Karen Laubscher (behind) and Yulinda Noortman (front) - both founding members of BTAG with Tori (left) and Nala Moonbeam (right)
Written by founder Yulinda Noortman
Boston Terriers, with their quirky, comical faces, distinctive “tuxedo” markings and compact size, have soared in popularity as a must-have pet. Unfortunately, this has also led to a steep increase in irresponsible breeding, thoughtless buying, and vast numbers of these cheerful little dogs being mistreated and abandoned. The need for an organisation for Boston Terriers has never been greater. Enter the Boston Terrier Action Group (BTAG).
In mayhem there is unity
Every year-end, there’s a BTAG gathering where Bosties and their owners come together for a day of fun, games and reflection on the year past. We see all the rescues that were adopted that year and take great pride in seeing how they’ve blossomed. Families travel from all over KwaZulu-Natal to attend; we’ve had up to 50 Bosties attend on one day.
It’s utter mayhem and chaos and bostiliciously beautiful to experience 50 Bosties running loose and creating absolute havoc, to the great delight of their owners.
These events personify the very core of what we try and achieve at BTAG. Not only building a network of Bostie owners (rescues and non-rescues alike) to share in and support rescue efforts, but also to share the absolute joy this breed.
The faces of BTAG
BTAG is a registered NPC (Non-Profit Company) and we operate primarily in KwaZulu-Natal, although we’re always happy to take a road trip to anywhere in South Africa on a rescue mission.
We have three Directors, Charmaine Young, Karen Laubscher and Yulinda Noortman, and a taxi bus full of volunteers. Melany Wood and Rachel Manser share in the daily management responsibilities of the work we do. The core group that manages day-to-day operations is, of course, overseen by a Boston Terrier – Nala Moonbeam.
The BTAG volunteer network stretches from Salt Rock on the North Coast to Umzumbe on the South Coast and all along the corridor from Durban to the KZN Midlands. We also have out-of-province volunteers in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. The large area this network covers makes it easier to respond quickly to requests for help.
We rely heavily on social media tools to co-ordinate our work due to the vast distances between all of us.
Our team is fortunate to have the services of an animal physiotherapist, a dog trainer, a behaviourist and many years of cumulative experience regarding the breed.
About Boston Terriers
Bosties are active, intelligent, fun-loving and friendly dogs who make wonderful companions. They love to play and many enjoy chasing a ball or agility work. Their size makes them ideal for those living in small homes or even apartments, and their smooth coats are low-maintenance. They generally make great family pets.
However, there are some potential pitfalls – and this is where uneducated owners and breeders may fall short, resulting in unwanted or neglected Bosties. If not raised and trained properly, they can become stubborn and territorial. They’re also very needy in that they want to be with their people all the time – leaving a Boston Terrier all alone for long periods of time can result in a frustrated or even destructive dog.
As with other brachycephalic breeds, they are prone to certain health problems, particularly eye problems such as corneal ulcers, glaucoma and eye injury, as well as breathing trouble, snoring, and excessive flatulence. Although small, they still need plenty of exercise without overexertion in hot or cold weather, which can exacerbate breathing trouble.
In short, finding homes that understand the breed is important.
The steps to success
All dogs rescued are placed in our own homes to be taken care of until they’re ready for rehoming. Our foster families have different strengths, and we’re fortunate that we have such skilled people on the ground. We’ll never place a dog with a foster family if their home environment is not suited to that particular dog and its issues.
Whilst in foster care, we take care of all their medical needs first. When a dog is homed, we do so with a clear medical profile and knowledge of what the family might have to deal with in the future. At the same time the Bostie is assessed emotionally and behaviourally. Once the picture is complete, the rehab process begins. After this, it’s time to go searching for its new family.
Our adoption process is layered with attention to matching new homes with the dogs’ needs. There is no “first come, first served”. We set up play dates and sleep-overs and place no pressure on the finalisation of the adoption process. Only once we are certain that it’s as perfect as we can make it do we conclude the adoption.
We start by inviting applications and home-check the two most suitable applications to see which will best suit the dog. Once a decision is made by the management group, we take the foster dog to meet its potential new family at a play date; if that goes well, we step up to a sleep-over. Then we conclude the adoption contract. All our dogs are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and placed on medical aid. Upon adoption we invite new owners to take over the existing policy if possible.
New owners are also invited to our WhatsApp groups where we offer 24-hour support for any queries and issues that they might face.
Apart from the obvious rescue goal, we strive to educate wherever we get an opportunity. Education encompasses everything pertaining to the breed, to general pet care, to responsible pet ownership.
We just like talking DOGS! Whether this is at the markets we go to for fundraising or on social media forums, if we can talk about Boston Terriers, we will.
BTAG also plays a part in the broader discussions at every opportunity, such as about bad breeding practices, online buying and selling of pets, and the rights of animals.
Everybody working with BTAG is a volunteer – no one is remunerated and all funds go directly to the dogs. Every year, we endeavour to launch one big project, preferably a long-term income-generating endeavour.
In 2017, we launched the comprehensive First Aid Kit for Dogs. We also attend markets and sell Bostie paraphernalia and general pet goodies. Of late, we’ve even ventured into selling food at markets.
Our supporters’ donations are invaluable, especially the regular monthly donations that allow us to plan.
Find out more
Follow the Boston Terrier Action Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BTAG.ADOPT/)
If you’d like to donate to BTAG, their banking details are:
FNB account name BTAG – number 625 433 585 28 – branch code 250655.