Daily Archives: February 9, 2011

The Cost Of Animal Care Is Sometimes Too Much

Published February 9, 2011

The MSPCA has had a unique view of the economic downturn.

Since 2007, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has seen a dramatic shift toward financial constraints as a primary reason people give up pets.

In 2007, 111 animals were surrendered to the Boston shelter due to owner cost concerns, spokesman Brian Adams told me. In 2010, that figure more than doubled — to 258. Across the MSPCA’s four shelters, the trend was similar: 278 animals surrendered due to cost concerns in 2007; 456 in 2010.

The organization keeps detailed records about why owners give up their animals, including moving to housing that isn’t pet-friendly, divorce and allergies. But in 2008, with the recession first striking, the MSPCA felt compelled to create a new category: foreclosure.

Full Pooch Disclosure: A family member's new dog, a 4-year-old Border Collie/German Shepherd mix, was surrendered to the MSPCA following a foreclosure.

Full Pooch Disclosure: A family member's new dog, a 4-year-old Border Collie/German Shepherd mix, was surrendered to the MSPCA following a foreclosure.

“Prior to 2008, we would hear that people were being foreclosed on, but it was very rare,” Adams said. “However, in 2008, much like the entire nation, foreclosures became much more prominent, and people started citing foreclosure to us more, at which point we decided, ‘We need to add a category for this.’ ”

In 2008, 27 animals were surrendered to the Boston center specifically because of foreclosure. The last two years saw 44 more animals surrendered to the city shelter for that reason.

Despite the shift toward cost-driven surrenders, the MSPCA says it’s caring for roughly the same number of animals over the past few years.

Surrenders due to financial concerns present specific challenges for the MSPCA. Allergy information provided to owners, for example, can help keep an animal in the home. For financial surrenders, the options are limited. Adams said certain low-cost services can help pet owners get over “small humps,” but a major decrease in an owner’s finances is harder to combat.

Further, many animals surrendered to the MSPCA for financial concerns require “extra care,” Adams said, perhaps to make up for a surgery cash-strapped owners could not provide.

It’s an emotional situation that’s become more common for the shelter.

“The one constant that comes with surrenders, especially for foreclosure or financial concerns, is you’re dealing with people who, on a very gut level, do show a sense of shame as if they have not been able to provide for this animal that they love very much,” Adams said.

The MSPCA, which also cares for thousands of stray animals every year, has felt the pinch itself. In 2008, its private-supported endowment lost nearly 26 percent, or more than $11 million, which led to the closure of shelters in Brockton, Martha’s Vineyard and Springfield. Adams said the organization worked with entities in those communities to “ensure animal welfare programs would continue.”

Who’s Responsible For Shoveling Hydrants? Nobody

Published February 9, 2011

Universal Hub posts photo after photo of Boston fire hydrants covered in snow. We received a handful of reports of blocked hydrants on our map of unshoveled sidewalks.

Besides the public-safety risk, it can be infuriating when you’re ticketed for parking in front of an invisible hydrant.

UHub reporter Lexis Galloway tried to figure out whose job it is to dig out hydrants. It turns out the answer is nobody:

Although the Boston Water and Sewer Commission and the Boston Fire Department are responsible for making sure hydrants actually work, there’s no law regulating who has to keep them clear after snowstorms, Boston Fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said.

In an interview with Universal Hub, MacDonald said that while firefighters shovel what they can, there’s only so much they can do in a winter like this. “We have to rely on the owners and neighbors to take care of shoveling the hydrants out,” he said.

The city helped organize a volunteer dig-out in Charlestown last weekend, which may be the best solution for now. You can report blocked hydrants to the Mayor’s Hotline.

Ol’ Ray Allen, Sharpshooter, Still Going Strong

Published February 9, 2011

When Ray Allen made his first NBA three-pointer, “The Macarena” was the hottest song in the country.

“Home Improvement” was a top-10 TV show. It was still weeks before Tom Cruise and the rest of the world fell in love with Renee Zellweger, Jerry Maguire’s secretary.

Ray Allen showcases his beautiful shot against the Bulls in 2008. (AP)

Ray Allen showcases his beautiful shot against the Bulls in 2008. (AP)

Los del Rio have long since faded away and Tim Allen now only exists in digital form as Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, but Ray Allen’s jumpshot still has more legs than Zellweger’s career.

Allen, the Celtics’ shooting guard, continues his march into the record books Thursday when he becomes the NBA’s all-time leading three-point shooter against the arch-rival Lakers at the TD Garden.

Right now, Allen’s 2,559 career three-pointers leave him just one short of the the league’s record, but he won’t be there for long. In Allen’s 14+ seasons in the NBA, he has made an average of 2.4 three-pointers a game.

That first three-pointer came in Philadelphia, when Allen was a rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks. In the next day’s newspapers the Associated Press made no mention of either of the two threes Allen sunk, but it did highlight Allen’s key contributions as a rookie starter in his first NBA game:

Allen, who finished with 13 points, scored 6 during a stretch late in the fourth quarter that turned a close game into a 111-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the season opener tonight.

Allen also hit the game-winning foul shot to ice the game after Allen Iverson, also a rookie, was tagged with a technical. For basketball fans, looking back at that is poetic.

Since then, Allen’s been known as a fitness freak with a shot as sweet as his bald ‘do. Along with an Ortiz double off the wall and the crowd at Gillette during a Tom Brady 2-minute drill, Allen’s jump shot is one of the current Three Wonders of the New England Sports World.

In his second NBA game, Allen’s Bucks beat the Celtics. Twelve years later, Allen helped lead the C’s to their NBA-record 17th championship. Now, as Allen cements his place in the NBA record books, the 35-year-old’s boundless energy is re-charging the Celtics’ hopes for banner No. 18.

Weds. Morning: No Smoking On The Common?

Published February 9, 2011

Good morning! It’s cold today. Here’s what’s news on a Wednesday in Boston.

Gov. Deval Patrick, in his forthcoming memoir, reveals he considered resigning after taking office in 2007. His wife was hospitalized with depression, and they almost couldn’t face four years in the spotlight. Patrick also says he failed the bar exam twice and got “blackballed” by an exclusive Brookline country club.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino is setting the tone for a battle with Walmart, which is in talks with the city to open one or more stores here. “I’m very concerned about how they treat their employees … I want to make sure they are good jobs, that their employees get health insurance, retirement plans — all the benefits everyone else gets,” Menino told the Herald.

Two Boston city councilors are proposing to ban smoking in public parks and beaches. Hundreds of cities and towns have similar bans, from Braintree to New York to San Diego. Menino has not weighed in on the idea.

Boston is preparing to unleash “Pot-zilla,” a $150,000, self-contained pothole-filling machine. The city expects 500 pothole complaints this month as as ice thaws, re-freezes and thaws again. (Head over to Hubbub’s pothole map to learn how to report potholes in your city or town.)

The Track Gals report on the success of the Boston Police Department’s social media efforts. BPD reached 20,000 Twitter followers yesterday, the largest of any PD worldwide.