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

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

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

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

Delilah on the road to recovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Pet Dental Health Month

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

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

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

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

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

About the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund

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

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


February 14 is Pet Theft Awareness Day

5 tips to protect your pet from theft… and what to do if you’re a victim

Due to the ever-changing economy and the pet business becoming increasingly more lucrative, the scary truth is that pet theft is on the rise. Just as you wouldn’t leave a young child outside unsupervised, the same should go for your pet. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, don’t forget to show your furry companion how much you love them by keeping them out of harm’s way.

If your pet goes missing, immediately contact your local animal control and shelters.

If your pet goes missing, immediately contact your local animal control and shelters.

Follow these 5 important tips to protect your pet from theft:

    1. At home, keep your pets supervised at all times. Think twice before letting your cat roam freely around the neighborhood or tying your pup to the tree in your front yard.
    2. Running an errand? Leave your pet at home. Although walking your dog while tackling your daily chores may seem like you’re accomplishing double-duty, the reality is that it only takes a few seconds for a dog-napper to take off with your pet.
    3. Follow the same rules for pets of all breeds and sizes. Although purebreds and small dogs tend to be the most desirable to a thief, big friendly dogs or mixed breeds can be just as easily lured into a get-away car waiting nearby.
    4. Spay or neuter your pet. February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month and ARL has been sharing the many health and behavioral benefits of the low-risk procedure. Another perk? Spayed or neutered pets are much less desirable to thieves, since they can’t be bred.
    5. Microchip your pet. It only takes a second for a thief to remove your pet’s collar, making them very difficult to identify should they turn up at an animal shelter or hospital. Quick and painless, microchipping your pet is extremely important to ensure that you and your pet are reunited.

If you find yourself in a situation where you think your pet was stolen:

    • Immediately file a report with your local police department and animal control.
    • Contact your pet’s microchip company, as well as local animal shelters and hospitals to see if your pet has turned up.
    • Post fliers around your neighborhood, especially in public spaces and businesses, with your pet’s photo, name, breed(s), color, weight and any distinguishing characteristics.
    • If you offer a reward, ask for a very detailed description of your pet and how they came into that person’s possession. If you suspect that you are being scammed, call the police.
    • Monitor newspaper ads and online postings to look for any that might fit your pet’s description.

PREVENT PET THEFT BEFORE IT HAPPENSReport any suspicious activity, or animal cruelty and neglect to ARL’s Law Enforcement team.


Spread the Love—Join the ARL’s Champions Circle

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

Animals 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.

Monthly giving matters

Champions Circle 2021 Symbolic Gifts

Monthly giving is a convenient, affordable, and efficient way for you to make a difference in the lives of animals in our community.

    • 60% of ARL’s funding arrives during the last quarter of the calendar year, yet animals need help every day.
    • Spreading out your donation through the year makes your giving budget work harder to create an even bigger impact for animals.
    • Monthly support from Champions Circle members allows ARL to plan for the future, as well as respond to animals when they need it most.

Champions Circle members’ on-going generosity provides much needed support for animals in need, including:

    • Emergency rescue, anti-cruelty efforts, and advocacy to protect them.
    • High-quality, veterinary care to keep them healthy.
    • Shelter and adoption services to find them loving homes.
    • Community-based services to keep pets with the people who love them.

If you’re interested in joining this dedicated group, here’s how:

Use our secure online form or call Derek at (617) 226-5662 to set up your gift over the phone.


Thank you for being a Champion for animals in need, and thank you for Spreading the Love!

If you would prefer to make your monthly gift by check, please contact Derek at (617) 226-5662 or click here to send an email request


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.


        It’s Wicked Cold! ARL Reminds Pet Owners to Protect Animals from the chill

        Winter is finally here in New England, and with the first cold snap upon us, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) reminds pet owners to take cold-weather precautions to protect pets — frigid conditions can endanger the well-being, safety, and the lives of the pets we love.

        Here are some things to keep in mind not just for this arctic blast, but for the remainder of winter:
        Prepare your dog for the elements. If you have a longer coat dog, let it grow out for the winter; it will provide warmth and protection from the cold. For shorter coat dogs, sweaters, coats and booties can go a long way to protect your pooch.

        1. Wipe off your dog’s paws and stomach. Sidewalks are treated with a number of chemicals. These chemicals can irritate your dog’s paws, and can be poisonous if ingested. When coming in from the cold, clean and dry your dog’s stomach to keep them healthy!
        2. Keep outdoor trips quick. Bathroom breaks or walks, keep it short and sweet and keep your pets indoors as much as possible.
        3. Never leave your dog alone in a cold car. Many Massachusetts residents are aware that it’s illegal to keep an animal in a hot car, under the same law it’s ALSO illegal to keep your animal in a cold car (Ma. Ch. 140, Section 174F. (a) A person shall not confine an animal in a motor vehicle in a manner that could reasonably be expected to threaten the health of the animal due to exposure to extreme heat or cold). When going out, leave your animals at home.
        4. Pay attention to your pet’s grooming and health. An animal with a matted coat cannot keep him or herself warm! Long-haired pets especially during heavy periods of shedding, need extra help maintaining a healthy coat. Senior pets also suffer from increased arthritis pain in the cold, so check with your veterinarian on how to keep your pet comfortable.
        5. Check under the hood. Cats love to warm up underneath the hood of a car, as the residual heat from the engine burns off. Unfortunately, this method of warming up can have dangerous consequences, such as severe burns and other grave injuries. Always pound on the hood of your vehicle and do a quick visual check before starting the engine.

        Bottom line, if it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s also too cold for your pet to be outside.

        For more winter weather pet safety tips, please visit www.arlboston.org/winter-pet-health


        ARL Shelter Medicine Provides Life-Saving Surgery for Surrendered Cat

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

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

        Tommy Girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

        You Make This Important Work Possible

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

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

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


        ARL Assists Weymouth PD to Rescue 31 Dogs from Overcrowding Situation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Your emergency gift today can support:

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

        I want to help button


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

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

        ACO of the Year Katelyn Spencer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        From those who nominated her:

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