ARL Reflections: Looking Back at an Amazing 2017

Community Cats Initiative Shows Immediate, Large-Scale Impact

In 2017, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) became the first organization in Massachusetts with staff specifically dedicated to helping “community cats”. These cats can be characterized as friendly strays, abandoned or feral; as well as owned cats that are allowed to roam outdoors. There are an estimated 700,000 community cats living in the state and face a variety of dangers, including starvation, illness, over-population, harsh weather, and other predators.

As an unwavering champion for animals in need, ARL decided that the challenges community cats face required our attention and action.

CommCatsVid_PlayWatch a 2017 recap video of ARL’s Community Cats Initiative

ARL’s Community Cats Initiative is a two-pronged approach. Our rescue agents respond to calls regarding community cat colonies, and after an initial assessment, a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) plan is formulated for that particular colony.

Once trapped, these animals are brought to the Community Surgical Clinic at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center for treatment and surgery.

TNR is one of the most humane and effective ways to stop the cycle of homelessness among cats. Along with surgery, the TNR plan includes vaccines, and whether each cat will be returned to the colony, returned to their owner if they are microchipped, or be put up for adoption at ARL’s Boston, Brewster, or Dedham shelters if they are deemed friendly.

Throughout the year, ARL’s Community Cats Initiative rescued more than 600 homeless cats, and astonishingly just 18 percent were returned to their habitat. That means that more than 400 cats have been taken off the streets and adopted into loving homes!

Let’s help even more animals in 2018 — TOGETHER!

We are excited about our commitment to help keep community cats safe and healthy in the habitats in which they live but we need your investment in order to provide the best outcome for these cats. To fully support these innovative programs and help more than 1,500 cats lead healthier lives, we need to raise $204,000 annually. Thank you for supporting ARL and being a champion for animals!


ARL Reflections: Looking Back at an Amazing 2017

Terrific Transformations!

Stray, abandoned, surrendered, rescued, law enforcement cases — Animals arrive at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) a variety of ways, and when they come to us, they need an abundance of care, support, and love — but some need more than others. It’s astounding to chart the progress of some of these animals, and when you can see a marked improvement, it’s proof-positive that ARL is truly a Champion for Animals.

Pictures say a thousand words, so WATCH these transformations unfold before your eyes!TransformationVid_Play




maybelle 8.2.3

Maybelle, May, 2017. Maybelle, a one-year-old pot-bellied pig was in the care of ARL for more than six months. What began as a tale of woe, turned into a tale of triumph!



eleanor blog thumbEleanor, May 2017. Eleanor, an 11-year-old Lhasa Apso mix, is lucky to be alive. Found wandering along with side of a busy road, Eleanor’s turn-around was awe-inspiring and emotional.



Phil ThumbPhil, February 2017. Phil, a two-year-old Maltese, was discovered abandoned along the side of the road in Hingham. He was an instant media sensation, and his transformation broke the cuteness scale!



Zim is ready to go to his forever home!

Zim, February 2017. Zim, an 11-month-old tabby classic, went from a stray, to a rescue, to a surgical patient, to adopted! His transformation was all about improving his quality of life.



sal blog 500x500Sal, May 2017. In his one year of life, Sal had endured quite a lot. Suffering a series of traumas, Sal needed a lot of TLC but in the end he found his perfect forever home.


Let’s Help Even More Animals in 2018 — Together!

The above stories are just a tiny sample-size of the work that ARL is doing every day. Animals at ARL receive the specialized veterinary care, kind attention, and socialization they need to thrive — only because of YOUR generous donations. ARL receives no government funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals like you to keep our important work going. We need your continued support today to ensure we start the new year fully-funded to respond to the nearly 18,000 animals who will depend on us for help. Your tax-deductible donation will provide the critical resources necessary to help thousands of homeless animals, family pets, wildlife, and communities most in need in 2018.

Thank you for being a Champion for Animals and for giving generously today!


A Gift for You, and a Gift for Animals in Need

Century Bank and Magic 106.7 Making the Holidays a Little Brighter

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is one of a handful of local charities taking part of a special holiday contest on Magic 106.7, in conjunction with Century Bank.

Listeners on Christmas Morning MAGIC with David O’Leary and Sue Tabb have a chance to win $250 to spend on holiday shopping (or themselves), and an additional $250 to donate to ARL; Mass Eye & Ear; The Shadow Fund; Northeast ARC; or the National Brain Tumor Society.

mary magic blog

ARL President Mary Nee talks with Magic’s David O’Leary and Sue Tabb.

In advance of the contest, ARL President Mary Nee sat down with David and Sue for an in-depth interview about ARL’s history, and the life-saving work the organization does on a daily basis to help animals in need. To see the interview click here!

How to Win

It’s simple. Listen weekday mornings as Magic kicks off its commercial-free hour at 8:15 a.m. David and Sue will announce the Making Holiday MAGIC Song of the Day. When you hear it play that day before 9:15 a.m., be the 10th caller at 617-931-1067 to win!

A Huge Holiday Thank You

ARL would like to thank both Century Bank and Magic 106.7 for being Champions for Animals and for giving a helping hand to animals in need this holiday season!


Emma Undergoes Life-Saving Surgery at BVC

Family Pet on the Mend Thanks to Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund

Emma, a sweet 10-year-old Chihuahua, was brought to Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) because her owners noticed her belly had become bloated and assumed she was putting on some extra pounds. She was also lethargic and was not acting like her normal self.

Upon examination, it was discovered that Emma had a very bad infection in her uterus, called pyometra. The infection was now in her bloodstream, causing the belly bloat and making her extremely sick. Pyometra, if not treated quickly and aggressively, can be life-threatening.

Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund

Emma needed surgery — a $1,350 surgery. Her owners love her very much, but could not afford the supportive care and emergency surgery needed to remove the uterus and kill the infection. Fortunately, Emma’s owners qualified for the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund, which provides financial assistance to families with limited economic means in veterinary emergencies.

Despite some concerns, the decision was made to move ahead with the procedure.

“She was so sick, we were not sure she would survive the surgery, but everyone at BVC fell in love with her and wanted to give her a chance,” said Dr. Nicole Breda, BVC’s Lead Veterinarian. “Without the surgery she would not have survived much longer.”


Emma showed her toughness, and the surgery was a complete success. During her follow up, Emma was alert, playful, and her belly bloat had somewhat subsided. She is healthy and back to being herself. Her owners have their beloved family pet back and gleefully exclaimed to Dr. Breda how happy and thankful they were for BVC and the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund. To see more of Emma click here!

Give homeless animals and family pets the chance to heal  

Animals with serious medical conditions as a result of illness, accidental injury, neglect, or abuse make their way into the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) every single day with no one to cover the hefty expense of emergency surgery, treatment, or rehabilitation.

When you make a gift to the Alice T. Whitney Helping Hands Fund, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $25,000, to provide financial assistance for:

  •   Critically ill or injured homeless animals that come into ARL’s Animal Care and Adoption Centers with no one to care for them.
  •   Clients of Boston Veterinary Care, a clinic supporting the programs of ARL, who want to keep their family pets, but do not have the economic means to pay for their veterinary expenses.

Only with your support can animals in the most critical of need receive the high-quality veterinary care necessary to gain a second chance at life. Click the red button below to…



A Home for the Holidays: Meet Matty!

Energetic 10-Year-Old Podengo Portugueso Pequeno Waiting for His Forever Home

Matty came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center from another shelter in October, and while he has garnered interest with his stunning looks and energetic personality, nearly two months later he’s still awaiting his new family.

A Dedham staff favorite, Matty is the best of both worlds — he loves his outdoor time and long walks, but is just as happy to curl up and cuddle. And when it comes to petting, Matty will actually stare at you until you pet him! Click here to see Matty in action!

Behavioral Challenges

The 10-year-old Podengo Portugueso Pequeno was surrendered for displaying stressing behaviors around small children when his personal space was invaded — a common issue for some dogs. He also has a tendency to chase small animals and cats, and will bark at strangers entering the home or yard.

Matty is however housetrained, and knows basic commands.

With all these behavioral factors, Matty would prefer to be in an adult home without children, and be the king of the castle i.e. no other pets in the home!

Why Matty Needs a Home for the Holidays

Even with regular human socialization, the shelter environment can increase stress levels and even cause an animal to become depressed. While ARL’s dedicated staff and volunteers make sure that each individual animal gets the love, support and attention they need, what Matty really needs is a home to call his own.

Animals Depend on Us — and We Depend on You!

The greatest gift for Matty this holiday season is a forever home, and if you can’t provide a home for him, you can always support ARL to allow us to continue to care for animals like Matty. ARL receives no government funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals like you to keep our important work going. We need your continued support today to ensure we start the new year fully-funded to respond to the nearly 18,000 animals who will depend on us for help. Your tax-deductible donation will provide the critical resources necessary to help thousands of homeless animals, family pets, wildlife, and communities most in need in 2018.

Thank you for being a Champion for Animals and for giving generously today!


Kittens with Rare Congenital Condition Looking for Purrfect Family

Special Kittens Require Special Accommodations

Fifteen-week-old Baxter and Suzie recently came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) as owner surrenders and are like typical kittens in many ways. They’re energetic, spunky, and are just starting to learn their way in the world. However these siblings are also unlike many other kittens, as they were born with a rare congenital defect that prohibits normal ambulation; and will need to be adopted into homes able to accommodate their limitations.

Radial Agenesis is an orthopedic condition were the radius — the bone that goes from our elbow to our wrist — did not form properly. These kittens are essentially missing bones in their front limbs, as well as one hind leg. The condition results in bowed-in front legs, where the kittens walk on their wrists instead of their paws. Click here to see video of these siblings in action!

While little can be done to correct this condition, many cats, including Baxter and Suzie, with Radial Agenesis can have an excellent quality of life and have no idea that they are not “normal”. Potential adopters will have to keep the following accommodations in mind:

  •         Carpeted Floors. For Baxter and Suzie, carpets give them the necessary traction to get around — especially stairs.
  •         Easily Accessible Basics. Providing food and water dishes that don’t tip over and a litter box with a lowered opening are key.
  •         Indoor only. Baxter and Suzie should be indoor animals only, as they lack the ability to quickly flee from outdoor dangers.
  •         Weight Management. Because of their abnormal gait, there is a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life. Keeping them at a healthy weight along with regular veterinary visits is recommended.

A Home for the Holidays

Suzie and Baxter have done well in separate foster homes, and will soon be ready to find their forever home so stay tuned! If you are ready to open up your heart and home for an animal in need this holiday season, please check ARL’s adoption page to find your perfect match or visit our Boston, Dedham, or Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers to meet your next furry friend in person.


A Home for the Holidays: Meet Ellen

Special Needs Puppy Looking for Her Forever Home

UPDATE: Adopted!

Ellen, a beautiful four-month-old Feist-mix, came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) as part of a transport from our partners in North Carolina in November.

A few days after arriving at ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, Ellen suffered a seizure, and has since shown mild neurologic symptoms including a spastic nature to her gait while playing and a lack of coordination.

Preliminary exams and diagnostic tests have not pinpointed the root cause of the seizure or the ongoing issues that have followed.

It should be noted that while exhibiting neurological symptoms, Ellen is also displaying typical puppy behaviors. She’s energetic, loves attention and playtime, and is absolutely adorable! To see Ellen being playful click here.

Needing Extra Care

Adopting a puppy is an extraordinary commitment, but in Ellen’s case she may need more than learning manners, house training, and everything else puppies need to become well-adjusted adult dogs.

“There is a fair chance that her symptoms are caused by hydrocephalus, a congenital defect in which excess fluid accumulates around the brain,” said Dr. Erin Doyle, Lead Veterinarian for ARL Shelter Veterinary Services. “The prognosis for hydrocephalus is very dependent on its severity. In some cases, hydrocephalus can be treated surgically or managed medically to control symptoms. Ellen’s lack of any further seizures and the mild nature of her ongoing symptoms are positive indicators, but unfortunately do not guarantee a good long term prognosis.”

The best way to determine her diagnosis and prognosis would be through a referral to a veterinary neurologist and an MRI. An MRI can run $1,500-3,000, however, whether this is necessary will be determined by Ellen’s ongoing symptoms. Ellen’s new family will have to monitor her closely and establish a plan with their regular veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.

Have Some Love to Give?

Ellen is waiting for her forever family, and so are many others. If opening your heart and home to an animal in need this holiday season is up your alley, we encourage you to visit ARL’s Boston, Dedham or Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers to find your perfect match!


PRESS RELEASE: ARL Receives $20,000 Grant From PetSmart Charities to Support Daily Shelter Operations to Help Local Pets in Need Thrive

November 30, 2017 — BOSTON, MA — Today, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) announced its receipt of a new $20,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America. The new grant will support the daily operations of ARL so they can continue their efforts to help local shelter pets thrive as they await adoption.

In addition to providing funding for general shelter needs, ARL’s grant will help to cover some of the costs associated with providing much needed dental procedures for 102 senior shelter animals.

“Providing dental cleanings and necessary tooth extractions allows these animals to enjoy a better quality of life and improves their overall health,” said Caitlin Tomlinson, ARL’s Associate Director of Shelter Operations. “This translates into a higher degree of adoptability and shorter shelter stays. Our goal is to get these animals into loving homes, and the generosity of Pet Smart Charities is allowing us to do just that.”

In animal welfare, funding for general shelter operations can be hard to come by. That’s why PetSmart Charities identified this as an area of great need to its adoption partners and grantees and developed this new grant category.

“Shelter operations grants are helping to ensure organizations like the Animal Rescue League of Boston have access to the funding and resources they need,” said Sima Thakkar, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “Together, we’re helping to reduce the length of time pets will need to be in the care of the ARL and increasing the likelihood they’ll soon find the forever home they deserve.”

Shelter Operations is just one of PetSmart Charities ten grant categories designed to support animal welfare organizations and nonprofits as part of their newly expanded mission to find lifelong loving homes for all pets by supporting programs that bring people and pets together. Funding from PetSmart Charities supports best practices that help pets thrive in a shelter environment until they find their forever family and offers funding for shelter-based programs that improve adoptions, reduce pets’ length of stay and strengthen shelter infrastructure.


About PetSmart Charities®

PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization with a mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together.  In addition to finding homes for almost 500,000 shelter pets each year through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities provides funding to non-profits aligned with its mission through four key areas of grant support:  Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets; and Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the pin pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores.  In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 90 cents of every dollar donated and has become the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, donating about $300 million to date. PetSmart Charities, a 501(c)(3) organization, has received the Four Star Rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 14 years in a row — placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization.  To learn more visit

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UPDATE: ARL’s Preparedness Provides Quick Turnaround

Dogs Rescued on Thanksgiving Eve Ready for Adoption

Update! Two of the six cats rescued from unsanitary conditions are now up for adoption at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

On Thanksgiving Eve, while many of us were busy travelling or preparing for the holiday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was assisting authorities in Middlesex County, removing animals from a hoarding situation.

In all, 26 animals were removed from the home, including 20 Shih Tzu dogs and puppies and six Siamese cats.

The animals were thin, dehydrated, and hungry. Additionally, many of the animals were unkempt and had feces and urine stuck in their matted fur.

ARL Rescue Services, Law Enforcement, Shelter Operations and Shelter Veterinary Medicine collaborated for a quick response, removing the animals and shuttling them to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, where they were triaged, examined, fed, and kept warm.

The dogs and cats were monitored by staff on Thanksgiving and into the weekend. The animals quickly put on weight, and just seven days after being removed from the situation, six of the dogs are now being made available for adoption!

“I’m proud of the collaborative efforts that were made by a number of ARL programs in order to have this positive outcome,” said Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “Our preparedness to deal with emergency situations has been tested many times and this was no exception; and once again ARL responded quickly to help these animals in need.”

The remaining 14 animals are receiving on-going treatment, and will be made available once they are medically cleared, and it’s hopeful that all of these animals will have new homes for the holidays!


An Early Holiday-Season Miracle

Abandoned Kitten Brought Back from Brink of Death

‘Tis the season of miracles, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently witnessed one in the form of an 11-week-old kitten who was found on the campus of Mount Ida College.

Mount Ida employees had recently contacted ARL Rescue Services after seeing a mother cat with her litter around one of the campus buildings. Separate trips to the campus yielded no results in finding the kitty family; however about a week later, employees heard a kitten in a basement stairwell crying for help. Attempting to aid the kitten, he got spooked, and scampered off into the darkness.

Scared, dehydrated, hungry, and alone after being abandoned by his mother, the kitten curled up in the corner of the basement to die. When ARL arrived on-scene, the kitten was seemingly lifeless (the responding agent even checked for rigor mortis), when suddenly the kitten gasped for breath. He was alive — barely — and it was now a race against the clock to save his life. Thankfully the campus sits just five miles from ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Emergency Measures

Upon arrival in Dedham, his temperature did not register via rectal thermometer, he was taking agonal breaths — the body’s last-ditch effort to deliver oxygen to vital organs — and had a faint heartbeat.

ARL’s shelter and community veterinary staff placed the kitten (later named Lawrence) on a towel wrapped in a heating pad to warm him up, then were able to place an IV catheter in him to deliver subcutaneous fluids and dextrose. Despite having a series of seizures (likely related to low blood-sugar levels), over the next few hours the kitten gradually pepped up and eventually was able to eat.

A Life Saved

Lawrence has been making steady progress, and the grit and toughness shown by this little miracle has been awe-inspiring to everyone involved in the collaborative life-saving effort.

“The way he has responded is remarkable,” said ARL Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gollon. “It’s a nice reminder how resilient many animals are if you simply give them the basics — water, warmth, food, and a little TLC. It’s definitely been one of the most rewarding cases in my career as a veterinarian.”

YOU Make our Work Possible

While still on the mend, Lawrence is amazingly friendly and will likely be ready to find a forever home in time for the holidays! Without your support, this heart-warming outcome may not have been possible. ARL receives no government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of individuals to be an unwavering champion for animals.

If you support ARL now, your contribution can be tripled! ARL is thrilled to be a part of the launch of HippoGive — a new app powered by Network for Good which makes donating simpler.  HippoGive will match up to $100 of your gift so now through #GivingTuesday, your gift can be tripled when combined with our match! Click here to make your gift X3!