Category: Boston
Dog Bite Prevention: Advice and Signs to Look for in Dogs

May 19-25th marks National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a week designed to help educate the public about the nearly 5 million dog bites that happen every year.

A few facts from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):

    • 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites every year
    • Of those, about half are children
    • The age most at risk are children age 5-9
    • Senior citizens are the second most commonly affected group

We interviewed Dr. Amy Marder, VMD, CAAB, Director of the Center for Shelter Dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Boston to get some advice on dog bite prevention.

Q: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.7 million dog bites occur annually, with approximately 60 percent of the victims being children. What tips can you give to help us educate our children about the prevention of dog bites?

A: Most dog bites are not reported, but statistics of the ones that are reported show that children, especially little boys, are the most common victims. Most dogs do not bite! But if they need to protect themselves or their property from what they think is dangerous, they may. It’s important that children learn about dog behavior and how to interact appropriately with a dog so that bites can be avoided. Some of those tips are as follows:

  1.  Never approach or reach for an unfamiliar dog with no owner present, especially if the dog is tied, behind a fence or in a car.  If an owner is present, always ask if the dog likes children.
  2. Never bother dogs when they are eating, chewing a toy, sleeping or caring for puppies.  Just think about how you feel when your brother or sister takes your food or toys away or wakes you up in the middle of a sleep.

Q: What is the most appropriate way to greet a dog?

A: Always let a dog, even one you know sniff you before you pet.  Watch the dog to see if he likes you for a few seconds before you pet.  If the dog wags his tail and stays with you, then it’s OK to pet, but do so under the dog’s chin instead of on his head.  If the dog backs away, he probably doesn’t want you to pet him, so don’t pet.

Q: What should you do when a strange dog approaches you?

A: If a dog is alone, stand perfectly still, do not pet.  Allow the dog to sniff and wait for him to go away.   Do not start running, as the dog will probably chase.  If the dog is with an owner, ask the owner if the dog likes children (then do as above).  

Q:What advice do you have for behaving around unfamiliar dogs? 

A: Unless there is an owner with the dog, I would ignore them.

Q: What are warning signs to look for in a dog who may bite?

A: Look at what the dog is saying to you.  Dogs use sounds and body language to communicate how they feel.  Just like us!  If you hear a dog growl, or show his teeth, don’t proceed.  If you see a dog stiffen his body, tuck his tail, move away from you, yawn, lick his lips, or stare at you, don’t proceed!  Additionally, if a dog shows signs of being fearful you should not proceed.

Q: Do you have any additional tips for preventing dog bites? 

A: Not all dogs behave in the same ways. Every dog is different. Just because your dog enjoys the things that you do, it doesn’t mean that all dogs will. If you follow these guidelines, chances are dogs will like you and you won’t get bitten.

League Founder Anna Harris Smith Home Restoration

On Tuesday, we celebrated our 113th anniversary and told you about the Anna (Clapp) Harris Smith home restoration project. Today, let’s take a closer look at the history of the property.

Historic Boston Incorporated and the North Bennet Street School, located in the North End and specializing in 17th to 19th century buildings, have partnered to restore the Anna Harris Smith house.  After receiving a grant from the 1772 Foundation, the organizations were able to acquire the historic Clapp residence. The restoration will reflect the home’s appearance circa 1804 when Anna’s family resided there. Over the years, the house was somewhat modernized by past owners, but this only pertained to the exterior. However, the interior fell into decay and was in great need of repair.

The North Bennet students were entrusted by Historic Boston to restore the house to be as ‘period’ as possible. Rich Friberg, the preservation carpentry faculty leader of the project, said that the group did not know that Anna lived there but was pleasantly surprised by that fact. Through the use of traditional tools and methods, the students have been able to turn back the clock to 1804. The up-to-date windows were replaced by handmade sashes of 12 panes over 12 panes, a design similar to the one the house had 100 years ago. Even older than the design of the windows, the foundation of the Clapp house is speculated to be the original from the 17th century.

When North Bennet began the project, the front wall of the foundation was crumbling under the house. Historic Boston dug up the yard so that the stones could be withdrawn and reset for a secure foundation. Friberg stated that the banister in the house is most likely the original but they have yet to do anything with it since their work has focused mainly on the home’s exterior. The front door is not the original, but it was well researched and replicated.  The east elevation has just been finished and the completion of the north elevation is not too far behind.

The Clapp house is in the process of being designated a City of Boston landmark.

David Ortiz Meets Young Donor

November 15, 2011: Red Sox star David Ortiz spends some time with Josselyn Siegel of Wilmington, a young philanthropist who donated $100 to the League by selling her handmade clay creations.

“We were so touched by her wonderful gift from the heart,” says Melanie Sheffield, director of the President’s Council at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “It’s especially meaningful to see philanthropy begin at such an early age. It says a lot about the kind of person Josselyn is, and the adult she will someday become.”

Thank you Big Papi

Yesterday was a great day for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Big Papi’s visit inspired and uplifted the League’s staff and garnered extensive coverage on the evening news. This event will attract many more adopters to our shelter and help find forever homes for needy animals.

Big Papi enjoyed a tour of the Boston Shelter where he met the cats, dogs and other animals that are available for adoption. Afterwards, he revealed his genuine care and concern for animals as he played ball with the dogs in the yard.

My special thanks go to Big Papi, event sponsor PopChips, to the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this event a success, and to the many League supporters who came to the shelter to meet Big Papi and bring attention to the needs of the animals in our care.

Jay Bowen

Our Shelter Tour with David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) had the pleasure of taking David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz on a quick tour of the Boston Animal Care & Adoption Center yesterday.

He was greeted in the lobby, by long time resident, Sapphire and an ARL adoption agent “Oh you like me little girl” – Ortiz said to Sapphire, the two bonded quickly.

He also spent time with a kitten, named Francis, who was recently rescued from a drain pipe by the League. Francis, whose fur resembles a Lion’s main, impressed Ortiz, he told Veterinary Technician, Jessica Wright, that as a child he always wanted to adopt a Lion but now he is happy with his 3 year old Terrier, Foxy.

The tour was full of moments of laughter, Ortiz was down-to-earth, friendly and funny! When we took him to see the dogs, he took his time making sure each dog received a treat and some special attention. Ortiz immediately gravitated to our largest resident commenting on his size and how similar they were.

Photo courtesy of Boston.com, Kristi Palma

Photo courtesy of Boston.com, Kristi Palma

When we told Ortiz about our Field Services Department, he was impressed by the scope of our services. As an animal lover, he recognizes the importance of the work that the ARL does and told us how much he appreciated the opportunity to get to meet the animals and see behind the scenes. Everyone at ARL is so thankful for him taking the time out of his busy schedule to visit.

Big Papi announces winner

Posted on October 25, 2011 by guest blogger, David Ortiz (Courtesy of the Popchips Blog)


What’s up red sox nation, Big Papi checkin back in. Really wish we were playing in the world series, but it was an honor to be there to accept the roberto clemente award. roberto has always been a role model for me on & off the field, so it’s such an honor to play a small part in continuing his legacy. special shout out to everyone who has supported the David Ortiz children’s fund over the years.

Also a big thank you to everyone who submitted ideas & voted for different ways that i could give back for this contest with my people at popchips! They are all great causes, and i wish i could do them all, but i’ve selected an idea that’s very near to my heart. Congratulations to the winning submission from Jennifer W. of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

Big Papi can help a little puppy: Big Papi can play ball with the dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s shelter in the south end! big papi would help us to find homes for animals in need, give love and care to our shelter dogs, and raise awareness of the importance of adopting shelter animals. big papi can hit a home run for Boston’s homeless animals by playing a ball game with our dogs as part of a special adoption day in honor of October’s national adopt-a-dog month. go red sox!–Jennifer W.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston has done great work over the years rescuing and finding homes for dogs in the boston area.  i’m honored to do what i can to help raise awareness for this great cause.  my family has a dog of our own, so i know the value that a pet can have on a family.  stay tuned for more details about the event!