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Not Your Ordinary Shelter

By: Ed Kane

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Stella, a 6-month-old mixed breed puppy, urinated on the rug. The creep that owned her paid a couple of guys in a pool hall to kill her. So they took her out to an alley and stabbed her. Boston police officers fortunately caught the thugs in the act. Stella was also taken to Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, where she was treated and saved.

Understandably, after that she was very scared of people. Jean Webber, then the Boston shelter manager, fell in love with Stella and decided to adopt her. Webber, now the director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), took excellent care of her. Though Stella rightfully has her sensitivities to certain people and situations, she is now a healthy well-adjusted dog. "Our relationship is quite incredible," stated Webber. "She's a very special dog, she has come a long way."

The MSPCA shelter was established in 1868, and through its seven animal shelters across the state, three veterinary hospitals, (including the world renowned Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston), law enforcement services, humane education programs and community-based initiatives, MSPCA serves more than 250,000 animals annually. Its seven shelters find good homes for dogs and cats, as well as other small animals, but its Nevins Farm & Equine Centre finds homes for farm animals including goats, pigs, geese and horses. Its Fondouk Animal Hospital in Fez, Morocco, provides free veterinary care for the livestock of this walled city.

Bones and Sam

About five years ago, Bones and Sam, two cocker spaniel mixed breed pups, were found bloodied and near death in a basement in Boston by MSPCA law enforcement officers. They were taken to Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston and brought back to health by the veterinary staff. They received quite a bit of media attention, which generated letters from potential adopters throughout Massachusetts. One of the letters came from a little boy begging to adopt one of the dogs. Amber, as he renamed her, found a loving family home. She became a beautiful liver-and-white spaniel mix and a smart, affectionate pet. Each year she comes back to the Walk for Animals, an MSPCA fundraiser. At a recent walk, she competed and was awarded "Mutt of the Year."

Pigs, Geese and Horses at Nevins

At Nevins Farm and Equine Centre, in Methuen Mass., on the New Hampshire border, on beautiful rolling hills, farm animals find good farm homes. It's also a "matchmaker" for horses and humans. "Often times the animals at Nevins are abused and neglected ones, brought in by MSPCA law enforcement officers for rehabilitation and adoption," Barbara Castleman, MSPCA Public Relations Director stated proudly. It's a working farm. There are horses, sheep, pigs, goats, ducks and geese. The pigs are the most popular, smart, warm and friendly animals. "For example, one of the pigs, named Samson, more intelligent than the average dog, can toss a piece of food off his nose and catch and eat it," Castleman boasts. One of the programs at Nevins is a summer program for children. Each summer, during four 2-week sessions, about 160 kids come to work and care for the animals. The children learn about kindness and compassion first hand. The summer camp has become so popular that there is a lottery each year for admission.

Goats and Burros in Morocco

MSPCA operates a free-of-charge veterinary hospital in Fez, Morocco, The American Fondouk. It primarily treats beast of burden, including donkeys, burros and oxen, that provide the livelihood to the population of Fez, a walled community. It was started with an endowment from a wealthy Boston woman that had visited the area with her mother many years ago. The woman was appalled at the condition of the animals. When the veterinary hospital first opened, the local people hid their animals. Being afraid of how sickly they were, they thought the hospital would take them away from them. Over the years MSPCA and its veterinary staff were able to show the people that they only wanted to help. Now, every morning as the hospital gates open, there are many people and their animals lined up for treatment and it's totally free. Some MSPCA veterinarians, interns and local people, trained as animal care technicians staff it. "It's a very unique program in that part of the world, and it makes a tremendous difference in the lives of both the animals and the people, because the people really rely on the animals for their survival," stated Castleman.

Not a Common Shelter At All

MSPCA is an independent model (not allied to the ASPCA) of many shelter programs that benefit many animals and people around the world. When in Massachusetts visit one of the seven shelters, the Nevins Farm & Equine Centre, adopt a dog or a pig (only if you live on a farm). You may volunteer at the Nevins Farm, or send a child to the summer camp. In Fez, Morocco, you may visit the Fondouk Veterinary Hospital. MSPCA's President's Fund serves animal causes around the world, such as the Siberian Tiger Project in Russia and Tanzania's Serengeti Project to save suffering lions. MSPCA has also contributed to rescue efforts during natural disasters in the United States and in Japan.

For more info on the MSPCA visit www.mspca.org.

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