All About Dogs 2018



Held: Sunday, June 24, 2018 at Agnes Varis Campus Center & Elmes Café, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, N. Grafton MA
In conjunction with this session, MAC conducted a survey about shelter dogs. Check out the results MAC dogs survey summary 2018
  • What do we know about our changing dog population?
  • How do we define ‘saved’?
  • How do we help our most behaviorally vulnerable dog population?”


The Future as it Relates to Dogs – Sheryl Blancato, President of Second Chance Animal Services
Sheryl spoke about where we are with dogs in Massachusetts, where she thinks we are going, and what Second Chance’s plans are relative to what we know about changing dog populations in our state. The Future of Dogs in New England MAC 2018

Defining Saved: A look at the law, good intentions, and rescue – Melissa McCue McGrath, CPDT, KA.
With an increase in sites like Petfinder and Adoptapet, more and more people are acquiring their dogs in unconventional ways. Some go to the shelter while others go to a mall parking lot to get their newly adopted dog off a transport truck. While there is no actual study on preand post-transport behavior there are behaviors dog trainers and other professionals are reporting with increased frequency. Is there a link connecting how dogs are transported or selected for transport and the likelihood of a dog successfully integrating into a home? How much does our fascination with click-and-ship culture affect our pet purchasing decisions? Melissa dissects some troubling issues that are growing in frequency from the perspective of a dog trainer. She lays out some solutions that we can all implement so we can truly help these dogs by identifying responsible rescues and shelters. Most importantly, she asks us all to look at the word “saved”. Melissa McCue-McGrath presentation slides

Melissa also provided resource information. Resources docs MMMcGrath AAD June2018

How Can We Help Fearful Dogs? – Debbie Jacobs, CPDT and CAP2 (Kay Laurence’s program) – author of “A Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog,” spoke about what a shy, fearful or anxious dog goes through when he enters your shelter or foster home. Since stress can impede progress and can even send dogs backwards, Debbie will provide specific take-aways that you can take back to your organization for immediate implementation to enhance the chances of future success for the dogs in your care. Debbie Jacobs presentation AAD June 2018

About Our Speakers

Sheryl Blancato is the founder, Executive Director and President of the Board of Directors of the Second Chance Animal Services in East Brookfield, MA, which started in 1999. Second Chance helps 26,000 pets a year through adoption, low cost high volume spay/neuter, veterinary clinics, community outreach programs, educational programs and a pet food pantry. Second Chance opened the first subsidized veterinary clinic in MA and now has 3 locations in North Brookfield, Springfield and Worcester.

In addition to the adoption center in East Brookfield they have two satellite PetsMart adoption centers in Framingham and Northborough. In 2016 Second Chance opened Almost Home Holding Facility in North Brookfield, which is a New England Transport Hub. They have two mobile adoption and community veterinary vehicles and in 2015 Second Chance was chosen by HSUS to be part of their Pets for Life program in Worcester.

Sheryl has spoken at many local and national conferences and this will be her third time presenting at a MAC meeting. Her speaking engagements have included topics on cat transport, operating community outreach programs such as Pets for Life, sustainable animal sheltering, volunteer engagement, Second Chance programs and services, and other related topics.

Sheryl is an ACOAM Certified Animal Control Officer and is currently the ACO for East Brookfield, having been ACO for other towns over the years. She has been an Animal Inspector since 1999 and is currently the Animal Inspector for the town of East Brookfield and has served in nearby towns in the past.

Sheryl and the Second Chance team have responded to a number of disasters both locally and nationally with the HSUS volunteer rescue team and IFAW rescue teams.

Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA is an author, presenter and professional dog trainer in Metro-Boston. Melissa is the co-Training Director of the New England Dog Training Club, the oldest AKC Obedience Club in the United States, a position she’s proudly held since 2012.

When not writing books or training dogs, Melissa partners up with Dr. Sip Siperstein for the Car Talk F.I.D.O blog, a Car Talk hosted project where Melissa and Dr. Sip tackle reader questions involving pets and travel, typically once a month in the expected style of infotainment that Car Talk readers and fans have loved over a span of literal decades.

Her first book, Considerations for the City Dog, was inspired by a level five dog bite in her city of Somerville. When Rocco, a bull mastiff broke out of his apartment on Halloween night and attacked a man and his German shepherd, resulting in both needing medical attention, everyone seemed to come out of the woodwork. Public opinion met professional experience head on and because Rocco was a mastiff, there was an element of breed specific discussion involved in the case. During the case, lawyers and witnesses used language in the zeitgeist that didn’t line up with language professionals would use discussing the case. It was then that Melissa realized that her students understand the language of dog training and living with dogs very differently than the professionals that help them navigate life with their dogs. It was then that she created a handbook specifically for urban dog owners, though everyone can benefit from the perspective offered in Considerations. After the book came out, she presented to Raising Canine, The Pet Professional Guild, the Massachusetts Vet Tech Association and M.I.T on how places like Petfinder and Adoptapet have massive loopholes that allow for sick and behaviorally unsound dogs to be sold as rescues, some are puppy mill dogs repackaged as rescues, to unsuspecting families expecting a happy, healthy pet. She is an advocate on banning breed specific legislation, transparency in rescue, and shopping local for family pets regardless of if the pet is a rescue or a pure-bred animal.

More information about Melissa, her classes, books, training philosophy, and more can be found at

Debbie Jacobs, CPDT and CAP2 (Kay Laurence’s program), author of “A Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog.” Debbie has trained and studied with Jean Donaldson in her Academy for Dog Trainers, Bob Bailey and Dr. Susan Friedman. Over the years Debbie has learned about rehabbing a ‘damaged’ dog and shares that information with other scared/fearful/shy dog owners. She is committed to helping people learn about the most effective and humane ways to work with this vulnerable and at-risk population of dogs. Debbie offers home visits, pone consultations and seminars about the most effective and humane ways to work with dogs with fear based behavior challenges. Visit her website at

MAC thanks the following sponsors of All About Dogs:
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)