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Max the military dog to be buried Saturday in Methuen

June 12, 2014 01:32 PM
The following was submitted by the MSPCA:

As a bugler plays taps and a host of law enforcement and town officials stand guard, “Max” the war dog — who served in the US military from 2003-2007 before dying at age 10 on Memorial Day in 2012 — will be laid to rest on Saturday, June 14, at the MSPCA’s Hillside Acre Cemetery in Methuen,the MSPCA-Angell announced.
Watching with pride will be Pam Pelton of Northfield, N.H., who will no doubt be reflecting on the day she adopted Max in 2007 from the Military War Dog Agency at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio after he returned from four years of active duty. 
“It’s obviously a very bittersweet time,” said Pelton as she looked ahead to Max’s burial, the first for a war dog at Hillside since the 1950s.  “Having Max for five years was a highlight in my life — he was my walking buddy and near-constant companion.  It’s very hard to say goodbye but I take great comfort in the outpouring of love and respect he’s received.”
Pelton has for years been in touch with military officials to determine the nature of Max’s work and where it was performed.  “Unfortunately the exact details of the work Max performed — as well as the countries in which that work was performed — remain a mystery to me to this day.”  Given his service era, however, it is reasonable to suggest Max was stationed in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Max was trained as a “sniffing dog,” and may have been skilled at detecting explosive material that could endanger the life of servicemen and women, as well as civilians, in the arenas in which he worked.  According to Pelton, he never lost his fiercely loyal and protective nature.  

“Max literally saved my life years ago when we were walking in the woods and encountered two feral dogs.  The dogs jumped toward me and Max immediately sprang into action, fighting them off and very likely saving both our lives.”
Max is the ninth war dog to be buried at Hillside Acre Cemetery which for 80 years has been operated by the MSPCA and is now the final resting place for 18,000 beloved companion and service animals. 
Through the Heroes at Hillside program, military dogs such as Max are buried at no cost to their owner.  Dave Gordon, who manages the cemetery (400 Nevins Road) for the MSPCA, said: “Max served his country with honor and proved just as noble and loyal a companion to Pam after his military service ended.  He deserves our respect and we are proud to lay him to rest at Hillside Acre Cemetery.”

Pam Pelton of New Hampshire with Max (credit Pam Pelton).jpg
Pam Pelton photos

The beloved military dog was a trusting companion to Pam Pelton for years after his service ended.

Balmoral and Marland dam removal projects gain traction

April 21, 2014 03:22 PM

Water rushes down the narrow embankments where it reaches an historic low arch stone bridge. From there it spills over the Balmoral Dam, creating a small waterfall that collects trash.

For 25 miles through northeastern Massachusetts, water flows down the Shawsheen River from its headwaters in Concord and Lexington to the city of Lawrence, where it enters the Merrimack River.

The goal of the Andover Conservation Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center is to re-establish the free-flowing river to create an ecosystem that can support recreational and economic value to the communities of the watershed.

There are plans to take down both the Balmoral and Marland Place Dam, also known as Steven’s Street Dam, within the next two years. The Andover Conservation Commission still does not have the approval to take down the Ballardvale Dam, which is located upstream from the other two dams.

“All of them were mill dams, and what’s important is hundreds and hundreds and thousands of them are around the state but very, very few of them are used for mill purposed anymore,” said Bob Douglas, the director of conservation in Andover. “They are kind of relics of an industrial age that has long since past. Now it’s time for nature to run its course.”

For a river to be healthy it must be able to transport water, sediment, nutrients and organic material, support fish and maintain good water quality. Dams fragment the river, which can cause low dissolved oxygen, high temperatures, high nutrition accumulation and sinks for toxics.

According to Alison Bowden, the Freshwater Program Director at The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, there are about 1,400 recorded dams in the state but about 2,800 dams don’t reach the threshold of height to be recorded.

Bowden said that the controversy behind getting the dams removed is that residents have a sense of loss when the environment changes when they lose a pond or a particular setting. Bowden also said the biggest misconception people have is that dams control floods, but they will only mitigate floods if they are designed to do it.

“As the water level comes up, it gets higher and higher and it will get flooded,” said Bowden. “It is sort of like a bathtub. Once you get to the top of the bathtub it can’t hold anymore water.”

In Massachusetts there are only 43 dams that are designed for flood control. The Balmoral and Marland Place dams in Andover are not designed to mitigate flooding. This is one of the reasons why conservationists want to take down the dams.

Bob Decelle, the special projects manager for Andover Conservation Commission, said that the construction of the Balmoral Dam by William Wood over a hundred years ago for ornamental purposes ended up costing the environment.

“The environmental disaster that he created, other then filling in those wetlands, was that he built these bridges on the other side,” said Decelle pointing towards the Balmoral Dam. “When the water rises above the arch it can’t go through the bridge so it goes around the bridge.”

The last time Andover got struck with a flood was on Mother’s Day in 2007. Decelle said that it caused millions of dollars of damage and a tremendous displacement of people.

The water is channelized, which causes it to rise quickly and then have nowhere to go but out. The removal of the dam will lower the level of the river that will help a little with flooding.

“This will be nice, but it’s not going to improve the flooding issues,” said Decelle. “The bridges do the holding back.”

There is currently nothing that the conservationists can do about the bridges because they are historic.

The Andover Conservation Commission wants to take the lower dams down first in order for the animals and fish to get used to it. The cost of removing the smaller of the two dams, the Balmoral, will cost about $2,000 and the process will include diverting the water through a pipe in order to get an extravator in to take out the stones that make up the dam.

Suzanne Robert, a resident of Andover with a background in technical hydrology and environmentalism, claims that she is the sole person fighting the removal of the Marland Place Dam.

“The whole reasoning if you take down the dams the fish will come back is erroneous,” said Robert. “Because I don’t think the water quality as it stands now will sustain this. This is an urban river.”

Robert’s doesn’t want the Marland Place Dam to be removed because it will flush out the millpond that it is supporting. That ecosystem supports animals including beavers, muskrats, herrings, and snapping turtles. Robert said that when they remove the dam the millpond would turn into a mudflat allowing invasive plants to migrate into where the millpond once was.

Although Roberts is against removing the Marland Place Dam she is still in support of removing the Balmoral Dam because it poses a safety issue.

The Balmoral is a low-head dam that is extremely dangerous because it serves as a vortex. Once you’re in it, it will keep you there until you drown according to Decelle.

Another safety issue concerning the removal of the dams is toxic material that is left behind from industrial times that could be stored in the river’s sediment. Douglas says that the sediment needs to be cleaned before they release the sludge of mercury or some other chemicals down the river.

“You can imagine a dry material doesn’t weigh anything, but you hydrate that with lots and lots of water and it becomes really heavy and hard to move and when its toxic it can only be disposed of in very specific places,” said Douglas.

The cost of removing chemicals can be really expensive. Testing at the Marland Place Dam showed small amounts of cambium that will continue to be tested for.

In Vermont, dams are being revitalized. William Scully, a mechanical worker, restaurant and storeowner recently bought a hydropower dam that will be running by October or November of this year. He hopes the dam will offset Vermont’s energy dependency from other states.

Scully also worked with the community to clean up the surrounding area including trash from a park and conducting a Brownfield remediation of an old paper mill. In order to clean up the PCPs and dioxin chemicals from the site Scully had to borrow $50,000 from the federal government.

When it comes to deciding whether or not a dam should be removed, Scully believes that it is a really complicated question to answer. For him, it’s not just saving the fish but also what the dam has to offer.

“The overarching thing is I think about all of this, great worry about the fish, but you know what, in 50 years that’s the stupidest thing in the world you can worry about because there won’t be an environment,” said Scully. “We actually have to attack the greenhouse gas pollution and green energy problem as much as we attack anything else.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

MusicMDs now in Massachusetts

March 3, 2014 10:41 AM
The following was submitted by MusicMDs:

MusicMDs is a music-therapy-inspired, independent volunteer organization of high-school/college musicians. MusicMDs use their music to promote patient healing and recovery in healthcare institutions. They actively assist in the healing process by offering live, one-on-one musical performances to hospitalized patients.
MusicMDs add a new dimension to patient interaction by removing traditional barriers of language, education level, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status and incorporating live music in patient communication. Performers’ music-facilitated dialogue improves mood and outlook of patients who are isolated from their communities when admitted into a clinical environment of a hospital. 
Founded in Central Florida in 2009, MusicMDs currently serves four hospitals nationwide. Through this program, 23 students have amassed 1250+ hours serving over 7,500 patients at every stage of the disease and recovery spectrum. 

MusicMDs’s first New England branch was started at Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts by Esha Bansal in December 2012. In the LGH-MusicMDs partnership, six accomplished Phillips Academy Andover musicians currently serenade LGH patients, performing throughout the hospital’s units like surgery, pediatrics, dialysis, and intensive cardiac care. 

MusicMDs is a one-of-a-kind, student-run volunteer program which has effectively introduced music to interdisciplinary patient care. Please visit

"You have no idea what you just did for me. I still can't believe my eyes… I saw an angel come in to play me some music." – Lawrence General Hospital(LGH) Patient, 2/23/13

"This music is the relaxing tool I need for [my patient] to calm down and accept the IV." – LGH Pediatric Nurse, 12/14/13

“It’s obvious: you cure people with your music.” – LGH Family Member, 12/7/13

Seized animals brought to rescues in Dedham, Methuen

February 11, 2014 09:28 AM


MSPCA photos

Wendy, a pony seized by MSPCA-Angell Law Enforcement and currently in care at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen.

The following was submitted by the MSPCA:

The MSPCA-Angell’s Law Enforcement department announced Monday it has charged Dean Manual of Ludlow with 36 counts of animal cruelty after seizing 35 animals from his property last Friday.

Manual, 43, also faces two counts of assault and battery on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest. His arraignment has been scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The animals seized include: four donkeys; eight ponies; six pigs (including three piglets); four goats; four alpacas; four ducks; two sheep; one goose; one emu and a rabbit.

The MSPCA combined forces with the Animal Rescue League of Boston to remove the animals. Twelve animals — including donkeys, ponies, goats, and sheep — were taken to the Animal Rescue League’s facility in Dedham. The rest were taken to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen.

The majority of the animals are underweight — including a severely emaciated pony who will be placed on a monitored re-feeding program. Some of the ponies have overgrown hooves and all of the animals will undergo further veterinary exams to assess other health issues that must be treated.

One alpaca was so weak that he could not stand on his own and was sent to the Tufts veterinary center in Grafton. The animal remains in the critical care unit while veterinarians determine the full extent of his health issues and how they may be treated.

The MSPCA-Nevins Farm has set up a donation page to enable members of the community to contribute to the care of animals.

The MSPCA previously charged Manual with 10 separate counts of animal cruelty after a Dec. 9 inspection of his property by officer Christine Allenberg found ponies and donkeys living in pens with no food or water, and no protection from the elements. The animals were wet and covered with ice and snow. Officer Allenberg gave Manual until Dec. 17 to build a shelter and charged him when he failed to meet the deadline.

Manual denied the charges at his Dec. 23 arraignment and was scheduled to appear in court on March 5 on those charges.

“Our primary concern now is the health and well-being of these animals — and we’ll do everything we can to help them regain their health,” said Officer Allenberg. “And, simultaneously, we will vigorously pursue justice as we do with every cruelty investigation we take on.”


Vietnamese Pot-bellied pigs seized by MSPCA-Angell Law Enforcement and currently receiving care at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm.

MSPCA rescues sick cat tied to radiator in Lawrence

February 4, 2014 11:07 AM

The following was submitted by the MSPCA:

A 7-month-old cat named “Marte” is on the mend after he was found tied by his neck to the radiator of a Lawrence home.

cat1.jpgThe cat, removed from the home on Jan. 24 by the city’s animal control officer and taken to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in nearby Methuen, had swallowed a string weeks earlier, which had caused severe internal injury.

Marte underwent extensive surgery at the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston two days after being removed from the home. His owner, whose identity is not being released, is facing felony animal cruelty charges for failing to provide necessary veterinary care.

By the time Marte was found he had been vomiting and was extremely dehydrated, thin and weak. Worse, the string he swallowed had lodged under his tongue and stretched all the way down his throat, wrapping around and damaging his intestines.

At Nevins Farm, director Mike Keiley evaluated young Marte and was shocked by what he saw. “This cat had clearly gone weeks with this string lodged in his body, creating untold damage to his insides,” he said. “The fact that he was tied by his neck only added to his misery.”

Keiley immediately transferred Marte to Angell where surgeon Andrew Goodman evaluated him. Marte was already septic — a condition marked by extreme internal infection — because the string had punctured his intestines in multiple areas. Dr. Goodman concluded that while surgery to remove the string and repair his intestines carried only a 30 percent chance of survival, Marte would certainly die without it.

Dr. Goodman had to remove nearly half of Marte’s intestines and re-route his gall bladder so that excess bile could continue to drain properly from his body. After recovering at Angell for a day, Marte was moved back to MSPCA-Nevins Farm where he remains in foster care.

“He’s definitely not out of the woods yet and we won’t know for at least a couple weeks whether he may need additional surgery,” said Keiley. “But we’re confident that he’s going to make it - so much so that we’re looking for potential adopters to step forward. We want to give him a home in which he’ll know only safety, warmth, and comfort for the rest of his life.”

The MSPCA-Angell’s three statewide animal care and adoption centers take in, and place into new homes, thousands of homeless dogs, cats, and other animals every year. Marte represents just one of the many animals who arrive every day, and whose futures are brighter as a result of the care they receive. Readers can contribute directly toward the care of these animals by clicking here.

About the MSPCA

The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, nonprofit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit and like us on Facebook at

Dinner to honor Eagle Scouts

February 1, 2014 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by Steve Krause:

A total of 170 Boy Scouts from areas north of Boston achieved the rank of Eagle Scout during the year 2013 and will be honored at a dinner Friday, February 7, at the Wyndham Andover Hotel in Andover, MA.

The rank of Eagle is the highest in Boy Scouts. To achieve the award, scouts must have obtained the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life, earn 21 required merit badges and conceive and supervise an approved multi-faceted service project.
The speaker at the Eagle Dinner will be David Radue, the creator of the Game Design merit badge. 

MSPCA rescues 65 birds from Lawrence home

January 24, 2014 05:50 PM


MSPCA-Angell photos

65 birds were crammed together in dirty cages in the Lawrence home.

The following was submitted by the MSPCA:

Sixty five birds - including a variety of parrots, doves, and finches - were removed Friday from a dirty and overcrowded home in Lawrence and taken to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen, the organization has announced. The birds, crammed together in a small room that lacked proper heat and ventilation, were surrendered along with three young kittens.

The birds will live at the MSPCA-Nevins Farm until permanent homes can be found. The new arrivals have strained an already overloaded bird room at the facility's Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center, which is now housing close to 90 birds ranging from macaws, cockatiels, parrots, parakeets, and more.

The MSPCA came to the birds' aid after the Lawrence animal control officer received complaints about the birds being kept in unsanitary conditions in the home's enclosed porch. The owner of the birds, whose identity is not being released, agreed to turn the animals over to the MSPCA when it was clear that the living conditions posed a significant threat to their health. Nevins Farm Director Mike Keiley has made the birds' safety and comfort the top priority.

"Not only have these birds endured a level of overcrowding typically seen in hoarding conditions, but their socialization and overall health needs have gone unmet for years," he said. "Many of them are fragile and scared ... and you can imagine how bad the conditions were when for their own well-being we opted to take them from the home on a day when the temperature was hovering around 10 degrees."

For the most part the birds are healthy, despite being hungry and cold. Keiley expects all of animals, including the kittens, to recover and be placed into permanent homes.

The MSPCA-Nevins Farm is no stranger to large-scale animal surrenders. In November 2013, 33 guinea pigs were surrendered after living in an overcrowded home in New Hampshire. And 71 birds were taken in on a single day in February 2012.

Keiley stressed the need for both prospective adopters and donors to step forward and help create a brighter future for the birds. "Monetary donations are very important in these times because of the now greatly expanded number of animals who need our care," he said.

Anyone interested in adopting one or some of the animals is encouraged to visit the MSPCA-Nevins Farm Animal Care and Adoption Center at 400 Broadway, Methuen or visit Those who wish to donate to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm can do so by clicking here.

The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, nonprofit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit


Cockatiels make themselves at home at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm.

Danny's Dress Drive continues to help collect and donate hundreds of dresses

December 18, 2013 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by Danny’s Dress Drive:

WHO: Danielle Page, age 13, of North Andover
Eighth Grade, High Honor Roll Student at The Pike School in Andover
WHAT: Now in it’s fifth year, Danny’s Dress Drive began as an annual collection effort to help brighten the holidays of underprivileged girls. Seeing a need for boys’ dress clothes, and being asked often by donors if she could find new homes for nicer clothing items for young men, Danielle expanded her efforts this year and has collected over 100 total items to date, with more arriving daily.

 “I love the idea of making girls feel happy and special,” says Danielle. “Donating beautiful party dresses is one way I can help.” “You can’t really fail at trying to help, which is why I expanded to collection to include boys dress clothes.”

WHEN: Thursday, December 19, 2013 @ 4:00pm

WHERE: Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, MA
136 Water Street, Lawrence, MA 01841

WHY: Danny’s Dress Drive began when Miss Page picked a “Christmas Wish” tag off of a tree at her local parish. The tag was from an 8 year old girl who wished for a Christmas dress.  Since then, Danielle has collected and distributed over 500 dresses to girls throughout the Merrimack Valley.  This year’s donation puts the total for dresses over 550 and well over 600 for all clothing items!

DONORS: Classmates, Neighbors    2013  RECIPIENT: Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence
      Friends, Relatives, Local Individuals who learned about the effort.

SPECIAL NOTE: Danielle’s efforts caught the eye of the Our Generation Doll manufacturer and she became one of 9 girls from across the country featured on the doll boxes.  For the past two years, Danielle and her organization have been featured on the “Evelyn”, “Daisy”, “Sienna” and “Robyn” dolls. She was the only girl chosen from the Boston Area. The line celebrates girls giving back and is sold exclusively through Target.

WHAT”S NEXT:   •A 2014 Spring/Easter Dress Drive will kick-off in March.                             

Analysts say tech firms hiring in Boston area

December 13, 2013 06:27 PM
New Projects Spur Tech Hiring in Boston (via Dice News in Tech)

In analyzing Boston’s most-needed software skills this year, Ben Hicks, a partner in the Software Technology Search division of recruitment firm WinterWyman, noted larger companies seem to have begun projects after holding off since the recession.…

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