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Category: Boston Veterinary Care
How a bill becomes a law, case study: PAWS I

Did you know… the Massachusetts Legislature is one of few in the country that meets full-time. They have two year-long sessions, with elections every two years.

In January of odd years, the Legislature convenes to consider bills and resolutions, conduct oversight, and make sure that state programs are funded through annual and supplemental budgets. Bills filed in January are considered through the rest of the two years, and must be re-introduced in future years (learn more about how a bill becomes a law here).

Most bills are filed before the bill filing deadline, which is usually towards the end of January at the beginning of the session. However, bills can be filed at any time. Often, bills filed after the bill filing deadline are prompted by events that show flaws in the legal system.

All bills, regardless of when they are filed, expire at the end of the session. While this technically is in early January, the legislature generally stops considering controversial matters after July 31 of the second year of the session.

Let’s look at PAWS I as an example of the steps required for a bill to become law in Massachusetts:

PAWS I Filing

PAWS I was filed after the shocking “Puppy Doe” cruelty case was investigated by ARL law enforcement in 2013. Around the country and even the world, people were horrified at the abuse this dog suffered. Often, cases like these highlight the weaknesses in our laws. Fortunately, the legislature sprang into action.

In October of 2013, ten months into the 188th session, Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) filed an aggressive bill to strengthen our laws and help prevent such cruelty from happening again. While this may seem early, the many deadlines of the legislature mean this was a relatively late file.

This shortened clock put this incredibly important legislation at a disadvantage from the beginning. The bill was sent to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which is responsible for conducting hearings for bills that would create or update crimes and penalties.

PAWS I Committee

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary Branch sees one of the largest volume of bills referred to it.

Committees must dispense with bills by a certain point in the session.[1]  However, in Massachusetts, each bill has the opportunity for public comment at hearing to address concerns with legislation, so it is not uncommon for bills to be worked on by the committee for a time after the hearing.

This is sometimes extended for bills filed later in the session, as they don’t have as much time to be considered. PAWS I was up against the clock as the committee hearing happened in mid-April, after the deadline to move bills out of committee.

In early July, PAWS I emerged favorably from the Judiciary Committee.  Unfortunately, not all bills favorably reported from committee become law, so there were several more steps to strengthen animal cruelty laws.

PAWS I Debate

July of even years marks the final month of the legislative session. While the legislature continues to work past July, they meet informally and will not take up controversial matters that require a roll call vote[2].  When the legislature meets informally, any one legislator can object to a bill, killing it.

On July 21, the PAWS I bill was amended by House Ways and Means and sent to House Steering, Policy and Scheduling, which sent the bill to the entire House for debate.  On July 30, with just 48 hours left in the formal session, the bill was put up for a Third Reading and debated by the House.

For a bill to become a law, identical language must be agreed to by both the House and the Senate, and it must be signed by the Governor. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill, veto the bill, or do nothing.

If the bill is vetoed by the Governor, 2/3 of the legislature can override the veto, to make the bill law.  However, this can only happen by a roll call, so it must be sent to the Governor more than 10 days before the end of July.

On July 31, the Senate debated the PAWS I bill. There were some changes made from the House version. This meant that the bill would have to be reconciled in order to move forward. The end of the session was looming.

PAWS I – The Final Passage

Although the end of July marks defeat for most bills, when there is consensus in the legislature to move bills forward, they are able to continue.

On August 11, the Senate conceded to the House language, making the language identical in both branches.  With this progress, on August 14, the House and Senate took the final votes on the legislation, putting it on the Governor’s desk, where PAWS I was signed less than a week later on August 20.

Bills moving through the legislature have countless hurdles, but often their greatest opposition is time. Fortunately, because of a strong commitment in the legislature to strengthen the Commonwealth’s animal cruelty laws, animals did not have to wait for these crucial provisions to be signed into law.

However, partially due to this shortened time frame, there were things that the legislature wanted to further consider.  To accomplish this, they created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force, of which ARL was a member.

This task force would issue a report that would become the basis for what would become PAWS II which became law in 2018.

PAWS I Timeline

10/7/2013           Senate   Filed

10/16/2013         Senate   Referred to the committee on Rules of the two branches, acting concurrently

10/31/2013         Senate   Rules suspended

10/31/2013         Senate   Referred to the committee on Judiciary

11/6/2013           House    House concurred

3/20/2014           House    Reporting date extended to Monday June 30, 2014, pending concurrence

4/3/2014             Senate   Senate concurred

4/17/2014           Joint      Hearing scheduled for 04/24/2014 from 01:30 PM-05:00 PM in A-2

7/7/2014             House    Accompanied a new draft, see H4244

7/7/2014             House    Reported from the committee on the Judiciary

7/7/2014             House    New draft of S767, S807, S1914 and H1182

7/7/2014             House    Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on House Ways and Means

7/21/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment by substitution of a bill with the same title, see H4328

7/21/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass and referred to the committee on House Steering, Policy and Scheduling with the amendment pending

7/22/2014           House    Committee reported that the matter be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting for a second reading with the amendment pending

7/22/2014           House    Rules suspended

7/22/2014           House    Read second, amended (as recommended by the committee on House Ways and Means)

7/22/2014           House    New draft substituted, see H4328

7/21/2014           House    Reported from the committee on House Ways and Means

7/21/2014           House    New draft of H4244

7/22/2014           House    Substituted for H4244

7/22/2014           House    Ordered to a third reading

7/30/2014           House    Read third

7/30/2014           House    Amendment 1 adopted

7/30/2014           House    Amendment 2 adopted

7/30/2014           House    Passed to be engrossed

7/31/2014           Senate   Read

7/31/2014           Senate   Rules suspended

7/31/2014           Senate   Read second

7/31/2014           Senate   New draft substituted, see S2345

7/31/2014           Senate   Recommended new draft (Tarr, et al) for H4328

7/31/2014           Senate   Substituted as a new draft for H4328

7/31/2014           Senate   Ordered to a third reading

7/31/2014           Senate   Read third

7/31/2014           Senate   Passed to be engrossed – Roll Call #469 [YEAS 40 – NAYS 0]

7/31/2014           House    Read; and referred to the House committee on Ways and Means

7/31/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment, striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in place thereof the text of an amendment, H4388

7/31/2014           House    Referred to the House committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling with the amendment pending

7/31/2014           House    Committee reported that the matter be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting with the amendment pending

7/31/2014           House    Rules suspended

7/31/2014           House    Read second

7/31/2014           House    Amendment adopted, as recommended by the committee on House Ways and Means, see H4388

7/31/2014           House    Ordered to a third reading

7/31/2014           House    Rules suspended

7/31/2014           House    Read third and passed to be engrossed

8/11/2014           Senate   Rules suspended

8/11/2014           Senate   Senate concurred in the House amendment

8/14/2014           House    Enacted

8/14/2014           Senate   Enacted and laid before the Governor

8/20/2014           Senate   Signed by the Governor, Chapter 293 of the Acts of 2014

[1] This is known as “Joint Rule 10 Day”. Why? The rule that requires the bill be moved by that date is Joint Rule #10. It serves as a break in the session, where bills generally must get a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

[2] A “roll call vote” is a vote that consists of each legislator voting yes, no, or abstaining. Roll call votes are required for some bills.


Summer Safety: Protect Your Dog’s Paws!

For the past seven years the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Too Hot for Spot® safety campaign has warned pet owners of the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot vehicle.

But with longer days and warm temperatures, outdoor pets face additional dangers – hot surfaces which can cause severe burns to your pet’s paws.

Asphalt, concrete, or brick surfaces i.e. parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, walkways, bike trails etc… absorb the heat from the sun and surface temperatures can exceed 145 degrees!

Other surfaces include wood, metal, artificial grass, running track material, and beach sand.

Burns to the paws are incredibly painful, and can really limit your dog’s mobility, especially if all four paws are affected.

We can’t keep our pets in a bubble, but there are measures you can take to ensure your pet is safe while outdoors this summer.

Air temp vs. asphalt temp

  1. The Hand Test. The surest way to determine if a surface is to place your hand on it for 7 seconds. It’s simple, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet!
  2. Plan Outdoor Time. Always a good idea during the warm weather months anyways, but you should try and limit your dog’s exercise time to early morning or early evening when it’s coolest. Keep in mind that these hot surfaces that absorb heat stay hot long after the sun sets.
  3. Stay on the Grass. Grass typically stays cooler than artificial surfaces.
  4. Protection Gear. Booties, Socks, Paw Wax Balm, these products can add a layer of protection for your dog’s paws. Dogs do sweat through their paws so it’s important to limit the amount of time they wear protective booties. Keep in mind it will take some time for your dog to get used to having any of these on his feet.

You also want to remember that your dog’s paws may be more susceptible to burns after getting wet and signs of burns to look for include:

  • Limping
  • Refusing to walk
  • Red or pink color change in paw pads
  • Licking or chewing at the feet
  • Blisters

Burns should be treated quickly, and if you discover that your pet has suffered burns on their paws, they should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.


Press Release: Rescued Mini Donkeys Seek New Home

Bonded pair seized from hoarding-type situation

A pair of mini donkeys who have come from previously traumatic situation were recently transferred from foster care to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, and are now searching for a new home.

The donkeys, Brownie and Marshmallow, were seized from a hoarding-type situation in Plymouth County in late 2019 and were two of approximately 50 animals taken from the unsanitary conditions on the property.

The former owner is facing animal cruelty charges, and the property has since been condemned.

Twenty-year-old Brownie, and 13-year-old Marshmallow are neutered males, and because of their bond, ARL is seeking to adopt the donkeys as a pair.

While initially shy and despite the terrible conditions they were previously living in, they are extremely friendly, comfortable around people of all ages, including children, and have outgoing personalities.

With many livestock owners on Cape Cod, ARL is hopeful that Brownie and Marshmallow will find the type of loving home they deserve quickly, and reminds the public that all animal adoptions are currently by appointment only.

Interested parties should call (617) 426-9170 x305 to schedule an appointment, and will also be required to show a photo of the enclosure the donkeys would be living in to ensure it’s appropriate.


Fireworks Can Increase Our Pet’s Anxiety

Fireworks and July 4th go hand-in-hand, however with town and cities across Massachusetts cancelling annual fireworks displays, many have begun shooting off fireworks in their backyards and neighborhoods.

Calls to authorities regarding fireworks in Boston are up a reported 2,300 percent, and surrounding states where the sale of fireworks are legal are reporting a tremendous surge in sales.

First, fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, and second, the sudden explosions can be detrimental and dangerous for our pets.

To see local media coverage of this story by WCVB reporter/anchor Doug Meehan click here!

To see local media coverage of this story by WHDH reporter John Cuoco click here!

Many dogs are afraid during a thunderstorm, and while thunderstorms and fireworks can be loud, there’s a huge difference between the two.

“When storms happen, the barometric pressure will tell them that it’s coming; not with fireworks and it’s so detrimental,” says Laney Nee, ARL’s Shelter Behavior and Enrichment Manager.

Fireworks can cause behavioral issues that may last for a long time, and signs to watch out for include:

  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Howling or barking
  • Pacing
  • Trying to find a place to hide
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

“Dogs only communicate with their voices, their mouths, their paws and their body language and when we interact with them (while they’re exhibiting signs of fear) there is a possibility they may redirect that fear into an aggressive behavior,” Nee said.

Additionally, the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks may also cause a dog to run off. During this time of year, shelters around the national typically see an increase in lost dog reports.

How to Help

We of course want to keep our pets safe.

The first and easiest step to take is to make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags, and if they are microchipped, to be sure that the contact information is current and correct; as a precaution just in case they become lost.

You can also set them up in a room with some of their favorite toys, turn on some soft music, a television, or a white noise machine to help drown out the noises caused by fireworks.

If you are concerned about the bright lights, you can also move your pet into a room with no windows, however you may need to prepare for the chance they may run when the door is opened.

There are also medications to help reduce stress and anxiety, however this is something that needs to be discussed with your veterinarian to determine which, if any, medication would be appropriate for your pet.

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.


Cyanobacteria Blooms Discovered in Sections of Charles River

Algae dangerous to animals and humans

This week, the Charles River Watershed Association released a public health warning after discovering blooms of cyanobacteria in several sites along the Charles River, from the Mass. Ave. Bridge to the Museum of Science.

According to the advisory, swimmers and boaters should avoid contact with the water, and because the blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs, our canine friends should not be swimming in, or drinking this water as well.

While the formation of blooms typically happens later in the summer, the watershed association acknowledges that the immense heat and amount of sunlight we’ve seen recently, combined with the nutrient pollution already existing in the Charles created a scenario for early blooms of cyanobacteria.

While the discovery has been made in the Charles River, the bacteria thrive in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water ecosystems.

Dangerous for Dogs

Exposure and ingestion of cyanobacteria can be life-threatening for dogs.

Onset of symptoms can happen within 30 minutes, or even 24 hours later.

Signs to look for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rigidity
  • Excess salivation
  • Algae in vomit or stool
  • Blood in urine
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory paralysis
  • Convulsion
  • Seizures

If your dog exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms after exposure to blue-green algae, seek veterinary help immediately.


Advocacy 101: Breaking Down the Basics

Advocacy in its simplest form, is to lend support towards a cause or proposal.

For the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), advocacy is at the core of our mission.

Since its founding in 1899, ARL has advocated for animals and people, understanding the proven link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to people.

Some of the first advocacy efforts by ARL and founder Anna Harris Smith were related to improving conditions for carriage horses in the city after witnessing countless acts of mistreatment.

Advocacy in Practice

Advocacy looks different for every person who decides to get involved. We can advocate for ourselves, for others, and for causes we care about. Advocacy goals can be to change laws, to change regulations, to change practices, and to change minds.

One of the most common ways of advocating is contacting your elected officials. Wherever you live, you are represented by many layers and levels of government. This includes city or town level, county level, state level, and federal level. There are a lot of people who represent and work for you, who have different abilities to change laws and regulations.

On the surface, advocacy may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can help advocate for animals in need!

ARL’s Advocacy Department goes through the thousands of bills filed each year and tracks them to make sure that animals have a voice on Beacon Hill and beyond. From time to time, we ask you to lend your voice to help animals. When contacting your elected officials, here are a few tips:

  1. You don’t have to be an expert! A lot of people are worried that they will be asked questions they don’t know the answers to, that their effort will be met with hostility, or that their voice won’t matter. Elected officials rely on their constituents[1] to tell them what issues matter to them, and they expect that sometimes there will be disagreement. The most important question you should be able to answer is why the bill matters to you.
  1. Familiarize yourself with the background before you call or email. Knowing background information will help you talk about why you’re passionate about a bill. Maybe you volunteer in our Animal Care & Adoption Centers and you’ve worked with animals who have been the subject of cruelty cases, maybe you adopted an animal who was abused, maybe you live in a community that saw a large cruelty case, or maybe this is just something you really care about. ARL frequently updates its legislative agenda and provides a synopsis and background information for each piece of proposed legislation.
  1. Use the method of contact that makes you feel most comfortable. Email is often the easiest format because it allows you to take your time writing and it doesn’t have the pressure of talking to someone on the phone. Every elected official is different, but personalized information is always best. If you write an email, make sure to include your name, address, and contact information. If you call, they will likely ask for this information. Most elected officials keep a database of people who contact their office so they can reach out in the future. Keep in mind that you may receive a response from staff; staff is heavily involved in this work and it does not mean the elected official is ignoring you!
  1. Things often move slowly. Don’t be disheartened because you called to support a bill and it didn’t pass. The Massachusetts Legislature considers bills on a two year session, and around 5,000 bills are filed to be considered during these two years. There are bills filed on education, transportation, healthcare, civil rights, animal welfare, and many other topics. Bills move through multiple stages to get passed, and the legislature is busier certain times of year than others. Sustained advocacy is the most successful advocacy, and it’s never too early or too late to speak out! Click here to see how a bill becomes law in Massachusetts.

Advocacy welcomes all ages and abilities, and along with contacting your elected officials, you can advocate by joining groups that speak out, engaging in education, and participating in public calls to action.

Championing a piece of legislation that ultimately becomes law is a tremendously rewarding experience, and the more who become involved, the better the chances of ushering in change to protect animals throughout the Commonwealth.

Learn more about the bills ARL is supporting this session.

[1] What’s a constituent? Probably you! “Constituent” is a brief way of saying “people who live in an elected official’s district”.


When the Temperatures Rise It’s Too Hot for Spot®

With the weather warming and the restrictions easing, many of us have one thing on our minds – getting outside!

But, as we gear up for another summer, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is once again launching its annual safety campaign, Too Hot for Spot®, to remind pet owners of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars.

During warm weather months, we typically see animals being left in hot cars at beaches, near bike trails, and other parking lots associated with summer. However this year, we worry we will see more instances of animals being left in hot cars in places that many of us frequent while doing our daily errands.  Grocery stores, the post office, and banks – these are places where we will say, “I’ll be in and out.”

But, in the world we are now living in, the reality is that trips to these places are going to take longer.

The average grocery store trip, according to the Time Use Institute, is approximately 41 minutes. This figure is based on pre-pandemic information. Grocery stores and other businesses now need to take extra steps to disinfect or limit the number of people allowed inside at one time – resulting in daily errands taking longer. Leaving an animal in the car for even a short period of time, could be deadly.

Unlike humans, animals cannot efficiently cool their bodies. And while the windows in the car may be cracked, even with outside temperatures below 80 degrees, the inside of a vehicle can heat up to well over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. The stifling heat inside a car makes animals susceptible to heat stroke, and the onset of symptoms is rapid.

Health hazards aside, it is also against the law in Massachusetts to keep an animal confined in a vehicle when extreme heat or cold may threaten the animal’s health.

ARL launched its Too Hot for Spot® annual campaign 7 years ago, and while pet owners should be well aware of the dangers of leaving animals in vehicles during the warm weather months, we sadly still see numerous examples of animals suffering and even dying every year, as the result of being left in the car.

Please, when it is hot outside, leave your dog at home. Set them up in a cool, humidity and temperature-controlled room, give them plenty of water, and make sure to limit their outdoor exercise to the morning or evening hours when it is coolest.

Summer is here and we’re all ready to get outside. Please continue to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe and healthy during these uncertain times. We’re all in this together.

To learn more summer pet safety tips, visit arlboston.org/too-hot-for-spot.


ARL Continues its Mission During Shutdown

When the impacts of COVID-19 began to be severely felt in Massachusetts, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) did what so many other organizations and businesses did across the state – altered day-to-day operations for the health and safety of staff, volunteers, clients and the animals we care for.

While ARL placed more than 200 animals into foster care in mid-March and suspended adoption services, as an organization ARL was extremely active in helping animals in need and caring for the communities we serve.

Placing animals in foster care had multiple benefits.

First, it allowed the animals to be removed from the shelter environment, which can be stressful for some, and into a home setting.

A home setting is not only less stressful, but it also gives ARL’s Animal Care Associates a better understanding on what these animals are like in a home, making it easier to find their perfect match.

Another benefit was creating open kennel space at ARL’s Animal Care and Adoption Centers, in the event that emergency animal intakes became necessary for pet owners.

Intake

From March 16 to May 31, ARL did see a surge in intake, as 286 animals came through ARL’s doors – 134 in Boston alone.

These animals came to ARL in a variety of ways – emergency owner surrenders primarily due to COVID-19-related hardship, adopted animals returned, law enforcement cases, transport from other municipalities, among others.

The majority of the animals were cats, with 180 felines coming into ARL’s Boston, Dedham and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers.

There were 72 dogs that came through intake, the remaining 34 animals were small animals and livestock.

Law Enforcement

While adoption services were suspended, ARL’s Law Enforcement Department remained busy during the past two-and-a-half months.

From January 1, 2020 through May 15, ARL’s Law Enforcement Department had 128 new cases reported, involving 600 animals.

However, over the past two months alone, ARL Law Enforcement opened 56 new cases, involving 189 animals.

During the past two months, ARL Law Enforcement has responded to hoarding-type situations, a number of animal cruelty situations including a cat in Framingham that was shot with a high-powered pellet gun, several instances of animal abandonment, and also assisted in a number of non-cruelty cases including the return of a geriatric stray cat to its family in Winchendon.

Serving Communities in Need

Along with suspending adoption services, an additional byproduct of COVID-19 was the suspension of ARL community services, primarily the Wellness Waggin’ and Spay Waggin’ – two programs that bring veterinary services directly into the communities ARL serves.

The question was how can we still serve our communities in spite of stay at home orders and the growing impacts of COVID-19?

The answer came in the form of ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. (Supporting Animals Facing Emergencies) Program.

The program, initially funded by a $30,000 grant through PetSmart Charities®, has allowed ARL to support community partners Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC), by providing their clients with pet food and supplies and other urgent assistance.

Clients of ARL’s Wellness Waggin’ are also eligible for assistance.

ARL has provided the following services to clients who qualify for the program:

  • Deliver pet food and other essential pet supplies to clients’ homes and partner-supported community housing;
  • Pick up pets to provide critical veterinary care and return them to their owner;
  • Provide temporary emergency shelter for pets and offer pick up and return of the pet to their owner or a designated caregiver;
  • Arrange for emergency and essential surrender of pets with pick up service.

To date, the Keep Pets S.A.F.E. Program has received more than 300 requests for assistance, secured more than 75,000 individual healthy meals for pets, delivered essential supplies and pet food to more than 160 clients, and provided telemedicine or critical veterinary care to more than two dozen clients.

While Massachusetts slowly reopens, the need remains, and ARL is committed to keep this program running for as long as it’s needed to assist the communities we serve in the Greater Boston area.

For more information on ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. Program, and to see if you qualify, log onto arlboston.org/safe.

Thank you!

This important work is made possible by the generosity of people like you.

While it is difficult to predict the long-term impact of this global crisis, one thing remains constant—animals are still in need.

By lending your support, you ensure that animals in Massachusetts can get the care they count on including food, sanctuary, medical care, love, and emergency rescue if they are in danger.

red donate button 


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.