March is Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month!

There’s more than just cats and dogs at ARL

Many people assume that animal care & adoption centers only have cats and dogs, but here at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) we have a knowledgeable staff and are able to accommodate a variety of animals including guinea pigs.

guinea pig

And they are just waiting for to find their perfect match!

If you’d like to adopt a guinea pig (or other small animal) from the ARL, make sure to bring a photo of the cage that your new pet will live in to make sure it’s a good size and shape for a guinea pig.

Just like any other pet, guinea pigs require special care and attention. Familiarizing yourself with their daily and long-term needs before adding one to your family is also an important step in the adoption process.

Learn more about guinea pigs

Guinea pigs can make great companions for both first-time or experienced pet owners, however they require a bit of patience and a gentle hand.

Once they are comfortable with you and their new surroundings, their personalities really shine through!

ADOPT A RESCUE GUINEA PIG MONTH FUN FACT Guinea pigs communicate through a variety of behaviors and sounds. These small animals will make a squealing or whistling sound, for example, to communicate anticipation or excitement–usually before they eat!  Meanwhile, a deep sounding purr indicates your guinea pig is comfortable and content.


ARL Assisting Bridgewater PD Dog Investigation

Providing Forensic Assistance in Breaking Case

Bridgewater Police today release information about two deceased pit bull-type dogs found on Sunday, March 15, by a local resident out walking his dogs.   Both dogs had wounds on different parts of their bodies that could be consistent with dog fighting, though their origin has not yet been confirmed.

The Police turned to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL)  for forensic assistance to determine potential causes of the wounds.  The ARL will provide findings from the necropsy of the two dogs to the Bridgewater Police within the next several days.

In the meantime, anyone with information about this case should immediately contact the Bridgewater Police Department at (508) 697-6118.

SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING – Because 4 out of 5 cases of animal cruelty go undiscovered, the public plays a critical role in prevention.  Thank you to the concerned citizen who contacted police after finding the two deceased dogs.

You saw something.  You said something.  And it made a difference in your community.


Dog Rescue – Pulled from Icy Stream

ARL Rescue Team on the scene to help

Thanks to fast efforts from his caregiver, park rangers, and the ARL’s rescue services team, a family dog is warming up after he realized a little too late that it wasn’t a good day for a swim.

Energized by the warmer temperatures and sun as he was playing at West Roxbury’s Millennium Park on Tuesday afternoon, the happy-go-lucky dog decided to take a dip in the inviting stream running on the outskirts of the park.

icy dog rescue after

ARL senior rescue technician Danielle Genter gave the chilly dog a towel rub down after his rescue from a stream.

After one pass across the stream, he decided that the water was just a little too cold for his liking.  Unfortunately, an icy shelf stood between him and dry land, and he seemed none to eager to swim back across.  Searchers found him hanging on the icy shelf waiting for help.

Working alongside the dog’s caregiver, Boston Park Rangers, and the Boston Police, senior rescue technician Danielle Genter extended a catch-pole across the narrow stream to grab hold of the dog.

The grateful pup got the picture and allowed Danielle to move him off the ice, back across the water, and on to solid ground.  He hopped right in to the awaiting warm vehicle to get a towel rub down.

The dog appears to be doing well and our rescue team recommended he get a check-up with his veterinarian to make sure all was well.

With fluctuating temperatures, the snow and ice are definitely starting to melt! While this is a happy sign that Spring is just around the corner, it’s also a sign to stay alert with your pet.

Keep your dog on a leash and if you’re walking near “frozen” ponds, lakes, or streams, remember ice is not always uniformly thick or stable.  In addition to the dangers of falling through thin ice, also remember dogs don’t consider the water temperature before bounding in for a swim.  For more winter pet health and safety tips, visit arlboston.org/winter-pet-health

SPECIAL THANKS to Boston Park Ranger Sergeant Al Hurd and the Boston Police Department who provided help and assistance to our rescue team today!

It’s Hip to Snip! Helping Feral Cats in Greater Boston

How Spaying and Neutering Feral Cats Prevents Animal Homelessness

Do you know a “neighborhood cat?” Maybe there’s a familiar feline around the city streets near your work or around your block? One that you see roaming around abandoned buildings, restaurants or dumpsters?

Often these cats are known as “feral.”  They have either lived for an extended period of time with little or no human contact or away from human contact long enough to revert to a wild state.  As a result, they cannot easily adapt back to living indoors with people as pets.

feral cat clinic volunteer

A volunteer checks on a feral cat waking up from spay/neuter surgery during a Fall ARL Fix-A-Feral clinic

Sometimes these cats have been abandoned or put outside by previous owners.  Other times they are the offspring of stray or other feral cats.

While ferals tend to avoid human contact because they aren’t properly socialized, they often live in cat colonies in close proximity to humans.  Especially during the winter when food supplies can be scarce, they frequently rely on people to provide them with food.  Dedicated volunteers around the state feed, monitor, and support many – but not all – colonies.

“There are several feral cat colonies all around Massachusetts,” says Maryann Regan, the ARL’s director of shelter operations. “These colonies grow in numbers when owned cats who are not spayed or neutered are put outdoors or abandoned.  Their offspring have offspring, the cycle continues, and the number of feral cats grows.”

Spaying and neutering feral cats is an important part of solving the problem of animal homelessness.

According to Maryann, “studies have shown that humanely trapping, spaying/neutering, and releasing–or what people in animal welfare call ‘TNR’–feral cats back to the colonies where they have been living is one of the most effective ways to decrease the number of homeless animals in our community.”

feral cat friendly

The ARL evaluates all cats during the clinic to find “friendlies,” stray cats who could re-adjust to living with people as pets.

Thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor in 2013, the ARL launched Fix-a-Feral clinics to spay and neuter feral cats in Greater Boston.   During the clinics, cats receive a behavioral screening to identify any “friendlies,” stray cats who have more recently joined a colony.  With support from our shelter staff, the friendlies have a very good chance of getting used to living indoors with people again and finding a new home.

In addition to getting spayed or neutered, cats going through the clinic also receive vaccines and other medical attention as necessary.

In 2014, over 250 feral cats in the greater Boston area came through our TNR clinics.  Our Spay Waggin’ also spays and neuters feral cats on the South Shore and Cape Cod, where sizable colonies also exist.

This winter has been especially hard on feral cats in our community, and you can help!

Fun Fact: In one year, an unspayed female cat can have as many as 6 litters of kittens. Spay/neuter efforts for feral animals not only decrease the number of homeless animals born each year, but they also reduce or eliminate unwanted “nuisance” behaviors such as fighting, yowling, and spraying. 

ARL Joins City of Boston Animal Control Commission

Maryann Regan to serve on important animal welfare group

Late last week, Maryann Regan, the ARL’s Director of Shelter Operations, received a letter announcing her appointment by the Mayor to the City of Boston’s Animal Control Commission. The Mayor convened the commission to ensure continued forward progress on animal care and control in the City.

After bringing concerning conditions at the Boston Animal Control facility in Roslindale to the attention of Mayor Walsh this summer, the ARL has continued to support the City’s reform efforts.

Maryann Regan signing

Maryann Regan signing after taking the Oath of Office

Yesterday, we followed Maryann to Boston City Hall where she completed the swearing in process. We’re happy to announce Maryann along with eight others are now officially members of the Animal Control Commission!

Members of the Animal Control Commission will meet at least once a month to coordinate the work of public and private agencies concerned with animal care, protection, and control. They will also establish and maintain a spay and neuter clinic within the city. Learn more about the Animal Control Commission.

A special thank you to City Clerk Maureen Feeney and everyone at the Boston City Hall for graciously welcoming the ARL!


Thank You Thursday – Boston City Council

Councilman Matt O’Malley Introduces World Spay Day Resolution

HUGE THANKS to Councilman Matt O’Malley for introducing a resolution to Boston City Council acknowledging World Spay Day in Boston!

boston city council omalley

Before the Boston City Council convened, Councilman Matt O’Malley took a pre-meeting with Jenny Lee, an adorable adoptable dog our friends at the MSPCA brought to celebrate the occasion.

World Spay Day is celebrated on the last Tuesday of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month – also known as February – to raise awareness and increase spay/neuter rates among owned, stray, and feral cats and dogs.

Councilman O’Malley invited representatives from the ARL, Boston Animal Control, and MSPCA to join him on the podium as he introduced the resolution.  He highlighted the importance of spay and neuter efforts to prevent animal homelessness, as well as the work the ARL and MSPCA do make spay/neuter affordable and accessible to Boston residents.

Thank you to the entire Boston City Council for supporting efforts to increase spay and neuter rates!

Need more information about why It’s Hip to Snip? The ARL is deeply committed to preventing animal homelessness from happening in the first place.  Because so many of the animals in shelters come from unplanned litters of puppies and kittens, increasing spay and neuter rates is critical to solving the problem.  Learn more at arlboston.org/spay-neuter

Your Spay/Neuter and Winter Pet Health Questions, Answered

Dr. Schettino’s Answers to Spay/Neuter and Winter Pet Health Questions from Yesterday’s Twitter Chat

Thank you to all who participated in and submitted questions to yesterday’s World Spay Day twitter chat with the Dr. Edward Schettino.

In case you missed it, you can see a transcript of the conversation below.01-11-14 Dr Schettino

Introduction: @ARLBostonRescue: Welcome to the #ARLAskaVet twitter chat! @ARLDrS will take your Qs re: #spayneuter and winter pet health now!

Q: How old does my puppy need to be before she can be spayed? #arlaskavet
A: Dogs can be spayed and neutered as early as 12 weeks. Checking with your vet for the optimal age is best. #arlaskavet


Q: What would you say are the most common reasons people do not spay or neuter their pets? #arlaskavet
A: Great question: People want to have puppies or kittens from their pet, people want their family to witness the birth.
A: It is too expensive, they think their pet will “feel” less male or female; they don’t want their pet to get fat #arlaskavet


Q: Are there non-surgical options for spay or neuter? Do you ever recommend them? #arlaskavet
A: Yes for male dogs, but it is a new procedure and it is not for everyone or every dog. #arlaskavet


Q: @aaaltobelli: How long does the spay/neuter surgery take? @ARLDrS @ARLBoston
A: Neuters typically take 10-20 mins and spays 20-40 mins for the average veterinary #arlaskavet


Q: @pawspluspals: How risky is spay/neuter surgery for animals? #arlaskavet
A: Every surgery has a risk, however it is very minimal. Best to ask your vet about your individual pet #arlaskavet


Q: @ubergirl4: What are some of the health benefits of spaying or neutering your pet? #arlaskavet
A: Male dogs that are neutered, their risk of testicular cancer is eliminatedRisk of mammary gland cancer is severally reduced 4 spayed pets before their first heat cycle #arlaskavet


Q: My dog doesn’t like them, but is it better for him to wear booties with all salt on the ground? #arlaskavet
A: Some dogs won’t walk w booties, if your dog is 100% against them just wash their feet before coming inside #arlaskavet


Q: @TinyTobyTweets: Can rabbits and guinea pigs be spayed/neutered as well? #ARLAskaVet
A: Great question! Yes to all!!! Female rabbits 100% should be spayed to prevent ovarian cancer #arlaskavet


Q: Should I be concerned my cat’s weight or personality will change after he is neutered? #arlaskavet
A: No – cats gain weight because they eat too much and exercise too little.. just like us! #arlaskavet


Q: Can dogs and cats get frostbite? #arlaskavet
A: Yes, especially on their ears and paws. Just limit the amount of time outside on those very cold days (like today) #arlaskavet


Q: It’s shedding season for my cat! What do you recommend to prevent hairballs? He hates brushing. #arlaskavet
A: Brushing is best! However, it can take some time 4 your cat 2 get used 2 this, go slow & respect their time limits #arlaskavet


Q: @leebren9: Are there additional risks in spaying an 8yr dog? #ARLAskaVet #SpayNeuter
A: Risks increase as your pet gets older it’s never 2 late 2 spay your dog, benefits outweigh the risks. #arlaskavet


Q: @amibowen723: Where can pet owners find out about affordable spay/neuter options in MA? #ARLAskaVet
A: Check out: https://www.arlboston.org/services/spay-waggin/ and http://massanimalcoalition.com/resources/spay-neuter/ … #arlaskavet


Q: @aaaltobelli: Can you spay a dog in heat? #ARLAskAvet
A: Yes you can spay a dog in heat, although it is best to wait until their heat cycle is over #arlaskavet @aaaltobelli


Q: Will a coat keep my dog warmer in the winter? Is it necessary? #arlaskavet
A: Yes it can but it is not necessary. Depending on your dog it can help although not all dogs are fans #arlaskavet


Q: Will my dog/cat be in a lot of pain from their spay/neuter surgery? #arlaskavet
A: It depends on your pet, most pets recover within 12-24 hours. The problem is keeping them rested! #arlaskavet


Q: On average, how long does it take a dog or cat to recover from spay/neuter surgery? #arlaskavet
A: Routine dental care is best. Talk to your vet, if you don’t brush regularly it may be time for a cleaning! #arlaskavet


Q: Can a dog or cat be spayed or neutered after they’ve had a litter? #arlaskavet
A: Yes .. it is never too late to spay or neuter your pet!! #arlaskavet


Q: @AmandaLarosee: Will a male neutered cat still spray? #ARLAskaVet
A: It is best 2 neuter your cat before they start 2 prevent this behavior. If they started- neutering will help #arlaskavet

Winter Weather Animal Rescues

ARL’s Rescue Services Team On the Snowy and Icy Scene

winter animal rescue duck

Many wild birds like this goose spotted behind a store in Quincy have had difficulties finding food this winter.

This winter has been rough for everyone in Massachusetts, including our four-footed and winged friends.  Luckily for animals in distress, the ARL’s rescue team has been on the scene to help.

The storms have especially taken their toll on wild birds, including ducks, geese, and swans.  Not only are they turning up in unusual and less-than-safe places such as busy parking lots looking for something to eat and a place to rest, but they are also getting injured.

Just this week alone, the rescue team scooted out on the ice to help an injured goose on the frozen Charles River in Waltham,  assisted a sick swan who had been sitting in the middle of a driveway in Lynn for quite some time, and waded through the icy waters in Gloucester to help a duck entangled in netting.

Other types wildlife have had difficulties, as well.  On Wednesday evening, the team assisted in the rescue of a coyote stuck out on the ice in Quincy.  The team helped move the animal back to shore as his or her nervous mate paced anxiously back and forth.

winter animal rescue netting

The ARL rescue team pulled this duck entangled in netting from the icy ocean waters off Gloucester.

Between the frigid temperatures and snow, stray and feral cats have also been struggling this winter.  One injured stray cat wedged itself behind some boards in Boston covered by a huge snow drift.  The rescue team dug her out and brought her back to our Boston shelter for further care.

After a concerned citizen reported a feral cat had been stuck in a heating vent after snow from the last several storms covered the opening, the City of Boston lent a hand to the rescue team to get through the snow and free the trapped animal.

As a feral cat, he (or she) was not too keen on sticking around to thank his human rescuers, but community members have since spotted him and say he appears to be doing fine.

When a horse barn in Stoughton collapsed from the weight of the weekend’s snow, the ARL rescue team was also on the scene to provide assistance moving horses to new shelter.  Luckily, no horses were injured in the collapse.

winter animal rescue feral cat

The rescue team worked alongside the City of Boston Inspectional Services to remove snow in order to free a feral cat stuck inside a heating vent for over a week.

THANK YOU to all the animal control officers, the City of Boston, and the many kind citizens who are looking out for animals in our community this winter!

YOU CAN HELP TOO!  The ARL doesn’t receive government or public funding to provide rescue services to animals in distress. Make a donation today to ensure domestic animals and wildlife get assistance when they need it most!

Spay/Neuter FAQs, Part II

 ARL’s Dr. Schettino answers to frequently asked spay/neuter questions

Schettino fix a feral

Dr. Schettino “in action” at a recent ARL Fix-a-Feral Clinic, where feral cats in greater Boston are spayed or neutered and given other veterinary care.

When the ARL’s Dr. Schettino, director of veterinary medical services, sat down with us to discuss spay and neuter, he wanted to help pet owners understand why it’s hip to snip!

As Dr. Schettino points out, a large portion of the animals coming to ARL shelters every year come from unplanned or abandoned litters of puppies and kittens.  By increasing spay/neuter rates, you can help prevent pet overpopulation in a very humane way.

In part I of his chat with us, he cut through common myths about spay and neuter.

Read Part I

Today in part II, Dr. Schettino shreds through lingering concerns pet owners may have about having their pet spayed or neuter by answering the frequently asked questions he hears from clients at the ARL’s Boston Veterinary Care clinic and Spay Waggin’.

Here’s what he had to say…..

ARL Blog: What do you say to a pet owner who’s concerned that spay or neuter surgery is painful?

DS: Pain is associated with every surgery.  At the ARL, we use pain medication before, during, and after surgery to make the procedure as pain-free as possible. The majority of dogs and cats are acting 100% normal by the next morning. In fact, the challenging part to the surgery is trying to keep the dog or cat rested when they feel so good.

ARL Blog: Is spay or neuter surgery expensive? What are the local low-cost options/clinics in the area?

DS: Spay/neuter surgeries vary in price depending on location and provider – here’s a link with some great resources – massanimalcoalition.com/resources/spay-neuter. The ARL offers free spay and neuter services for feral cats in greater Boston through our Fix-a-Feral trap-neuter-release clinics. Our Spay Waggin’ provides spay and neuter program created to assist clients in financial need on the South Shore and Cape Cod. You can also check with your local veterinarian.

ARL Blog: At what age should dogs/cats be spayed/neutered?

DS: Many veterinarians now spay and neuter dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age. You should check with your veterinarian about the appropriate time for these procedures. And remember, it’s never too late to spay or neuter your pet!

spay neuter dog

During Spay/Neuter Awareness Month this February, the ARL is raising awareness with the “It’s Hip to Snip” campaign.

ARL Blog: Should pet owners be concerned that their pet’s behaviors will change after the surgery? Will a male dog, for example, be less of a protector?

DS: Your pet’s behavior will not change. A dog’s personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones. It is a dog’s natural instinct to protect the home and family.

ARL Blog: What can people to do help end animal overpopulation?

DS: Spay and neuter your pet! Always talk to family and friends and explain to them the benefits of spay/neuter–tell them it’s hip to snip! Help them understand that this will benefit their pet as well as help prevent animal overpopulation. Additionally, people can donate to their favorite animal welfare charity to help support  spay/neuter efforts.

Join the conversation! On World Spay Day, February 24, World Spay Day, Dr. Schettino and the ARL will host an #ARLAskaVet Twitter chat at 12 PM (EST). Follow the ARL on Twitter @arlboston and submit your questions using the hash tag #ARLAskaVet.

ARL’s Dr. Schettino on Spay/Neuter, Part I

Hosting #ARLAskaVet Twitter Chat on World Spay Day

Dr. Schettino ARL director

Dr. Schettino takes a break with Socks during our interview on the importance of spay/neuter to preventing animal overpopulation.

He’s a man with a mission: to let everyone know it’s hip to snip!  We sat down with the ARL’s Dr. Edward Schettino to discuss the importance of spay/neuter.

As director of veterinary medical services, he works with the ARL’s private veterinary clinic Boston Veterinary Care,  the Spay Waggin’, and shelter veterinary medicine programs. He cut to the chase about why it’s hip to snip and answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the procedures.

In part I of his interview, Dr. Schettino focused on common myths about spaying and neutering.

ARL Blog: Give us the basics – why is it so important to spay and neuter pets?

Dr. Schettino (DS): There are too many cat and dogs in our communities that don’t have homes. If we can increase spay and neuter rates, we can help prevent pet overpopulation. Additionally, it lengthens the life span of our pets, reduces the cost of pet ownership, prevents aggressive behaviors, and offers protection from potentially life-threatening diseases including testicular cancer, breast cancer and uterine infections.

ARL Blog: What are some common myths about spay/neuter that you often hear?

DS: There are many common myths – here are some that I hear often:

I don’t want my male dog or cat to feel like “less of a male.”
Pets don’t have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet’s basic personality.

I want my children/family to see my pets experience the miracle of birth.
Complications can and do occur during the birthing process. Teach children/family members that all life is precious and by spaying and neutering your pet, he/she will lead a healthier, longer life.

It’s better to have one litter before spaying a female pet.
This is false. Females who are spayed before their first heat are typically healthier.

My pet is a purebred and I should breed him/her.
Your pet may be a purebred, but so is at least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters throughout the country. Purebreds and their offspring are no exception and be spayed and neutered as well.

My pet will get fat and lazy.
Pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much and don’t give them enough exercise, not because they are spayed or neutered.

My dog (or cat) is so special. I want a puppy/kitten just like her/him.
Your pet’s puppies or kittens will not be a carbon copy of your pet.

It’s expensive to have my pet spayed
Many low-cost options exist for spay/neuter services. Check out the ARL’s spay/neuter resources to find one in your area.

Read part II of our interview with Dr. Schettino!  He talks about common concerns people have about spay/neuter surgery and its effects on their pet.

Have more questions for Dr. Schettino? On World Spay Day, February 24, World Spay Day, Dr. Schettino and the ARL will host an #ARLAskaVet Twitter chat at 12 PM (EST). Follow the ARL on Twitter @arlboston and submit your questions using the hash tag #ARLAskaVet.