Visiting the City of Boston Animal Shelter

Hey guys! So last Saturday, Kelsey and I went on a site-visit to the City of Boston Animal Shelter. We loved it. Great place, with great animals, and some great people.

But here’s the thing about the City of Boston Animal Shelter. The more we talked to the staff, the more we learned about the eye-opening difficulties associated with a public shelter. First off, this shelter was lightly staffed having only a few regular volunteers. With the work they need to do, more hands could only help and the lack of people make their job all the more difficult.

Government funding for animal shelters and organizations is a low priority and places like the City of Boston Animal Shelter have to deal with the repercussions. Staff have to pay out of pocket for things like animal toys and even create make-shift equipment for certain situations. One of the saddest consequences of the lack of funding is what it entails for the animals in the shelter. The government won’t pay for an animal behaviorist to train the strays that come in. That means that dogs who can become adoptable with a bit of behavior training are instead immediately put down without ever getting their deserved second chance.


As we continued our tour, we had the opportunity to meet some of the animals up for adoption. There were actually only four adoptable dogs that weekend and three of them were pitbulls. I make this distinction because we learned about the peculiar case of pitbulls in public shelters –specifically in Boston public shelters. The city of Boston deems it unlawful for anyone from Boston to adopt a pitbull from a public shelter. However, a Bostonian adopting a pitbull from a private shelter is. That left the three pitbulls at the shelter to wait around for several months in hopes of being picked up by a private shelter to be adopted. We met a particularly friendly pitbull named Cry Baby. He had been hit by a car before he was brought to the shelter. But he was healthy and happy when he was hanging out with us! The cutest thing!

This year’s Global Day of Service volunteered earlier in the year and painted the shelter walls to make the place more fun and lively! Our site-contact told us how she is thrilled to have us volunteer through FYSOP this year and to hopefully have us help paint some more to leave our FYSOP Lovin’ mark forever! Be excited guys!




Visiting Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter

This Monday we visited Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter, a volunteer site we have booked for all of you animal lovers! Let me tell you, there are some cute cats, and a lot of good service to be done. Ellen Gifford is a cageless, no-kill cat shelter located in Newton that is home to many adoptable cats and kittens.

CatsWe met with our site contact who is super excited to host everyone again and possibly find some volunteers for the school year. We learned a lot about feral cats and “trap, neuter, return” an effective and humane method to keep feral cat colonies under control. Unfortunately, feral cats cannot be adopted because they are so unsocialized, but they can live healthy lives in their colonies. The biggest problem is keeping the large feral cat population under control. Trap, neuter, return is a method of capturing feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and then returning them to their colony. Ellen Gifford provides shelter for its own feral cat colony, many of whom cannot be returned to their colony for one reason or another.

Eliot and Izzi We also met a cat named Eliot, who has feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, which is the cat equivalent of HIV. Eliot can live a long and healthy life, and he is waiting to be adopted by a loving family. The disease can only be spread to other cats by deep bites or scratches, so he is kept in his own enclosure to prevent the spread of the disease.

Kelsey and KittenWe also got to play with some very cute kittens, who were rescued after being discovered in a hoarding situation. How sad! Ellen Gifford needs volunteers to help socialize them, so one of the volunteer tasks will be to play with them! We are so excited to be working with Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter again this year, and you should be too!

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A Dog, A Boy, & Our Vision

Hi Animal Lovers!

Izzi and I are booking some great service sites and getting some great information about the complex issues surrounding animal rights. We keep getting more and more excited about this year’s FYSOP! We want to share with you all the direction that this year’s animal issue area will be going. The best way to introduce our vision for FYSOP 24 is to introduce you to Xena and Jonny.

Xena and Johnny

Last September, a 4 month old Staffordshire terrier/pit bull mix was found collapsed on the side of a road. She had been confined to a cage for most of her short life and was severely malnourished. Animal Service workers did not expect her to live through the night–however she didn’t just survive, she thrived. Shelter workers named her “Xena the Warrior Puppy” because of her fighting spirit and she finally was strong enough to find a forever home.

She eventually found that home with the Hickey family, who adopted her in March. That was when Xena met Jonny.

Jonny, the Hickey’s son, is autistic. Prior to meeting Xena, he rarely spoke, had trouble forming relationships, and had personal space issues. However, since Xena has become a part of his family, Jonny hasn’t stopped talking–and the two have become inseparable. Jonny even sang about their friendship:

“I have spent thousands of dollars on therapy,” said his mom, “and I believe on February 11th when Jonny met Xena in our family room, that the best therapy in the world was standing in my home.”

Jonny’s confidence has grown so much that he even made a video promoting autism awareness and animal rights activism.

“My name is Jonny and this is my puppy, Xena. Well, my Xena was hurt really bad. By some not-so-nice people. And I have autism. So I think we make a pretty perfect team to spread the word to be nice to animals, and nice to kids like me.”

You may be wondering… how does this relate to FYSOP 24? Well if you want to understand our vision, the direction that the animal issue area will be heading this year, and how Jonny and Xena’s story relates, visit our Vision Page.