Category Archives: Boston

Pet Sitting 101


I guess that sooner or later, just about everyone is pressed into service as a pet sitter. It can be a pleasant experience if you follow a few simple guidelines. To illustrate some basic tenets of the craft, I will use Annie Maguire and her guardians as an example. This isn’t intended to be a guide to professional pet sitting. I pet-sit only for friends and animals with whom I have an established relationship. For information on professional pet sitting, see

Annie is a golden retriever, approximately four years old. Her guardians, Jane and Joel, are experienced and dedicated dog lovers. Over the years, they have shared their home with some marvelous canines. They raised Annie from puppyhood, and their general joie de vive is reflected in her personality.

Taking care of Annie Maguire is the pet-sitting equivalent of winning the Irish Sweepstakes. The Maguires’ home is one of the more comfortable residences on the island, and Annie is intelligent, affectionate and humorous. So let’s just say that I don’t shrink from the prospect of staying in that gorgeous home, taking care of that lovable dog.

In a general sense, it’s best to have a pre-care visit with pet and guardians. The Maguires always write down all the things I need to know about Annie’s routine: what she’s eating, how much to feed her and how often; what medications or supplements she might be taking… that kind of thing. They also let me know how to reach them in an emergency, and give me the contact information for their veterinarian.
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Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty Can Keep Two Dead Pets

A court has ruled that a Massachusetts woman convicted of animal cruelty can keep a dead dog and cat, as long as she complies with health codes.

Heidi Erickson was charged in May 2005 with animal cruelty to five cats and a dog. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail for the cruelty to cats and 90 days for cruelty to the dog.

During her pending case, a judge ordered that her six pets be returned to her. During that time, four cats were living, while one cat and the dog were dead.

The city of Boston challenged the judge’s order, and after Erickson was convicted, the city forgo its challenge the order to return her living animals to Erickson, but continued to challenge the order of returning the dead animals to her.

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Blind Dog’s “Guide Cat” Goes Missing


If you’re traveling anywhere near Amesbury, Massachusetts and happen to see a rather large, white cat with a deformed front paw, there’s a dog named Aspen who would appreciate hearing from you.

Yodi, the wayward cat, has been among the missing since Labor Day weekend. The 10-year-old feline is a member of the Packer family, who have been living on Rocky Hill Road in Amesbury for the past 36 years.

As much as his human family misses Yodi, it is Aspen who is most despondent over his absence. The 90-pound boxer-terrier mix has been blind for many years, and relies on Yodi for both guidance and companionship. According to Diane Packer, Aspen has been just lying around since his friend disappeared.

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Board Lets Pet Chickens Stay Home to Roost

hen.jpgA recent Itchmo article told the story of a town that forced a family to give up its pet chickens despite pleas from the family claiming that the birds were pets and not farm animals. But in Easthampton, Mass., town officials saw it differently when 10-year-old Sylvan Lorenz defended her pets at a recent zoning board meeting.

Sylvan and her brother have been rearing the chickens since they were a day old, but neighbors who had previously been denied the right to raise chickens on their property complained to the zoning enforcement officer. The Lorenz family was ordered to get rid of their hens, but Sylvan was able to convince the board that the birds were pets, not “poultry”.

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Animal Shelter Van Adopts Out Cats And Dogs To Lunchtime Crowds

Animal Rescue League

What do you do on your lunch break? Grab some fast food. Pick up your dry cleaning. Take a nap. Adopt a pet.

At the City Hall Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts, the lunchtime crowd is not only able to take a break from their busy workday, but they can adopt a cat or dog.

The Animal Rescue League introduced a new Mobile Adoption Rescue Vehicle on Wednesday, where more than 40 animals are in cages on the van, so people passing by can decide if they want to give these irresistible pets a new home. The van will travel to various popular locations around the city to attract more people to adopt.

The president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston said this new program is about matchmaking which is what good adoption is all about.

The Animal Rescue League stated that they will uphold their same strict adoption policies at their mobile vehicle adoption program as in their shelters. Adoptions will only be completed after checking all of the applicants’ information.

The director of communications for the Animal Rescue League said that family members must meet the potential pet before it goes home. The new owner must provide proof of home ownership or a lease showing that pets are allowed. Current dog owners must introduce the new dog to the existing dog.

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Proposal To Fine Cat Owners When Cats Trespass On Property

Stray Cat

Tiger and Princess may not be able to go for their daily roams around the neighborhood anymore.

A councilman in Attleboro, Massachusetts is proposing an ordinance that would regulate cat owners to keep their cats on their own property. If a cat is found to be trespassing and out of the owner’s yard, fines up to $100 each incident could be imposed.

Councilman Brian Kirby said his proposal is in response to complaints from two residents. He said he knows his proposal “may not go anywhere”, but he said the problem needs to be addressed.

One resident complained about a neighbor’s cat that jumped over a fence into his property and killed a pet bird. Another complained about a cat that scratched his car and left his yard “smelling like a litter box.”

Kirby said he is not suggesting that cats are kept indoors, but he wants to see legislation put in place if they are endangering other pets or using other people’s properties as litter boxes.

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The Bizarre Things An Animal Control Officer Encounters

Animal control officers not only deal with cats and dogs, but they have to deal with any kind of animal in the book. Several Boston area Animal Control Officers delved into their stranger experiences on the job.

Snakes on the roof: A house was for sale but no one wanted to go inside the house because four snakes were camping out on top of the roof. They were easily seen all around the neighborhood on the one-story house. Finally, a real estate agent called the local animal control officer.

When the officer got on the roof and was about to throw her net on them, she noticed they were not moving. They were fake rubber snakes. The animal control officer ended up kicking the fake snakes off the roof.

20 Guinea pigs in a bush: A dog owner was worried because her dog had been acting strange and escaped out the front door. The woman followed her dog and saw a large guinea pig that had rolled over and died. She then saw another one that was alive. An animal control officer was called to investigate the scene. After two-and-a-half hours, the officer found 20 guinea pigs in the bushes. 19 of them were alive.

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NEW RECALL: Krasdale Gravy Dog Food Recalled By Mars Petcare

Krasdale Gravy dry dog food sold in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania has been recalled by Mars Petcare.

The Krasdale Gravy brand dry dog food is being recalled because of a potential Salmonella contamination, which can cause serious infections in dogs and cats.

Here is the recalled Krasdale Gravy pet food information:

Product: Krasdale Gravy dry dog food
Size: 5 pound bag
UPC Code: 7513062596
Best By Date: July 16 & 17, 2008
Best By Date Location: Back of bag
Affected Stores: Various stores located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Full press release below.

(Related News: Red Flannel brand dog food was also recalled due to salmonella risk.)

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Introducing A New Writer: Pat Richard

Pat RichardPatty Richard is a native of Rhode Island and currently lives on Prudence Island, where she waits anxiously for tourist season to be over, then waits anxiously for hunting season to be over. Although most of her professional life has been geared to printing and publishing, she has a shockingly short attention span and has performed all manner of unrelated tasks ranging from peeling potatoes to monitoring seawater quality parameters for NOAA. Somehow she always ends up back in the publishing business.

She telecommutes to her current job as copy editor and layout artist for “Manufacturers’ Mart”, a regional industrial trade publication. She has written many natural science features and travelogues for local newspapers, and edited a regional recreation guide, “The Sundial” for two years.

In her spare time, she tries unsuccessfully to avoid volunteering for community organizations, including but not limited to the Prudence Conservancy, the Prudence Island Historical & Preservation Society, the Homestead Plat Improvement Association, the Prudence Island Water District and the Friends of Prudence Island School.

Patty refuses to leave the island except to buy cigarettes, which are much cheaper on the mainland. She has always shared her home with pets. Her current pet family consists of two cats: a 20-year-old tiger tabby named Rochester (alias “King of Beasts”) and an adopted feral, approximately 7 years old, named Nermal. She is also the de facto guardian of 6 chickens: Bertha, Gimpy, Big Red, Little Red, Little Blackie and Psycho-Chicken. Her writing for Itchmo will focus largely on geriatric pets.

Patty’s ambition is to win Powerball, buy a small island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and retire into obscurity. She’s already accomplished the obscurity part.

Man Blames Cat Shooting — On Cat

Nicholas Goroff the cat shooterThis is a sad story of a cat who died and the idiot owner who survived. A New Hampshire man told police that his cat accidentally shot itself after knocking over the shotgun. The police suspected that the cat wasn’t to blame when they smelled alcohol on his breath, noticed slurred speech, and found him unable to stand without swaying. He told the police he had one drink. (Picture from his MySpace account at right)

The 24-year-old idiot college student, Nicholas Goroff, was found crying outside an emergency animal clinic on Friday around 4am in this condition. He had told the clinic employees that the cat had caused the shotgun to discharge. The cat was euthanized and its name nor gender was provided.

After telling the police several different versions of the story, the police were finally able to get Goroff to admit to having shot his own cat. According to police, Goroff removed a loaded shotgun from his bedroom and took it to the living room of the apartment he shared with a girlfriend and brother. He leaned the gun against the couch, then picked it up and pulled back the hammer. According to police, his thumb slipped when he tried to release the hammer and the poor cat was hit.

The police went to his apartment and found more than a dozen empty beer cans. When the shotgun discharged, it was also pointed at a neighboring apartment, which led police to arrest the idiot him with felony reckless endangerment.

“I’m no risk to anyone… I had but one half of a beer,” said the idiot Goroff. The judge set his bond at $2,000. He will appear in court again for a hearing on August 23. Goroff’s sentence is unlikely to be a gunshot wound from a shot fired by a cat.

Goroff’s (possibly sober) ramblings on politics can be found on his MySpace blog.

It is not known if Goroff’s dubious inspiration came from this story of a dog shooting its owner.

Sources: The Union Leader, AP, WMUR

Thanks Stan A.

Mitt Romney Faces Stiff Winds On Treatment Of Dog

Mitt RomneyDespite clear outrage from pet owners, animal welfare organizations and the blogsphere, the Mitt Romney campaign continues to make light of the former Mass. governor’s treatment of the family dog.

A few commenters have expressed doubt about just how bad it was for poor Seamus Romney to be on top of the car. Well, don’t listen to us, listen to the experts:

Aerospace engineering professor: “At that speed, assuming sea level conditions, the poor little dog would have about 10 pounds per square foot pressing against his head. He would constantly feel a little less than 3 pounds pressing on his head for the entire trip. The windshield would help, but boy that would get tired.

“Chances are the windshield would only protect the front of the dog, but the air flowing around the windshield would buffet the side of the dog — that would be tiring. My wife’s a vet, and she would be more worried by the dehydration of the dog’s eyes under those conditions.”

Physics and astronomy senior faculty fellow: “What happens to a dog in this situation is precisely what would happen to any of us in the same situation: Trapped in a box for 12 hours would be no one’s idea of comfortable.”

Dog walking service owner: “It would be one thing if someone put it down or forgot and then drove 50 feet and realized what they did. I don’t know anyone who would purposefully do that to a dog.”

The Boston Globe, whose original profile shed light into Romney’s startling behavior published this column with a healthy dose of sarcasm:

I’m not a dog owner, so I can’t say with certainty what the right answer would have been here, but somehow I suspect that if the question of what to do with Seamus was presented as a Harvard Business School case study, the remedy Mitt arrived at would not be widely seized upon as the most intelligent choice.

Several alternatives present themselves. I have heard that it’s possible to pay to board one’s dog at bed-and-breakfast-like establishments generically referred to as “the kennel.” Or even, if one has the means, to engage what is known as a “dog sitter.”

If the rooftop ride really was such a smart solution, at the very least Mitt could have taken a turn up there himself. Certainly he’s proved resolute in the face of risk, at least in the business world, and I have it on good report that the hair product he uses is guaranteed to hold fast in gusts of up to 70 miles an hour.

More on the reactions to Seamus Romney’s treatment after the jump.

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Mitt Romney Defends His Actions, Says Dog Liked The Car Roof

Mitt Romney with wife and station wagon

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney came to his own rescue (sort of) on a Thursday campaign stop. In defending his actions of strapping the family dog in a crate to the top of the car for 12 hours, he said “[the dog, Seamus,] scrambled up there every time we went on trips. He got it all by himself and enjoyed it.”

Don’t blame the dog for your own stupid actions.

A grown man and the head of a family needs better judgment skills — especially if that man wants to be the president.

What’s the Massachusetts penalty for animal cruelty? “Imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $2,500, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

More on Mitt Romney and his dog after the jump.

(Romney family photo)

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Why Mitt Romney Is Not Fit To Take Care Of Your Dog, Let Alone Run For The Presidency

Mitt Romney


Boxes, bicycles, bags are things you can strap to the top of a car. Your family dog is not one of those items. Mr. Mitt Romney, for not knowing the difference, we believe that you lack the powers of judgment fit for the White House.

You strapped your dog in its cage to the top of your family car for 12 hours at highway speeds. During that trip, you saw how scared the dog was, because it defecated on top of the vehicle. This gave you a chance to correct your error in judgment. But instead, you stopped to hose down the dog and then put the wet dog back on top of the car for the remainder of the trip. You set the example before your kids that it’s OK to treat a dog as you would a box, a bicycle or a bag.

Itchmo is non-partisan and rarely takes political sides, but we are asking our readers, and all cat- and dog-lovers to rule out Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate. It’s not about whether he’s a democrat or republican — we could care less. It’s because he treated his family pet no better than a box, bicycle or bag despite a chance to make the right decision. What he committed was animal abuse, clear and simple.

If he becomes the President of the United States, Mitt Romney will see many laws and regulations that affect the treatment of animals — your cats and dogs included. We have no reason to believe that he cares any more for pets today than before. If he’s willing to treat his own family dog with such carelessness and disdain, why should he care for members of your pet family? Where was the compassion when his own dog was scared to death and looking for comfort and love? You can tell a lot about a man’s character by looking at the way he treats animals. We can all agree than an animal abuser does not belong in the White House.

Cast your vote for any other candidate, just not Mitt Romney.

P.S. to readers: There’s an “Email This” link for posts like this.

A Cruel Ride For Mitt Romney’s Dog

RomneyIt was 1983 and Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and now presidential candidate, was going on a vacation with his family. The family was driving from Boston to Ontario, and Seamus, the dog, was also coming along for the trip.

Where did Romney put Seamus? Romney strapped a dog carrier with Seamus, an Irish setter, in it, to the roof of the family station wagon for the twelve hour drive. Fortunately, Seamus survived the long trip on the top of the car, although he protested being on top by releasing his bodily fluids on the car.

More on Romney’s situation with his dog after the jump.

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Man Accused Of Setting Cat On Fire

Warning: This story may disturb some readers.

A Boston man has been charged with the malicious killing of a cat and arson. Earlier this month, he was arrested after setting a cat on fire and throwing it against a residence. Police said that the man has confessed to killing the cat.

“Whether it’s an attack on an animal or an attack on a person, the Boston police take these situations very seriously,” said Boston police spokesman James Kenneally.

Under state law, killing a domestic animal is punishable by up to five years in prison, and arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Source: Boston Globe