"Prosperity always inflates the imprudent, and worldly peace weakens the vigor of the soul." - Peter Abelard

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wanted: A Home

This story was originally published on the front page (!) of the June 30th issue of The Dedham Transcript. It was co-written with Tyler Baldwin, a fellow intern at GHMNE.

The Dedham branch of the Animal Rescue League of Boston is stressing the needs for cat adoptions before it undergoes renovations. There are currently 18 cats, including this one, ready for a new home. Photo by Tyler Baldwin.

“These last two weeks have been really slow,” Lisa Lagos, branch manager said on a recent Tuesday afternoon, “Now is the time we really need (foster parents).”

In mid-July the Pine Street facility will undergo a $2.7 million-facelift. During this time, Lagos said, the animal storage capacity will be cut in half.

 The building will be closed during renovations, but the center will remain functional. Animals ready for adoption will be transferred to customized trailers in Dedham, and surrender animals will go to the shelter’s headquarters in Boston, according to Jennifer Wooliscroft, director of communications for the league.

The shelter is currently a temporary home for 18 cats, seven dogs, two guinea pigs, one pig, one horse, and one parrot. Some animals that aren’t adopted will be sent to other shelters, a process, Lagos said, the shelter would like to avoid. Others will be moved to a 25-foot by 60-foot trailer, where space will be limited.

“Adopting will help us have a much smoother transition to our new home. Most of the animals that are left have been here the longest; they are our ‘lifers.’ They need a home the most,” Ashley Arseneau, livestock liaison for the branch, said.

Arseneau has been working with the Animal Rescue League for 6 years. She said in that time she’s experienced may different cases.

 “For me, the best part of the job is when we get law enforcement cases,” she said. “These are severely neglected animals, skin and bones, and we run this re-feeding program to get them nourished. It is a 24-hour shift, and I love doing that and then finding them homes.”

Lagos joined the league right out of college 17 years ago. She said her work is, “really meaningful. There’s a sense of satisfaction.”

The Dedham shelter is currently experiencing what Lagos described as the “summer doldrums,” the recent roadwork and construction detours on Dedham’s streets has kept many prospective adopters away.

Despite the lull in business, the facility buzzed with activity last Tuesday afternoon. Several families browsed the building’s cat wing, while others strolled about the kennel, all amidst the noise of more than 25 animals that inhabit the small building.

Outside is open and quiet. A large red barn, spacious livestock enclosures, and a wooded pet cemetery occupy a hilltop along with the central facility and offices. Come mid-July, the area will be transformed into a construction zone and the remaining animals will be relocated.

“How many people have brought us a stray cat or dog, and we helped you out? Please come full circle and help us out now by adopting in our time of need,” said Beth Finn, assistant manager of the branch. She’s been with the league for almost 10 years. “If people adopt them out, then we can take them in. It’s contingent upon our public,” added Lagos.

The facility at 238 Pine St. is open for pet adoptions from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Potential adopters must fill out an application and interview with staff member before bringing the pet home. Necessary paperwork and information can be found at www.arlboston.org.

Photo by Tyler Baldwin.

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