The Massachusetts Animal Coalition Explores State’s Changing Shelter Dog Population

Upcoming “All About Dogs” to help animal welfare professionals and volunteers support successful adoptions of dogs in need

What do we know about our changing dog population?

How do we define “saved?”

How do we help our most behaviorally vulnerable dog population?

On Sunday, June 24, 2018, the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC) will explore these questions at the All About Dogs educational seminar.

How Is Massachusetts’ Shelter Dog Population Changing?

For over a decade, shelters and rescue groups in Massachusetts have worked together with partners in other regions of the country to bring dogs in need of homes into the state for adoption.

“Whether because of natural disasters or lack of access to affordable spay/neuter services, the population of homeless dogs in other parts of the country often outpaces the resources local organizations have available to help them,” explains Anne Lindsay, founder and president of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC), a non-profit organization leading efforts to care for and protect homeless animals statewide.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, the demand from residents looking to adopt can outstrip the number of dogs that shelters have available.

“The opportunity to find dogs loving homes and have a positive impact on animal homelessness is at the heart of this activity—and why we’ve seen it continue to expand so much in Massachusetts,” says Lindsay.

But physically bringing dogs in need of a home to the people ready to give them one is just one step in the process. Dogs brought into Massachusetts frequently have a long trip from their home state.  They have to adjust to changing surroundings, people, and schedules.

As any pet owner knows, travel, change, and unfamiliarity can be very stressful for an animal.  Just like people, dogs can express fear and stress in response to so many changes happening all at once, and sometimes need extra help when their behavior indicates they are in distress.

According to Lindsay, “Every dog is different, and that’s why as animal welfare professionals we need to make sure we’re ready to respond to the individual needs of the growing number of dogs coming from out-of-state to help them find permanent homes.”

MAC Leading Discussion, Encouraging Collaboration

MAC is currently surveying shelter and rescue organizations to learn more about the changes in their dog populations.

The discussion at All About Dogs will also help shelter and rescue group staff, volunteers, veterinarians, behaviorists, trainers, and animal control officers consider ways to adapt to changes and support dogs with different behavioral needs before and after adoption.

“Our goal is to encourage collaboration among animal welfare professionals and volunteers to respond to this trend,” says Lindsay.

“Shelters and rescue groups often work with limited resources, so the more we can share our knowledge, the more we can help animals in Massachusetts.”

Workshop Program and Speakers

The Future As It Relates to Dogs
Sheryl Blancato, President, Second Chance Animal Services

Sheryl will talk 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.

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 pre- and 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.”

How Can We Help Fearful Dogs?
Debbie Jacobs, CPDT and CAP2 (Kay Laurence’s Program) and Author, A Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog

Debbie will talk 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 bring back to your organization for immediate implementation to enhance the chances of future success for the dogs in your care.

Thank You to the Animal Legal Defense Fund

Thank you to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for sponsoring All About Dogs!

MAC hosts educational workshops three times a year to provide a way for its members to hear from peers, experts, and leading voices on companion animal care and welfare issues.

The support of the ALDF is helping provide this important informational resource to the Massachusetts animal welfare community!

For more information about the benefits of corporate sponsorship, visit