A-DOG Annual Report 2008

This Annual Report is also available as a pdf file:

Text of A-DOG Annual Report
September 29, 2008

In spring 2008, a group of concerned dog owners in Arlington incorporated a new not-for-profit organization, Arlington Dog Owners Group (or A-DOG), to improve life for dogs and people in Arlington. A-DOG’s guiding principles are:
— Relationships with dogs and other companion animals have numerous benefits to individuals of all ages, and to the community at large.
— With dog ownership comes responsibility, not only to promote the health and welfare of one’s dog, but also to ensure that one’s dog does not adversely affect the safety of others.

A-DOG’s mission includes:
— Advocating for the rights and interests of Arlington dog owners.
— Promoting responsible dog ownership, emphasizing respect for the rights and interests of neighbors and the community as well as the welfare of our companion animals.
— Educating the community about dog behavior and other factors influencing canine-human interactions.
— Working to promote safe, healthy recreational venues for dogs on- and off-leash in Arlington, enabling responsible dog owners to exercise and socialize their dogs.

A-DOG’s founding directors are: Susan C. Ruderman and Susan R. Doctrow (co-presidents); Andrew Fischer; MaryAnna Foskett; Brenda Kokubo; Carrie Moore; Mary Mangan; Ann Smith; Roslyn Smith; and Judy Weinberg
A-DOG’s founding officers are: Susan C. Ruderman (co-President); Susan R. Doctrow (co-President, Treasurer); MaryAnna Foskett (Clerk and Vice President).

Highlights of A-DOG’s first year:

1. Brain Bee: A-DOG founders sponsored a team in the April, 2008 Brain Bee to benefit the Arlington Educational Enrichment Fund (AEEF). Team members were A. Michael Ruderman, Rich Carreiro, and Judson Pierce. The A-DOG team finished in a very impressive second place in a challenging field! In addition, our team’s contribution, raised by personal funds of founders and other supporters, was $500, making A-DOG a Gold Star Level sponsor. Further details are on our website and were published in YourArlington.com.

2. Prison Pups screening: A-DOG sponsored the screening of Prison Pups, an award winning documentary by Arlington resident and A-DOG member Alice Bouvrie. Prison Pups highlights a program where inmates in a local minimum security prison raise and train dogs that will, under the auspices of NEADS, become service dogs for the disabled and hearing impaired, The event was held at the Regent Theatre, and was a great success, with approximately 150 attendees and raising over $1000. A-DOG donated $250 to NEADS, supplementing the personal NEADS donations made by A-DOG members and other event attendees.

3. Town Meeting: More details can be found on our website. Article 28 proposed that dogs be allowed off leash in Arlington, under certain reasonable conditions and at certain reasonable times. A-DOG issued a report in support of a more detailed Substitute Motion introduced by A-DOG and Town Meeting member Michael Ruderman, and coauthored by several A-DOG members, including those who are also Town Meeting members. The motion was defeated with a vote to support the Selectmen’s recommendation of “no action”, but several supporters came forward as a result of this effort and will help us in our efforts for a better outcome next year. We believe that many who would otherwise be supportive of the spirit of Article 28 wanted instead to give the Green Dog committee time to finish its work toward submitting its pilot proposal for off-leash activity to Town Meeting in 2009. Article 29 proposed that dogs be banned from Menotomy Rocks Park. This Article was also defeated with a vote to support the Selectmen’s recommendation of “no action”.

4. Marketing and Promotion: Thanks to professional efforts by several A-DOG member/volunteers, A-DOG is building its reputation with distinction in Arlington. Dan Foskett designed and maintains our website (www.arlingtondogowners.org). The website now features our logo, by graphics designer Lisa Berasi. This logo is also featured on our full-color brochures, designed by Ericka Gray. Lisa’s logo is also featured on our T-shirts, introduced at Town Day, and, of course, on this Annual Report.

5. “Friends of A-DOG” program: This program has now been launched, with several businesses participating. These are listed on our website. Some of these businesses offer discounts to A-DOG full members; others have provided A-DOG with financial donations or donated goods or professional services.

6. Robbins Library Display: A-DOG sponsored a display in the lobby of Robbins Library during the month of August. The display included educational books on topics such as raising and training dogs, a recommended book list featuring books available at Robbins, flyers describing A-DOG, and a cuddly toy Sharpei. Reference Librarian Susan Caulfield kindly wrote us to say, “The A-DOG display has been very popular (and kids like the stuffed dog). Almost all of the books in the original display went out, so I’ve restocked it twice now, and everything keeps going out!” Ms. Caulfield asked us to recommend additional useful titles about dogs and dog ownership for the library to acquire.

7. Town Day. A-DOG sponsored a booth at Arlington Town Day on September 20, 2008. Activities at the booth included: (1) Signing up new members and “Friends of A-DOG”, (2) Collecting signatures on our petition (see below); (3) Selling A-DOG T shirts; and (4) Raffling a gift basket. Over $500 was raised and about 245 hand-written petition signatures collected.

8. Membership: Ann Smith and Roslyn Smith, as our Membership Directors, will issue their own report at the Annual Meeting. They have been maintaining membership records and overseeing communication with our members (over 100 households, to date). They have designed and printed membership cards, laminated by Judy Weinberg. These are being distributed to full members to enable their use for discounts at Friends of A-DOG businesses. Ann and Roslyn are also organizing the names, addresses and precincts of the ~1200 registered dogowners in Arlington, for use in our future membership outreach.

9. Petition: In an effort spearheaded by member/volunteer Iain Miller, A-DOG has launched an online petition. We are supplementing this petition by collecting signatures by hand, beginning on Town Day as noted above. The Petition can now be accessed and signed via our website.

Future plans:
I believe that our specific activities in the coming year, pending Board approval, should include:

— Working with the Green Dog committee to synergize with their efforts and to ensure that the program they develop will serve the interests of our members and other responsible dog owners in Arlington.
— Organizing with other local Dog Owners Groups to support one another through certain shared activities and efforts. SomDOG of Somerville (chairperson Michele Biscoe) has envisioned such a collaboration, and MayDOG of Maynard (president Lisa Lines) has also expressed an interest. We hope to get other DOGs involved as we start to organize.
— Expanding our membership outreach efforts. Specific plans underway include targeting the list of dog owners who have licensed their dogs in Arlington.
— Continuing to collect signatures on our petition and to otherwise mobilize support for legal off leash exercise and socialization opportunities for dogs in Arlington.
— Forming an Advisory Council of professionals in relevant fields to provide guidance to us as we go forward.
— Continuing to sponsor valuable educational and advocacy events in our community, and to participate in appropriate events sponsored by others, for example, Responsible Dog Owners Day sponsored by Go Play! (also a “Friend of A DOG”) and the Arlington Recreation Department.

To conclude this 2008 Annual Report, I want to express our gratitude to my co-president, Susan C. Ruderman, who will be resigning this year as A-DOG co-President and member of the Board of Directors. Susan brought all the founders together with her vision for A-DOG, and gave our organization its name and its nickname. She was the major driving force behind some of our most successful events and activities, including Prison Pups, the Robbins display and team sponsorship for the Brain Bee. We are delighted that, as Director of Advancement for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, Susan will continue to provide her valuable guidance and professional advice as a member of our Advisory Council.

Susan R. Doctrow

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