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

The ARL exists in order to rescue domesticated animals and wildlife from cruelty, abandonment, and neglect. Care and protection of these animals is our mission.

The ARL achieves a high placement rate for the animals in its care because of our commitment to rehabilitation. Our shelters have dedicated veterinary and shelter personnel who evaluate animals for health conditions, stress, and other behavioral issues; we make every effort to provide medical and behavioral care to rehabilitate all animals.

Using positive training methods, we work on-site with animals with behavioral conditions that prevent immediate placement in an adoptive home. Occasionally, we place them in foster homes with trained and experienced “foster parents” to socialize them and teach them how to live with people. Such intervention improves both the quality of life for individual animals and the chance of finding adoptive homes for them.

Unfortunately, in our work, we confront animals suffering from a wide range of injuries, illnesses, and behavioral conditions. Due to the broad scope of our rescue and law enforcement programs, we bring in high numbers of at-risk, displaced and compromised animals.

While we make best efforts to treat animals, there will be times when humane euthanasia is the most compassionate and responsible course for the animal’s well-being and for public health and safety. When euthanasia is performed, it is done with respect and care by highly trained, compassionate staff.

We are proud that at ARL we look at each animal individually to assess its particular needs. Every year, our goal is to increase the number of animals that we are able to place in loving homes. We do not use euthanasia for population control of adoptable animals in the shelter, nor do we have a timeframe after which an animal is euthanized if it is not adopted.

When an animal is not able to be placed for adoption due to complex medical or behavior issues, we may transfer it to appropriate breed-specific rescue organizations or identify other options such as barn placement for cats that are unable to integrate into indoor life.

We believe that through careful evaluation of individual animals, we will make the decision that is in the best interest of each animal. This means that, unfortunately, there will be some for whom euthanasia is the most compassionate and responsible outcome.

ARL is committed to improving favorable outcomes for an increasing number of animals through the promotion of accessible spay/neuter services and adoptions, the use of foster homes, and the encouragement of responsible pet ownership.

Download ARL’s Euthanasia Policy (PDF)

View ARL’s Euthanasia FAQs (PDF)