UPDATE: Arraignments Begin for 27 Individuals in New England’s Largest Animal Cruelty Case
In late March, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced indictments against 27 people facing a collective 151 counts of animal cruelty, stemming from the horrific discovery of 1,400 animals living in squalid conditions on a 70-acre tenant farm in Westport, Mass. in July 2016. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was at the forefront of this unfathomable incident. This week arraignments got underway at Fall River Superior Court.
On Wednesday, property owner Richard Medeiros, who’s facing 21 counts of animal cruelty, was arraigned, and according to published reports “absolutely denies” each and every count against him.
Medeiros’ attorney stated that her client allegedly offered to help law enforcement when the investigation began last summer, but received no reply, and added that she believes that the 83-year-old will be cleared of all charges.
Every defendant who has appeared thus far has pleaded not guilty.
ARL team on site rescuing animals in Westport, July 2016.
The Westport incident unfolded in July 2016, when local law enforcement, aided by ARL’s Law Enforcement Services, discovered 1,400 animals living in unimaginable conditions.
“This situation is unparalleled to anything I’ve seen in my 37 years as an animal law enforcement officer,” ARL Investigator Lt. Alan Borgal said at the time. “The sheer number of animals in dire need of care, and the cruel and unsanitary conditions we found were deplorable. It took an all-out effort of state and local officials along with multiple humane organizations to get all those animals out of that horrible situation.”
ARL confiscated and cared for 124 animals from Westport, who desperately needed treatment for a variety of health and behavioral issues — nearly all of these animals have been rehabilitated and are living in new homes.
Criminally neglected, blind and deaf dog found on the side of road in Ware
Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) Law Enforcement Services is working with police in Ware, MA, to discover who was responsible for dumping a blind and deaf senior dog along Route 9, while ARL’s Shelter Veterinary Services are working hard to give this poor girl a second chance at life.
In early May, Eleanor, an 11-year-old Lhasa Apso mix, was discovered by a passerby wandering near mile marker 66 on Route 9 in Ware. Combined with her small size, the fact that Eleanor is also blind and deaf, it’s amazing she wasn’t struck by a car. After being secured by the region’s Animal Control Officer, ARL Law Enforcement Services was contacted, and Eleanor was brought to ARL’s Boston Animal Care & Adoption Center for further exams and treatment.
The degree of neglect to this animal is severe. Along with the hearing loss, a chronic “dry eye” condition went untreated, which may have contributed to her loss of vision. Chronically untreated skin disease has caused fur loss and extreme discomfort. Eleanor was also suffering from dental disease, matted fur, overgrown nails, and two masses on her head were also discovered.
Eleanor relaxing and awaiting a treat.
During her time at ARL, Eleanor has had one eye removed, the two masses were excised and biopsied, results of which were benign. She has also received a number of treatments to improve her health and comfort. While going through quite an ordeal and a difficult life, Eleanor is on the road to recovery and ARL is confident she will get a chance to find a new home.
This outcome is the result of ARL Law Enforcement’s strong relationships with police agencies across the Commonwealth and the organization’s commitment to help any and all animals in need. Because of the criminal level of neglect, abandonment, and the condition that Eleanor was found in, ARL and Ware Police are urging anyone with information to contact law enforcement.
Why Your Help Matters
ARL treats every animal that comes through our doors with excellent care, compassion and love. From exams, surgery, ongoing treatments and the likelihood of extended foster care, Eleanor’s rehabilitation will be lengthy, and also costly. ARL allocates nearly $500,000 annually on treatment and rehabilitation for animals like Eleanor. We receive no government funding, and rely solely on the generosity of individuals like YOU to support programs and services for animals in need.
Things to keep in mind if you’re bringing your furry friend along for the ride
Memorial Day Weekend is just days away, and for many of us it means three things — Honoring our service men and women; spending time with friends and family and; travelling!
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) want to remind you that busy holiday weekends can be stressful and dangerous for your pup.
While temperatures during Memorial Day Weekend are expected to be seasonal, even when the outside temperature is 70 degrees, the inside of a car can heat up to more than 100 degrees in a matter of minutes — even with the windows left partially opened! That’s why leaving your pet inside of a hot car is the most common cause of deadly heat stroke — it’s just TOO HOT FOR SPOT! Remember, pets don’t sweat like humans do and cannot cool their bodies efficiently in hot temperatures.
If you plan on taking your best friend along for the ride this weekend, here are some tips to help keep your dog safe:
- Never leave your pup alone in a parked car if they must travel with you. Not only are hot cars the most common cause for heat stroke, but leaving an animal inside a parked car is ILLEGAL in Massachusetts.
- Just like us, dogs need bathroom breaks! When driving long distances, be sure to periodically find a safe area to pull over to allow your pup to do their business, and get a little fresh water and perhaps some food.
- Always keep your canine on a leash or in a carrier if they must be outside. Find a shady spot with plenty of air flow and lots of fresh water.
- Keep them away from dangerous objects. Secure your pet a good distance from sparklers, BBQs, and pools. Additionally, there are many plants and flowers that can be toxic to dogs, so make sure your pet is under constant supervision while outdoors.
- Loud noises can be spooky! Things like fireworks and other loud noises can make a dog “fearfully aggressive,” so monitor your dog and keep them calm, especially around children.
- Make sure your dog’s microchip and ID tag information is current. Many animal shelters report increases of “stray” animals during holidays due to the number of pets running away from the noise and excitement. Make sure your contact information is current and always on your dog’s collar to ensure an easy reunion should they be separated from you.
Prevention is responsible pet ownership. When in doubt, leave your pet at home in a quiet, cool room. Turn on a TV or radio to help distract from outside noises and leave them free to roam around so they don’t feel too confined.
In November 2016, Question 3, the Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, was supported by 78 percent of voters in Massachusetts. The landslide victory made it clear that citizens throughout the Commonwealth strongly support modest animal welfare standards. Now, certain lawmakers who opposed Question 3 are looking to establish a livestock board which would jeopardize the establishment of these modest standards.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), along with partner organizations HSUS and the MSPCA, are strongly opposed to H. 441 (An Act to Promote the Care and Well-Being of Livestock).
H. 441 would put critical animal protections and food safety decisions in the hands of factory farmers and their allies with all livestock regulations required to be approved by a 2/3 majority. Only 2 of 13 board seats are allotted to animal welfare organizations (ARL and MSPCA).
“It is our belief that H. 441 would remove all of the hard-earned gains for farm animals that the citizens of Massachusetts obviously supported by the overwhelming passage of Question 3,” said Nadine Pellegrini, ARL’s Director of Advocacy. “H. 441 is misleading to the extent that it names ARL to the board without its consent and over its opposition to the establishment of such a board. The voters should not be deceived by this tactic and should not think that this bill will further humane protection for farm animals.”
Call to Action
ARL encourages you to contact your state representative or state senator and urge them to oppose Bill H. 411, which would create an unbalanced and unaccountable board that may endanger protections for Massachusetts’s farm animals.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston played host for more than 200 of ARL’s biggest supporters during the third annual Whiskers & Wine President’s Council Spring Reception.
The annual event gives ARL’s corporate sponsors, Board of Directors, Leadership Council, President’s Council (those who donate $1K or more annually), volunteers, and staff the opportunity to toast and celebrate its most committed supporters, who make our important work possible.
Throughout the evening, the historic Oval Room was alive with conversations containing a common thread — ARL’s continued excellence and stand-alone innovation in being an unwavering champion for animals in need. Click here to see photos.
During the speaking program portion of the evening, key ARL stakeholders discussed the impact that our donors’ generosity has on the thousands of animals who receive care through ARL’s programs and services each year. ARL served 17,884 animals in 2016 alone!
Malcolm McDonald, ARL’s Board Chair, kicked off the speaking program in grand style, with a big thank you to everyone who made the event, and the organization’s important work possible. He spoke emotionally about the bond we all share with animals, and with excitement about the innovative vision for ARL’s future.
ARL President Mary Nee also shared the successes of 2016, and the progress that has been made during Year 1 of ARL’s new mission statement of being an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes.
“Our new mission and vision will guide our work in the years to come by providing community based service, getting to the root cause of problems, helping both people and animals, supporting accessible community-based veterinary services, and advocating for permanent changer to law and policy protecting animals,” Nee said.
To demonstrate ARL’s new mission in action, guests enjoyed a film highlighting the organization’s “Community Cat Initiative” which is the first of its kind in Massachusetts. Click here to see an in-house produced video about this exciting initiative!
Walter Kenyon, ARL’s Leadership Council Chair, closed out the evening by sharing his thoughts and excitement about ARL’s future, and once again thanked those in the audience who are truly committed to making a difference in the lives of animals in need.
VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO… Our generous donors for expressing your love for animals, compassion, and kindness through your support of the Animal Rescue League of Boston!
…and to our corporate supporters of Whiskers & Wine 2017…
BEST IN SHOW SPONSORS
TOP DOG SPONSORS
City Side Subaru
Malcolm McDonald & Susan Passoni
TOP CAT SPONSORS
Fish & Bone
Hounds About Town
Grossman Marketing Group
Blue Hills Bank
Dedham Savings Bank
Boston Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa
Lee Ann & Michael Leahy
Marsh & McLennan Agency
ANIMAL ADVOCATE SPONSORS
Bowditch & Dewey
D’Tails Pet Boutique
East Boston Savings Bank
Kirkiles & Associates Commercial Insurance
Mark J. Lanza, Esq.
Sullivan & Worcester, LLP.
Tufts Associated Health Plans, Inc.
A Special Thanks to the Donors of our 2017 Raffle Prizes:
Boston Red Dog Resort & Spa
Boston Veterinary Care
D’Tails Pet Boutique
Kim Roderiques, Photographer
Paula Ogier, Artist
Unleashed by Petco
NEU Police assist in rescue
Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) Rescue Services were dispatched Monday afternoon to the campus of Northeastern University in Boston to rescue a female black duck and her 11 ducklings that had become boxed-in near a building window well along World Series Way.
ARL rescue agent Mike Brammer got an assist from Northeastern Police Officers Alexandra Boudreau and John Sweeney, who helped keep the ducklings safe by blocking off a storm drain, and also kept onlookers out of the area.
Brammer was able to capture the mother duck and her young with nets, and once placed in transport crates, officers gave ARL an escort to the Back Bay Fens, where the ducks were released into the water.
Mama duck and ducklings walking along window well.
Ducklings ready to travel!
Mama and ducklings into the Back Bay Fens.
Mama and ducklings into the Back Bay Fens.
ARL's Mike Brammer with NEU Officers Boudreau and Sweeney.
ARL's Mike Brammer with NEU Officers Boudreau and Sweeney.
ARL receives many calls during the spring for baby birds in possible distress, and here are tips to follow should you come across a bird who may be in need of help.
Ready to Respond
ARL is the only animal welfare agency in Massachusetts with a technically-trained rescue team that responds to animal-related emergencies and rescue situations. ARL Rescue Services can be contacted at (617) 426-9170.
More than 100 Animal Control Officers Participate
In 2016, Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) Law Enforcement Services logged 151 assists with local police and state agencies. This level of success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation and comradery between municipalities and ARL, who are all working for a common goal.
To further build relationships with state and local agencies, ARL recently held a series of law enforcement workshops to discuss, in an open forum, how to better utilize the state’s “Tethering Laws” (MGL 140 Sec. 174E and 174F), which were amended and became law in November 2016. More than 100 animal control officers (ACO’s) from throughout the Commonwealth attended.
The three sessions were held at ARL’s Animal Care & Adoption Centers in Boston and Dedham, as well as the Dennis Police Department on Cape Cod. ARL Law Enforcement was thrilled with the participation.
ARL lecture at Dennis Police Department.
“It was a significant turnout,” said Darleen Wood, ARL’s Associate Director of Law Enforcement. “Lectures like these give ARL the chance to work closely with municipalities from throughout the state, to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that the ACO’s from those cities and towns know that ARL is always ready to assist their agency when animals are in need.”
“It was a great training session and it was nice to get some clarification,” said Renee Robichaud, ACO for the City of Westfield. “There’s been a lot of talk about the tethering law so it’s great to have some specifics so we as ACO’s have something to refer to when out in the field investigating.”
MGL 140 Sec. 174E allows ACO’s or Massachusetts State Police Special Officers with ARL or MSPCA the ability to cite a dog owner for:
- Excessive tethering or chaining
- Inadequate shelter
- Dogs being left out in dangerous weather
- Living conditions that may cause an animal physical or emotional harm
MGL 140 Sec. 174F, dubbed by ARL as “Too Hot for Spot”, allows law enforcement, ACO’s, and firefighters:
- The legal ability to remove any animal left in a vehicle where conditions may impact the animal’s health
- Allows the public to intervene, however only after specific procedures have been followed
As the temperatures rise, utilizing these statutes will be vital to protecting the health and safety of dogs across the state during the summer months, however the statute also includes extreme cold temperatures as well.
“Both of these statutes allow for the animal welfare professionals to step in before an animal experiences unnecessary suffering or even death,” Wood said. “The legislation supports animal welfare so animals can find protection from cruel or abusive situations and those inflicting such behavior can be held accountable for their actions.”
Officers may write warnings and citations for violations, with fines ranging from $50 for a first offense to $500 for subsequent offenses. Penalties may also include impoundment or loss of ownership of the dog.
Here to Help
Your vigilance is key, and if you witness or suspect animal cruelty or neglect, ARL’s Law Enforcement Services is here to help. To contact ARL Law Enforcement, call (617) 226-5610, however, if you see an animal in immediate danger, contact your local police department or animal control officer FIRST.
ARL Co-Hosts Event with Local and National Animal Welfare Organizations
Hundreds of animal advocates descended upon the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House in Boston this week during Humane Lobby Day, to meet with and ask elected officials to join the fight for animals in need by passing stronger animal protection laws.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) co-sponsored the event with several local and national animal welfare organizations, and with several big legislative wins in the past couple of years, the event is a reflection that there is strength in numbers.
Great Hall, Massachusetts State House.
Advocates checking out ARL's table.
Advocates getting information on proposed legislation.
A sea of red at ARL's information table.
Humane Lobby Day is a wonderful opportunity for ARL to connect with advocates.
A service dog keeps an eye on things in the Great Hall.
ARL's Director of Advocacy Nadine Pellegrini talks with the press.
ARL President Mary Nee and Nadine Pellegrini go over some notes.
ARL President Mary Nee addressing the crowd.
An advocate liking what she hears!
ARL Advocacy Director Nadine Pellegrini addressing the crowd.
Senator Mark Montigny accepting the ARL Unwavering Champion for Animals award.
Senator Montigny addressing the crowd.
Senator Montigny's staff.
ARL posing with Senator Montigny and staff.
Another great turnout for Humane Lobby Day!
“There is absolutely strength in numbers,” said Jean Bresciani, an advocate and veterinarian. “It’s good to meet with people from all walks of life and coming together for a common and very important cause.”
“I see a whole room of champions for animals,” said Mary Nee, ARL’s President. “It takes strength and courage to push forward the agenda for animals, and every person here is truly an unwavering champion.”
The annual Lobby Day event included a handful of legislative speakers, as well as comments from every participating organization, including ARL. Additionally, ARL awarded its first annual “Unwavering Champion for Animals” award to Senator Mark C. Montigny and his staff for their continued and collective efforts in bringing animal welfare laws to the legislative forefront.
“Like Senator Montigny, his staff is committed to humane protection and follow-through, being patient and tenacious,” said Nadine Pellegrini, ARL’s Director of Advocacy. “They are open to new ideas, and very generous with their time and assistance.”
ARL Legislative Agenda
ARL supports five pieces of legislation that were filed for this legislative session, while opposing two others. As these bills move through the committee and hearing process, ARL will keep you posted on their progress, so check back often for updates!
Three-Legged Cat Ready for Puurfect Home
In his first year of life, “Sal” has endured quite a lot, but with perseverance and the help of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), the rest of this handsome tabby’s years should be smooth sailing.
Sal was in rough shape when he came to ARL’s Boston Animal Care & Adoption Center in late February; he was thin, his fur was grungy, and he was noticeably limping. An initial exam revealed previous trauma consistent with being hit by a car. Multiple fractures on Sal’s right front leg hadn’t healed correctly, and he had also suffered a left hip dislocation. Despite all the injuries and chronic pain, Sal was in good spirits and very friendly. His road to recovery however, would not be an easy one.
“Because of the poor healing of the fractures and his complete disuse of his right front limb, it was decided that the best (surgical) plan would be to amputate Sal’s right leg,” said Dr. Chelsea Reinhard, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Resident.
Additionally, Sal needed surgery to address the hip dislocation. A femoral head and neck ostectomy, or FHO was performed, and is a procedure that includes removing the top part of the thigh bone involved in the ball-in-socket hip joint. This helps relieve the pain, and will allow Sal to form a false hip joint and improve mobility. The two surgeries were performed at a partner organization simultaneously, which meant less time on the operating table, but a more difficult recovery.
Sal just after surgery.
Needing a quiet place and constant monitoring to heal, Sal has been in foster care for nearly two months, and because of his grit and determination, has made tremendous progress.
“He’s made a slow but steady recovery from surgery,” said Dr. Erin Doyle, ARL’s Lead Veterinarian for Shelter Veterinary Services. “Having both surgeries at the same time was necessary medically, but made for a bit of a challenging recovery despite extensive pain management. Thankfully he did steadily improve with his function of his three remaining legs over the time he’s been in foster care.”
Ready to go Home
It’s been tough couple of months, but Sal has shown his resiliency and remains a bright-eyed, loving young adult; and after just a few days, he has found his forever home and will join a family that already has a three-legged kitty! A happy ending for Sal, and you can help an animal find his/her own storybook ending by vising an ARL shelter and adopting! For more information, head to our adoption page.
Celebrations Mark Volunteer Appreciation Week
It’s Thank You Thursday, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to extend a very special thank you to the nearly 550 volunteers that allow the organization to fulfill its mission of being an unwavering champion for animals in need.
ARL volunteers give thousands of hours of kindness every year, performing a variety of duties with one goal in mind – keeping our animals happy and healthy. Each and every one of ARL’s volunteers are dedicated, caring, and inspiring.
“I’m so lucky to have my job revolve around such amazing people,” said Debby Vogel, ARL’s Associate Director of Volunteer Services. “I’m so thankful for all those who donate their time and their hearts to ARL!”
To show our appreciation, this past week ARL held special volunteer events at its Boston, Dedham, and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers.
Boston volunteer celebration.
A number of volunteers stood out this past year, earning special honors:
Best of Boston – Betsy Jones
Best of Boston – Liz Watson
Dedham’s Most Dignified – Desiree Artu
Cape’d Crusader – Lesley Roberts
Mobile’s Most Marvelous – Kim Cochrane
ARL’s Unsung Hero – Esther Mastrangelo
Admin’s Above and Beyond – Debbie Owen
Our Four Footed Friends Favorite Foster Parent – Molly Montgomery
Rookie’s Magic – Jamal Effee
Additionally, for the first time, ARL staff were also honored by volunteers:
Boston Volunteers Choice – Michelle Polin
Brewster Volunteers Choice – Dawn Lee Laub
Dedham Volunteers Choice – Alicia Muller
If you love animals and are looking to lend your hand and heart to helping animals in need, visit our volunteer page for more information and opportunities.