful behavior towards new things. It’s important to get him acclimated to his leash and collar before you head outdoors, start with short walks and don’t forget to bring treats!

Simply adding high value treats to the equation can completely change the experience for your dog and eventually he will acclimate to his new life.

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.


Keeping Pets Occupied While Working Remotely

For many us, our schedules have been rearranged in recent days, and that means working remotely whenever possible.

You’re following the guidelines for working from home – showering, getting dressed, having a dedicated work space, avoiding temptations like a Netflix binge-a-thon – but what about your pets?

We’ve all seen the cute pictures online – a cat sprawled across a keyboard, walking all over a desk or table, or curled up in a person’s lap These images are cute, but they don’t necessarily correlate to you being productive.

Our furry friends are attuned to our human habits, and once they get over the confusion of you not walking out the door in the morning, they can see it as an opportunity to spend more time with you and become more clingy.

Here are some tips to keep you productive and ensure that your pets are engaged while you’re home.

For Dogs

Maintain your dog’s routine as much as possible.

  • Keep feeding time the same, and if your dog spends time in a crate while you’re not home, don’t be tempted to forgo that routine either.
  • If you do crate your animal while at home, a tempting bone or treat will keep them occupied while you get your work done.
  • Try not to give in to the scratches at the door to go outside every time, and try your best not to give in to a lot of attention-seeking behaviors (whining, barking, pawing, among others) that may be happening simply out of confusion and wonder as to why you are around for so long.

Enrichment is critically important!

Some ideas to keep your pooch entertained!

There are a number of things to keep your dog active, engaged and occupied, including:

  • Stuffed treats (like a Kong) can keep a dog occupied and engaged for quite awhile
  • Marrow and Nyla bones at various times throughout the day is a great way to keep them engaged, but the key is to put them away when their time with the bones is over
  • Add a walk or two if weather and your schedule permits (it could be good for both of you!)
  • Engage in a couple of constructive play sessions (not snuggle sessions) where you play and really get your dog’s brain working to let them have fun
  • Allow you dog to relax and have quiet time by themselves

For Cats

Keep your cat’s regular feeding schedule, but meal time by:

  • Place food or treats in food puzzles, or in recycled toilet paper rolls or egg cartons
  • Try scattering dry food throughout a room and make them find or chase it!

Experiment with some easy (and inexpensive) ways to get your cat playing which include:

  • Fill a large paper bag with a sprinkle of catnip – cats love the crinkling and will be sure to have fun with it!
  • Build a fort/obstacle course with cardboard boxes
  • Take away a few toys from their regular stash then reintroduce them later – they’ll seem like new!
  • Put on a video to stimulate their prey drive (birds, etc.) then get them playing with wand toys; they’ll be stimulated by the “hunt” and will tire out quickly.

Finally, you can do something simple like move their cat tree to another location. You give your cat a new view to focus on and a new sunny spot to nap!

Have Pet Behavior Questions? ARL Has Answers

ARL is committed to being a reliable resource for behavioral and health-related questions about your pet, and our goal is to help owners provide the best care for their animals.

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.


The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Edward Schettino, DVM, PhD as the 9th President & CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL). His term will begin May 1, 2020.

After thoughtfully examining the qualities and skills desired in a new president, ARL’s Board concluded that Dr. Schettino’s extensive knowledge of veterinary medicine, deep understanding of animal welfare, business acumen, and leadership skills, makes him uniquely qualified to lead ARL’s vision for the future.

Dr. Edward Schettino

For the past five years, Dr. Schettino has served as ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services, and before this post was the organization’s Director of Veterinary Medical Services. As Vice President, he has overseen ARL’s animal care and operations, law enforcement, community and shelter medicine, and community programs. He has been instrumental in advancing ARL’s vision for the future—to reach animals and people most in need—and led the program design and implementation of many ARL’s innovative community-based programs.

Previously, Dr. Schettino worked for over 12 years in both private veterinary hospitals and animal shelter settings. He is an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and, on behalf of ARL, has trained hundreds of police officers and veterinarians on reporting animal cruelty.

Dr. Schettino is recognized for his ability to collaborate with local and national organizations to enhance the animal welfare field as demonstrated by his service on a variety of boards and committees. This service includes the Massachusetts Animal Coalition Board, Massachusetts Veterinary Medicine Association, the Tufts at Tech Advisory Board, the Shelter Medicine Steering Committee at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and the Veterinary Technology Advisory Committee at North Shore Community College.

Today, ARL stands as the Massachusetts leader in providing affordable veterinary care to underserved communities, is in the forefront of responding to animal cruelty and neglect, and is a tireless advocate for law and public policies that will protect all animals from harm. We believe Dr. Schettino possesses the skills, passion, and leadership to support these objectives and advance our vision to reach, and positively impact even more animals and people in the years to come.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our current president, Mary Nee, for her enormously effective leadership of ARL. During her tenure, Mary conducted a strategic assessment of ARL’s programs, facilities and resources. Guided by this resulting plan, and through her vision, determination and hard work, she enhanced areas of strength, implemented necessary changes and successfully led the organization through a period of changing animal welfare needs. ARL today is helping more animals more meaningfully and effectively than ever before. The Board of Directors congratulates Mary for leading ARL to this proud place, and we wish her the best in her retirement.

 

 

 

Walter Kenyon, Chair

Animal Rescue League of Boston Board of Directors


It’s National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month!

Spay and Neutering Pets Promotes Health and Longevity

For all of us, the health and well-being of our beloved family pets is paramount; and the simplest way to reduce nuisance and aggressive behaviors, improve long-term health and longevity, is to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered.

February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month, and here at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), we field questions about spay and neuter on a daily basis which typically revolve around two issues – cost and understanding the real and long-term benefits for you and your pet.

Affordable Options Exist

Don’t let cost be a barrier, as there are numerous affordable options throughout Massachusetts that are readily available.

Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about your best course of action, but here are a couple of options.

ARL’s Spay Waggin’ is a mobile veterinary clinic offering high-quality and affordable spay and neuter services. The Spay Waggin’ has been serving Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, the South Shore and South Coast for nearly 20 years; serving more than 59,750 animals.

Another place to turn is your local Animal Control Officer. The Massachusetts Animal Fund’s spay and neuter voucher program allows low-income residents receiving state assistance to get their pets this important surgery free of charge. Vouchers can be obtained through your city or town’s Animal Control Officer and are redeemed at participating providers, including ARL’s Spay Waggin’ and Community Surgical Clinic.

By the way, you can help keep this program going by donating on your state tax form on line 33f!

Long-Term Health Benefits

Caring for animals can be expensive, especially when it comes to their health. But consider this – having your pet spayed or neutered can reduce the risk of serious, and costly, health problems later in life.

Neutering male dogs and cats before six months of age prevents testicular cancer and spaying female cats and dogs before their first heat reduces the risk of uterine infections and breast cancer.
Spaying and neutering can also reduce behavioral problems such as marking territory, howling or barking, aggression and wandering.

We all want our pets to live long and healthy lives, and having an animal spayed or neutered actually increases their longevity. According to published reports, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than unneutered males, and spayed females live 23 percent longer than spayed females.

Healthy Moms, Happy Litters

How about if you have a pet at home with an unwanted or accidental litter of puppies or kittens? No problem, the Animal Rescue League of Boston can help.

Through the Healthy Moms, Happy Litters program, ARL will provide free spay and neuter services and vaccinations for mother/father dogs and cats. Once the procedure is complete, and animals are returned to the owner.

ARL will also waive the surrender fee for the litter of puppies or kittens, who will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and placed up for adoption.

Remember, there are an abundance of resources and help available to those who need it so please consider having your pet spayed or neutered for their happiness, their health, and for your piece of mind.


New England Patriots Cheerleaders Visit ARL

This past weekend, members of the New England Patriots Cheerleading squad spent some time at the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center to make some cat treats and to spread some holiday cheer to some adorable adoptable puppies!

The visit to ARL was part of the Patriots Cheerleaders Holiday Service Day and was a perfect fit as several members of the squad are avid animal lovers. ARL thanks the Patriots Cheerleaders for spending a little time with ARL’s animals, staff, volunteers and even some lucky patrons!


Home for the Holidays

For many, the holiday season brings feelings of warmth, comfort, and friendship – and our wish for you and all the animals in our care is to experience the joy of the holidays.

Your generous support made this wish come true for thousands of animals so far this year, including:

  • 4,420 pets and community cats who were spayed and neutered to keep them healthy
  • 2,770 animals who were rehabilitated and adopted into forever homes
  • 980 pets who received affordable pet wellness services in the convenience of their own community
  • 275 cats and dogs who were transported away from overcrowded shelters in other states

But this important work to help animals is not close to being done.

In the last two months alone, ARL rescued over 160 animals from the horrors of neglect — and even more cases are under active investigation.  There has been a troubling increase in the number of animal cruelty and hoarding-type cases that result in a sudden influxes of animals in dire need, which is why your donations are critical to make sure we can stand ready to answer the call for help at any time.

At the same time, our shelter population is changing and we are seeing more animals with complex medical and behavior issues that require additional resources, skilled staff, and extra time to improve.

These animals need you now more than ever, and it’s not too late to help!

Animals give us so much.  Please consider giving back by donating today.

symbolic gifts

Thank you for your thoughtful year-end gift that makes happier lives possible for animals all year long!

Need assistance or want to give by phone? Please call us at (617) 426-9170 x603

Prefer to donate by check? Please have it postmarked by December 31, so that it may be considered tax-deductible for 2019 to the extent allowed by IRS regulations.