inside the Animal Rescue League of Boston


Little Brown Dogs!

Late in July, a dog was brought to the shelter from a rough situation. She was skinny, heavily pregnant, and distrustful of men. One morning, after being at the league for a few days, she began to give birth. Around mid-afternoon she had six puppies; little did we know then but she was only halfway done!

With 12 puppies in the shelter, everyone chipped in. One person would stay behind to clean her kennel (and count puppies!) while someone else would take Lacey out for some fresh air and time away from the kids. We changed her bedding several times a day and helped make sure all the puppies were nursing. But as closely as we watched the new family, we knew that the best place for them to mature before they could be adopted would be a home.

But who would be willing foster 12 newborn puppies and their 70 pound mother?

Enter Alana, a staff member at the league who also happens to run her own rescue.

1. Please introduce yourself.

Hi everyone, my name is Alana Mahoney and I am an Animal Care and Adoption Agent at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. I have a 4 year old SATO dog, and a 9 year old dachshund/pit bull mix as well as a 9 year old Oldenburg/thoroughbred horse and a 5 year old Thoroughbred horse from the racetrack.

2. What was it like fostering 12 puppies at once?

The first week or so was easy because Lacey took care of them, but once I started bottle feeding them 4 times a day to help Lacey out I was up with them from 6am to 11pm. They just kept getting cuter and cuter so it wasn’t hard to spend time with them!

3. What was a typical day like?

We split the day up into 4 shifts. I was up with them at 6am to do their first romp in the yard with Lacey, so they would be tired enough for me to go to work. Then I sanitized their kennel – boy can puppies poop! – and fed them. For weeks 4-6 they were eating food from the blender, before that they were bottle fed 4 times a day, and they were FINALLY eating solid food for weeks 7-8. I was lucky enough to have my boyfriend around able to do the mid-day shift, and then I took care of them after the work day. Afternoons were spent socializing and playing and they typically went to bed around 11pm

4. Do the puppies have very different personalities?

Around 6 weeks they really started becoming little individuals. Uno was this sweet little princess with people, but had a Napoleon complex with the other dogs (she was the runt), while Cuatro liked to explore and then check in every so often. Cinco and Once were very active, while Nueve and Diez preferred to snuggle. Dos and Siete were the social butterflies of the group and loved giving kisses. Tres was the escape artist and loved to play with his mom. Seis was this little gentle soul who loved napping in your lap. Ocho took right after her mother and followed Lacey everywhere. Doce was the pretty girl of the group and looked more like a hound than the brindle coloring of her siblings.

5. What was the adoption process like? Was it easy to find homes?

Before I started at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, I ran a rescue group called The Pet Union Project, Incorporated out of my home. My managers were nice enough to let me put the puppies up on my old website and have potential adopters come to my house, so that the puppies wouldn’t have to go back into the shelter.

6. How has Lacey’s personality developed since you’ve been fostering her?

At first she was protective of her puppies, but once she got to know me she would let me bottle feed a puppy while she nursed the other puppies right next to me. It was very cool! She is one of the most affectionate dogs I have ever met and is very loyal. She constantly wants pats and is very smart.

7. Can you tell us a little about Lacey, and what kind of home she would do best in?

Lacey would prefer an adult home with dog experience. She is one of those dogs that will sleep and snuggle if you want, but will also go for a hike if that’s what you want to do. I think she would prefer the suburbs to city living. She could even go home with another dog – she has met dogs of all shapes and sizes.

8. What kind of dogs are they, anyway?

I did a Wisdom Panel test on Lacey and she came back 12.5% Australian shepherd and 12.5% bull mastiff. 75% total mutt! She weighs in at 70lbs and is 2 years old.

9. Would you foster a littler of puppies again?

Of course! Anything less than 12 will be a piece of cake!

Thanks Alana! We are all indebted to you for your hard work helping this family make it though a tough time. All of your hours of bottle feeding, cleaning, and loving these dogs will be forever appreciated by us, the adoptive families, and each of the doggies. They have a happy ending because of your large heart and hard work.

Please keep in mind that while all the puppies have been adopted, Lacey still needs a loving forever home. Lacey is still being fostered by Alana. If you feel like Lacey would be a good addition to your family, call the ARL to set up an appointment to meet her!


Get the Facts: Heartworm

Heartworm is easy to prevent and hard to treat. Once considered a disease that only affected animals in the southern states, heartworm has proven itself to be a global disease which, left untreated, can be deadly for your companion animal. Treatment can be dangerous (and expensive), but prevention is both affordable and effective.

We have a dog at the shelter currently which is heartworm positive, so heartworm prevention hits close to home at the League. To learn more about it, I asked our shelter vet to give us the basics.

1. Please introduce yourself!

My name is Erin Doyle and I am the shelter veterinarian for the Boston shelter at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. I’ve been with the ARL since October 2007. My husband, daughter and I have two cats, Min and Edward. Both have been strays that were brought into clinics that I’ve worked at. Min is a 10 year old SF tortie and Edward is a grey 5 year old NM.

2. What exactly is heartworm?

Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries. It can affect many different mammals, including dogs, cats and ferrets.

3. How is heartworm contracted?

Heartworm is contracted via a bite from an infected mosquito.

4. Which dogs are at risk?

All dogs are at risk. Heartworm is more prevalent in the southern United States so dogs that are transported up from the south have the highest risk of being infected. However, it is very much present in the Northeast as well, and any dog, even a dog that is mostly indoors, is at risk of contracting heartworm disease without appropriate prevention.

5. Is it easy to prevent?

Heartworm is very easy to prevent with a monthly preventative such as Heartgard or Interceptor. Most veterinarians recommend giving these preventatives once monthly all year round.

6. How is it treated?

To kill the adult heartworms, three injections of a medication called immiticide is administered. These injections are given deep in the muscle on the back. The first injection is given, followed a month later by the second two injections which are given 24 hours apart. It is very important during the month following each treatment to keep the dog as quiet as possible to minimize complications.

7. Would you ever choose to not treat a dog who is heartworm positive?

As the adult worms are killed, there can be significant inflammation in the pulmonary arteries. In the worst case scenario, this can cause blood clots. Because there is significant risk associated with heartworm treatment, sometimes the decision is made not to treat dogs who are elderly or have significant additional underlying medical concerns. Heartworm treatment is also very expensive, so is sometimes cost prohibitive for some dog owners.

8. What should you expect when living with a positive dog?

For dogs that undergo treatment, the majority do well with exercise restriction the first month following treatment as described above. These dogs can then go on to live normal lives. If a dog with heartworm disease goes untreated, they will eventually develop heart failure, although the time course in which this occurs will vary quite significantly between dogs.

9. Anything else you’d like to add?

As mentioned above, heartworm disease can affect cats and ferrets. Prevalence and prevention recommendations for cats, as well as treatment options vary quite differently from dogs and are somewhat debated in the veterinary profession, and are perhaps a topic for another time!

Silly is an energetic and happy 3 year old hound mix. He is sweet and wiggly around people he likes but he can be very nervous around strangers and children. Silly loves other dogs and attends doggie playgroup daily here at the shelter. Though Silly can get…well.. silly, he knows sit on command and loves to be pet by his favorite people. He is currently being treated for his heartworm and would go home with a new family as a foster-to-adopt until he completes his treatment.

Annie is a sweet and gentle heartworm positive 9 year old German Shepherd who spent a few weeks with us at the League. She was found lost in a shipyard in Quincy and in dire need of medical care. After treatment and love at the shelter, she just found her forever home this weekend. Congrats to Annie and her new family, and thanks to them for being willing to open their home to a heartworm positive dog.

Minnie’s Story

We are often telling adopters animals have no time limit at the League. While some animals are in and out of the shelter, off to their happily ever after in just a few days, it can take longer to find the right match for others.

Meet Minnie. She’s a feisty one-eyed pekingese who just found her “ever after” while in the care of her foster mom. We send lots of animals off to foster before adoption, but Minnie’s story is exceptional.

Minnie was in foster care for 16 months.

She was featured on our website, brought up to shelter visitors by staff, and even had her likeness painted on the door to our adoption center. She was a difficult adoption, but the League was continually trying to find creative ways to get her adopted.

Originally I was asked to take Minnie in to my home for a couple of weeks,” said Judy, her foster mom, “to assess her temperament and behavior in a home environment. When she first came home with me she was quite aggressive and would lash out at people without warning. The aggression combined with only having one eye and very limited sight in the remaining eye did not help in making her a great candidate for adoption. I knew the first week she was going to be with me longer than a few weeks as she would not do well in the shelter environment and she was going to need a serious change in behavior if she was going to find a permanent home.”

Judy recalls that everyone began to think that Minnie had found her permanent home in the guise of Judy’s foster home, but Judy never gave up hope. She was prepared for the long haul but knew Minnie would find her match sooner or later.

Potential adopters came and went. Judy knew what she was looking for: a single woman with not a lot of visitors to her home and previous experience with the breed. Judy admitted to me that this was a tall order, but then said, “I’m an optimist.”

Then, after 16 months in foster care, Minnie’s perfect match showed up.

“To give the pairing the best opportunity for success I took the trip to cape cod so the meeting could take place in her potential new owner’s home and not at the shelter. I knew the minute I met Edna it was going to work. She was happy to follow my instructions in her interactions with Minnie and was not put off by Minnie’s seeming indifference. When her new owner said she wasn’t worried and they just needed to get to know each other followed by ‘when she realizes I am the only one she has she’ll come around’ I could tell Minnie had met her match.”

Minnie can now officially join the ranks of the Shelter Alumni after over a year up for adoption. We are so happy for Edna and Minnie, and know that they are at the beginning of a wonderful life together.

Though we are celebrating Minnie and Edna, I had to wonder how Judy might be feeling after seeing her foster dog finally go home. I asked her what the adoption has been like for her.

“So many people have offered me sympathy ‘knowing how hard it must have been for me to give Minnie up.’ It was not sad for me at all. I love Minnie and treated her as my own but always knew she would eventually find the right home. How can I be sad when she is making this woman so happy to have a canine companion again after losing her last Peke? The placement was a win/win situation for both Minnie and her new owner. I know after living with Minnie for so long that her new owner is getting a loving, loyal, amusing and intelligent companion. I couldn’t be more happy.”

Congrats Edna and Minnie, and thank you to Judy for selflessly giving so much time and love to Minnie. You can still see Minnie’s painted portrait on our doors, with a newly-added “adopted” banner taped beneath.

Photographs kindly provided by Tracy Powell.

Splinter goes home

Congrats to little Splinter who made it to her forever home this month! Splinter is a very cute kitten that the staff at the league loved to cuddle up with behind the desk during quiet moments. She went home with two lovely ladies who are super excited to see her grow and develop into the beautiful cat she’ll become.

Her foster mom reported that she “will happily chase thrown objects or twitching strings and loves to pursue small balls and toys on her own. When not performing such amusing antics she just adores being stroked and tickled, especially around her chin and ears.”

Thanks to her foster family for getting her ready for the rest of her life! And congrats to her adopters (below)!

Top photo courtesy of Anne and Alan, Splinter’s foster parents

Annie, The Sweet and Gentle Shepherd

Annie is a wonderfully sweet and gentle 9 year old German Shepherd that was found wandering a shipyard in Quincy. She was very skinny and needed medical care when she was brought in to the shelter. We soon found out that Annie is very mild-mannered, and the staff and volunteers at the League love walking her and giving her her favorite treat: hotdogs! She’s definitely a favorite here at 10 Chandler Street. She goes out to playgroup every day and gets along well with other dogs, and would do well in a family home, too.

Annie is now ready adoption, but she is still in need of medical care. She is heartworm positive, and while she is receiving treatment here, it would be best for her to continue it in a nice, comfortable and quiet home. Any serious adopter would be able to speak with our vet about Annie’s future medical needs. Come down to the League today to meet this wonderful girl!

A Dog Called Wanda

Meet Wanda, a little cattle dog mix with with a huge fan club!

Wanda was found in New Mexico at a Catholic Mission on a reservation. She was abandoned, very hungry, and in need of medical care. A kind woman decided to do what she could for her and contacted a local shelter. When she found out that animals were destroyed if unclaimed after 5 days, she took Wanda in as her own. She couldn’t stand the thought of this little sweetheart missing out on the life she deserves.

She spent hundreds of dollars getting Wanda the medical care she needed, and then traveled hundreds of miles with her back to Boston, Massachusetts. Though she wanted to keep Wanda for herself, she couldn’t manage it with two dogs of her own. With a hopeful heart she surrendered Wanda to the League knowing she would find a loving home and get her shot at a happy life.

As soon as Wanda arrived, the shelter was abuzz. “Have you seen the new cattle dog? She’s amazing!”

Wanda has won over every heart at the League. She is playful, friendly, and very intelligent. She’s got a big-dog attitude in a small-dog body and loves to please her human companions.

“Wanda would be a great flyball dog!” shelter manager Marianne Gasbarro said while passing her on a walk. “Or dog agility!” Wanda would be the perfect dog to participate in all sorts of dog sports.

Wanda’s adoption is pending, but we know no matter what happens she’s going to make someone very, very happy. We’re so pleased we got to be a part of Wanda’s life.


If you’ve ever considered adding a parrot to your family but have been hesitant of their size, you should head over to the League and take a look at Loki.

Loki is an 8 year old Hahn’s Macaw, which is the smallest bird in the macaw family at about 12″ in length. Another very similar species is the Noble Macaw, and both the Hahn’s and the Noble are sometimes referred to as Red-shouldered Macaws or Mini Macaws.

Loki can talk a little but doesn’t enunciate very well. Parrots are very smart, however, and a willing owner could train him to learn more commands help expand his vocabulary. Parrots have an intelligence level similar to that of a toddler, and they can get in the same kinds of trouble, too! Hahn’s Macaws have an expected lifespan of 20-40 years, so they are a lifelong commitment.

Hahn’s Macaws have the ability to bond with more than one person, so they have the potential to make great family pets. They are smart, trainable, and quite humorous as well; you never be bored with a parrot in the house.

Loki’s ideal new home would be:
-Accepting of the natural, loud calls and noises that parrots make daily
-Willing to provide a healthy and varied diet
-Willing to keep his cage and play areas clean on a daily basis
-Able to let Loki out of his cage for several hours of playtime and interaction a day
-Willing to provide lots of toys for Loki to chew on
-Willing to find an Avian vet to use for regular check-ups
-Does not have small children or very active cats or dogs
-Previous exotic bird experience is a plus!