Animal Welfare Positioning & Policies

For well over a century, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has responded to an ever-changing world and the constantly evolving challenges with respect to animal welfare and protection. How we respond to these challenges reflects not only what ARL stands for and strives to achieve, but everything we hope society will be and will do when it comes to humane animal protection and care.

Animal Welfare Position Statements

Our core belief has never changed – animals are a fundamental part of our world and they deserve the highest level of care, protection, and kindness. The following position statements are grounded in our beliefs and our experience with animals and people. These statements will not only inform the public, our supporters, and our veterinary team, adoption, rescue services, special police investigations, and advocacy efforts but will also serve as guideposts for ARL’s actions in the future. Like our world, these statements are designed to be flexible and open to change to meet new challenges.

The following position statements have been approved by ARL’s Board of Directors.

Euthanasia Policy FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Euthanasia and “No Kill”:

Q: Is the Animal Rescue League of Boston a “No Kill” Shelter

A: The term “No Kill” does not have a standard, universally-accepted definition. One common definition of “No Kill” is a “save rate” of 90 percent of the dogs and cats entering the shelter. When most people ask the question, they want to know:

1. If animals at our shelter have a time limit on how long they can stay, and
2. If our shelter euthanizes healthy adoptable animals in order to create space for newly arriving animals.

The answer to those questions is No, ARL does not euthanize on the basis of length of stay, space, and/or breed.

Q: What is a Live Release Rate or “Save Rate”.

A: A Live Release Rate or “Save Rate” is calculated by dividing live outcomes by total intake of animals. These outcomes include adoptions, return to owner, and transfer to another rescue or shelter organization. It should be noted that there is a lack of uniformity in how animal welfare organizations across the country report their “save rates”.

Q: What is ARL’s Live Release Rate?

A: ARL’s Live Release Rate for dogs and cats entering our shelter is 90%.Our Live Release Rate is calculated as defined by the ASPCA Life Release Rate. See 2012-2016 graph below.

Q: How does ARL mange its shelter population to avoid the use of euthanasia?

A: ARL has a flexible admissions policy. We take in animals based on our capacity to care for that particular animal and any health or behavioral issues an animal might have. Sometimes, because of a complex medical or behavioral issue, an animal in our care cannot be placed in a home. We will work to identify another program that could help. For cats that are unable to adapt to indoor life, for example, we work to place them in our “barn cat” program. We also maintain a network of dedicated foster volunteers who can take home animals that have special needs until we are able to find their forever home.

Download ARL’s Euthanasia Policy (PDF)

aspca live release rate