Low-Stress Approach Used for Removing Jar from Raccoon’s Head

ARL Rescue Services Assist Woburn ACO

Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) Rescue Services has certainly had its share of calls to help animals in strange predicaments — a squirrel with its head stuck in a dumpster drain or animal bone, cats in walls, and this week we add a raccoon in a tree with a plastic jar stuck on its head.

On Tuesday, Woburn’s Animal Control Officer contacted ARL regarding the raccoon. He appeared to be healthy and uninjured, but the jar posed a number of dangers — induced panic from the enclosed space, inability to eat or see, and the possibility of falling out of the tree. A trap had been set at the base of the tree, but it was clear that responders had to go to the animal, not wait for him to come down.

The raccoon was about 25 feet up in the tree, which made him accessible, but understandably the raccoon was stressed. The goal of rescuers was to try and remove the jar without having to snare the raccoon and bring him to the ground — easier said than done.

Climbing about 15 feet up in to the tree and using an 11-foot extension pole, ARL Senior Rescue Agent Mike Brammer essentially had to play ring-toss with the jar, positioning it just right to pull it off the raccoon’s head without making him panic.

After several attempts, the jar came off, fluttered to the ground and was disposed of properly (just in case the raccoon didn’t learn his lesson) and the animal remained free in the tree without injury!

Make Double the Impact 

In the past year, ARL Rescue Services has responded to well over 1,500 wildlife rescue calls. ARL receives no government and relies solely on the generosity of individuals to make our work possible. As part of Giving Tuesday, your support can now have double the impact.

#GivingTuesday is an international movement created to encourage giving back to the charities nearest and dearest to your heart during the busy holiday season.

Because ARL is committed to keeping animals safe and healthy in their habitats and homes, our Board of Directors and President have teamed up to offer this incredible challenge:

Raise $100,000 and they will double it.*

That means any gift you make now through November 28 will be matched dollar for dollar to help us reach our total goal of $200,000 for animals in need! Donate $100 or more and you or your pet will be acknowledged on ARL’s #GivingTuesday Wall of Honor.

*The match only applies to the first $100K in donations ARL receives but all gifts will go to help animals in need.


Good Samaritan’s Quick Actions Saves Lives of Two Stray Kittens

ARL Shelter Staff, Volunteers Take Extraordinary Measures

This past weekend, shelter agents at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center received a call from a woman in Hyde Park who had found two kittens small enough to fit in the palm of her hand, but their mother and rest of the litter were nowhere to be found. Left to fend for themselves, quick action needed to be taken in order to give these kittens a chance of surviving.

ARL volunteer Stacey Coyne hopped in the car and drove to the woman’s address, and found that while the male kitten was alert, responsive and hungry, the female kitten was ice cold, lethargic and had labored breathing. The stray kittens were estimated to be about two weeks old, and with their mother abandoning them for some reason, it was a race against the clock to get them stabilized. For the ride back to the shelter, the kittens were wrapped in a blanket and placed on top of a bottle filled with warm water, in an effort to raise their body temperatures.

Once back at the shelter, the kittens continued to be warmed up, were given subcutaneous fluids, and were bottle fed with kitten milk formula. Although warming up and eating, a short time later the female kitten began to crash once again — while coordinating efforts with ARL veterinary staff, it was unclear whether she would make it through the night.

 Volunteer Dedication

With the kittens needing special attention, Stacey volunteered to take them home for the night. She tended to their needs, kept a close eye on their condition, and continued to bottle-feed them. It was an all-night effort, as Stacey stayed awake with the kittens until 5 a.m.

In the 12-18 hours after being found, the condition of the female kitten vastly improved, and while not out of the woods, the little ones are on the road to recovery, and will remain in foster care for several more weeks so stay tuned for updates!!

 The Importance of Fostering

Sometimes shelter animals need a little extra attention and TLC outside of the shelter environment. ARL is always looking for responsible and loving individuals willing to open their homes for animals in need — of critical need right now are volunteers to help with shy cats at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Fostering depends on the animal’s needs, and can range from several days to several weeks. Additionally, our Roving Rovers program is perfect for working families and professionals. This unique foster experience allows you to take one our shelter dogs home overnight, while the shelter is closed. Get involved today!


The Dangers of Tethering

“Diesel” Suffered Necrotic Foot Due to Tethering

In mid-October, Diesel, a five-year-old black lab mix, was seized by the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) after undergoing an emergency leg amputation at a partner care facility in Norfolk County. The dog was tethered in his previous home, and as a result wound up having his right hind leg entangled in the chain. The chain cut off the circulation, his foot became necrotic and painful, and Diesel was discovered chewing on his foot as a result of the injuries.

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Diesel has no problems getting around after his amputation surgery.

Because his foot was beyond repair, amputation was the best surgical option, however, despite being sans one leg, Diesel has not let this slow him down at all.

“Diesel is a wonderful, energetic dog,” said ARL Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gollon. “He is healing well from his surgery and gaining weight appropriately. He should have no lasting effects from this incident and gets around well on three legs.”

Diesel’s case serves as a reminder of not just the dangers of tethering, but also the legal ramifications of excessive tethering.

Massachusetts Tethering Statute Updated

In 2016, the state’s anti-tethering statute was updated as part of S.2369, An Act to Prevent Animal Suffering and Death — a piece of legislation that ARL strongly advocated for. Under the law dogs cannot be:

  • Tethered to a stationary object for longer than five hours in a 24-hour period
  • Tethered outside from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., unless not for more than 15 minutes and when the owner, guardian, or keeper is present
  • Confined outside when a weather advisory, warning, or watch is issued by local, state, or federal authority; or when environmental conditions such as extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, or hail pose as adverse risk to health or safety of the dog, based upon the dog’s breed, age, or physical condition and unless tethered for less than 15 minutes.

Additionally, law enforcement officers from ARL and MSPCA, who come upon situations where this new law is being violated, now have the authority to issue citations to violators when an Animal Control Officer is unavailable or unresponsive. ARL’s Law Enforcement Department also held a series of forums with Animal Control Officers in the spring to discuss the changes to the law.

“This statute is important on a variety of fronts,” said ARL Law Enforcement Lead Investigator Lt. Alan Borgal. “First off, tethering a dog can have tremendously negative impacts. The animal can become lonely, anxious, which may lead to aggressive behavior. Secondly, there is a high risk of injury with tethering including hanging and entanglement, which sadly was the case with Diesel. These laws are in place to protect these animals, and to ensure that they are being taken care of properly.”

Vigilance is Key

While the outcome for Diesel will ultimately be positive as he will wind up in a loving home, the same cannot be said for countless animals that are constantly tethered. ARL is a Champion for Animals, and you can be too by keeping a watchful eye, and if you see anything you may deem as cruel, report it immediately to ARL Law enforcement, or your local authorities.


Helping Animals and Communities in Need

Community Cats Initiative Surpasses 500 Rescues

Back in the early spring, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) hired the organization’s first dedicated Community Cat Rescue Agents, and in just a few short months, more than 500 cats have been rescued through the Community Cat Initiative!

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ARL Rescue Agents Suzanne Trasavage (L), and Theresa Vinic with two rescued kittens.

Community cats include friendly strays, feral, abandoned, and owned animals that are allowed outdoors to roam. Living outdoors they face many challenges, including risk of illness and injury. Additionally, without spay/neuter surgery, these cats can produce many litters, continuing the cycle of large colonies of unowned and unwanted cats.

Through ARL’s Community Cat Initiative and Community Surgical Clinic, these animals are trapped, given veterinary exams, and spayed/neutered. Only 18 percent have been returned to their respective colonies, while those deemed friendly and adoptable have been placed into loving homes — including 270 kittens!

In September, ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center found homes for 105 cats, more than any month over the past decade, a sign that the program is indeed working.

“While we knew there was a need for this important work, we have all been surprised at the number of kittens that otherwise would have grown up in the streets, and now they can be adopted into loving homes,” said Cheryl Traversi, ARL’s Associate Director of Community Services.

Changing Lives

ARL has only scratched the surface on the community impact the Community Cat Initiative can have in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. We are excited for the opportunity to keep animals safe and healthy in the habitats in which they live, however this initiative needs your support in order to be a success. To fully support these innovative programs and help more than 1,500 cats lead healthier lives, ARL needs to raise $204,000 annually. For more information, contact Rick Tagliaferri at rtafliaferri@arlboston.org.


Spay Waggin’ Hits Significant Milestone

50,000 and Counting!

Since 2000, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’ has been the organization’s largest community spay and neuter program, and currently serves pet owners in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod each and every month. Recently, the program surpassed a major milestone — 50,000 spay and neuter surgeries!

The Spay Waggin’ is truly a community service, bringing affordable, accessible, and high quality spay and neuter services right to where they’re needed most.

“This service has helped thousands of people keep the pets they love in their communities all over the South Shore, South Coast, and Cape Cod,” said ARL Veterinarian Dr. Kyle Quigley. “The surgeries performed as part of this program has helped keep countless animals out of shelter and out of harm’s way.”

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Dr. Kyle Quigley performing surgery on the Spay Waggin’.

The Spay Waggin’ makes rotating stops in the following communities:

  •         Brockton
  •         Falmouth
  •         New Bedford
  •         North Dartmouth
  •         Plymouth
  •         Taunton
  •         Wareham

Along with the spay or neuter surgery, each animal is given a brief veterinary exam, vaccines, treatments for fleas, ear mites or intestinal parasites, and a nail trim. ARL’s vision is to ensure that animals are safe and healthy in the communities where they live, and the Spay Waggin’ exemplifies this vision.

“It’s truly amazing to think of the impact this program has had on the communities we serve,” exclaimed Dr. Quigley. “Thanks to our donors we have made a difference helping animals and people in need and we look forward to continuing this work for years to come.”

Why Spay or Neuter Your Pet?

If you have not had your pet spayed or neutered, here are five reasons why you should:

  1. Reduce the cost of pet ownership. Particularly given the number of low-cost options available in Massachusetts, the cost of caring for an unplanned litter far outweighs the cost of having a pet spayed/neutered.
  2. Diminish nuisance behaviors. Neutering resolves the vast majority of marking behaviors—even when a cat has a long-standing habit. Howling in cats and excessive barking in dogs eases and even disappears after surgery.
  3. Prevent aggressive behaviors. According to the National Canine Research Foundation, approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered. Neutering male dogs and cats reduces their urge to roam and fight with other males.
  4. Increase longevity. The USA Today reports neutered male dogs live 18% longer than unneutered males, and spayed females live 23% longer than unspayed females.
  5. Improve health outlook. Neutering males cats and dogs before six months of age prevents testicular cancer. Spaying female cats and dogs before their first heat offers protection from uterine infections and breast cancer.

Make an Appointment Today!

Spay Waggin’ services are by appointment only, call 1-877-590-SPAY (7729), or go online to book your appointment to help your furry friend live a longer and better life!


Update: Maybelle Finds a Forever Home

A Six-Month Heroic Journey Comes to an End

Since early May, the journey of Maybelle, a one-year-old obese pot-bellied pig, has been chronicled by local and national media, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) collective staff and volunteers, and even by everyday visitors to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center. Maybelle’s final chapter has unfolded, and we are happy to report that our famous girl has been adopted!

A West Bridgewater couple saw Maybelle on the news recently, and thought they could give her a loving and happy home.

“We had a pig before for 20 years, so we know what we’re getting into,” said Gail Pepe. “We wanted to help her because we know she was abused. We have a spot for her and (even) built her a house.”

The couple brought Maybelle to her new home this past weekend, and along with constructing an enclosure to suit Maybelle’s needs, they have also consulted with their veterinarian to ensure that she will continue to make progress.

Everyone at ARL is thrilled that Maybelle is getting the second chance she deserves!

Maybelle’s Weight-Loss Journey

Maybelle came to ARL weighing roughly 200 pounds, after allegedly being given a poor diet and kept indoors for her first year of life. She was depressed, immobile, uncomfortable, and unhealthy. While in the care of ARL, six small meals a day led to Maybelle losing approximately 25 pounds, and she slowly regained the ability to move around freely. She also became more outgoing and responsive to human interaction.

To follow Maybelle’s complete journey, click the links below:

ARL in Action

Maybelle’s case involved a number of ARL programs including: Law Enforcement Services, Rescue Services, Shelter Veterinary Medicine, and plenty of support from shelter staff and volunteers. ARL receives no government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of individuals to fulfill our mission and vision. YOU make our work possible, and Maybelle is a shining example of what makes ARL a CHAMPION FOR ANIMALS. Please consider lending your support today!


UPDATE: Cats Rescued From Hoarding Situation Progressing

Extraordinary Measures Taken by ARL Volunteers and Staff

In late August, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) rescued nearly 50 cats from a hoarding situation in Bristol County. Many of these animals were in rough shape, and more than three dozen tested positive for a fungal infection that is transferable to other animals and humans as well. Extraordinary measures had to be taken to rehabilitate these cats, while keeping our staff, volunteers, and other animals safe from infection.

For the past seven weeks, the cats have been given daily medication, weekly cultures, and donning Tyvek suits and other protective gear, a dedicated group of volunteers bath the cats with pure oxygen twice a week. Additionally, while bathing the cats, our amazing volunteers also play with the kitties, improving their social skills and helping their true personalities come out. Most of the cats have shown to be very outgoing and regularly solicit attention.

Treating these cats has been an expensive endeavor and has presented logistical challenges as well.

“We decided with the number of cats to actually shut down an entire room in our holding area to treat these animals,” said Jessica Wright, ARL Veterinary Technician. “It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly because it impacts the rest of our shelter operations.”

A number of these cats have already found forever homes, and more are expected to be medically cleared and available for adoption soon. It’s truly been a group effort, and these animals have come a long way in the past month and a half. Click here to see a special report by WFXT in Boston on these ongoing efforts.

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Jazzy (L) was recently cleared medically and has found her forever home, while Baby Butch (R) is currently available!

“It’s really satisfying to see how different they look,” said Jane Urban, an ARL volunteer. “At the end of the day, these cats are going to good homes, so it’s extremely rewarding.”

Get Involved

ARL volunteers are special, and with nearly 550 individuals donating their time to help animals in need, they are the oil that keeps the ARL engine running. There are constantly volunteer opportunities available, please check our website often to get involved!


ARL Discusses Law Enforcement at Fall Educational Forum

Lt. Alan Borgal Highlights the Importance of Law Enforcement to ARL’s Mission

Over the weekend, more than 40 of ARL’s biggest supporters gathered at the Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center for the President’s Council Fall Educational Forum. Those in attendance included ARL President Mary Nee, members of ARL’s Board of Directors, and President’s Council members — individuals who donate $1,000 or more annually to help animals in need.

Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services, began the forum with an overview of the organization’s seven operational programs and how they work as one to fulfill ARL’s mission and vision. The programs are:

  •         Community Veterinary Services
  •         Shelter Veterinary Services
  •         Volunteer Services
  •         Community Programs — Rescue Services, Healthy Animals, Healthy Community Initiative, Community Cat Initiative
  •         Shelter Operations — Boston, Brewster, Dedham, Behavior and Enrichment
  •         Boston Veterinary Care
  •         Law Enforcement
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ARL President Mary Nee (R), with President’s Council member Sadhana Downs.

Dr. Schettino highlighted a recent hoarding case along the South Shore that showed how these programs are intertwined, and how each program played a pivotal role in rescuing, rehabilitating, and saving the lives of nearly 50 cats.

Talking Law Enforcement

With 42 years of service, Investigative Specialist Lt. Alan Borgal is an encyclopedia of knowledge, and shared with forum guests how the department has evolved over the decades, and how cases can sometimes bring about legislative changes that enhance the protection of animals across the Commonwealth.

“It was an honor speaking directly to ARL supporters, being able to convey both professionally and personally how their support leads to the direct care and protection of law enforcement rescued or seized animals in my career as a humane officer spanning over 42 years,” Lt. Borgal said.

Thank You!

ARL would like to extend a special thank you for those who attended the Fall Educational Forum, if you have been thinking about joining ARL’s President’s Council, now is the time to do so! Thanks to the generosity of 13 extraordinary supporters, a $50,000 Challenge Grant has been established to inspire new membership in our President’s Council giving society. Click here to learn more about how you can take advantage of this amazing opportunity to help animals in need!


ARL President Testifies at State House in Support of Animal Protection Legislation

Proposed Legislation Would Have Wide-Ranging Impacts

This week Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) President Mary Nee and Law Enforcement Lead Investigator Lt. Alan Borgal appeared in front of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government at the Massachusetts State House, urging further discussion and ultimate passage of several important pieces of animal protection legislation.

The Bills

S. 1159 and H. 2419 — An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II), builds upon the original PAWS Act of 2014, and incorporates a number of recommendations made by the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force — which was born out of the PAWS Act.

PAWS II has many elements, from prohibiting discrimination against dog breeds, to mandating cross-reporting between human and animal service agencies. President Nee emphasized the latter to the committee.

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ARL President Mary Nee addresses Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

“I believe this bill is an important tool for human service investigators,” Nee said. “Often victims are reluctant to speak about abuse directed at them but are more comfortable talking about their pets. In this way, it may facilitate the discussion about the larger violence or exploitation happening. Animal abuse is often the red flag warning sign of concurrent and future violence and the earlier professionals can intervene, the higher the rate of success for both the victims and the animals.”

To read President Nee’s entire statement click here.

S. 1145 and H. 416 — An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals, expands current law against cruel conditions to include farm animals. This proposal stems directly from the 2016 Westport animal cruelty case, which involved 1,400 animals. ARL was at the forefront of the coordinated rescue effort and law enforcement investigation.

“S. 1145 and H. 416 allows humane law enforcement to tackle misconceptions head-on by giving them and animal control officers an additional tool, and the people who own the animals a possible solution,” Nee said.

To read President Nee’s entire statement click here.

S. 1155 and H. 1080 — An Act relating to puppies & kittens also received a large amount of attention during this week’s hearing, and the bill would protect puppies, kittens, and consumers in a number of ways:

  1. Prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age;
  2. Improve the “puppy lemon law” to better protect and provide recourse for families who unknowingly purchase a sick puppy or kitten;
  3. Require the promulgation of rules and regulations for certain Massachusetts breeders;
  4. Ensure that Massachusetts pets at pet shops only sell puppies and kittens from breeders who adhere to minimum animal health and welfare standards.

The Importance of Advocacy

Part of being a Champion for Animals means being a voice for animals. ARL will continue to support legislation that improves the protection, safety, and well-being of animals, and oppose reforms that will endanger the welfare of animals in Massachusetts. Check back often for updates on the legislative process!


Thank You Thursday: From Stray, to Surgery, to Adopted!

ARL’s Cape Cod Branch Gets Helping Hand from Veterinary Partner

In late August, “Gus” was transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center from Friends of Carver Animals. It’s estimated that Gus had been dumped into a feral colony about 10 years ago, and when he was recently trapped and neutered, because he was so friendly, it was decided he should be placed into a loving home, not returned to the colony.

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Gus following cleft palate repair.

When examined by ARL veterinary staff, it was noted that Gus had a cleft palate that was likely the result of an old injury rather than congenital, as well as a fractured upper canine tooth. A cleft palate for a cat can cause problems eating and swallowing, as well as respiratory complications.


Needing surgery, ARL teamed with Eastham Veterinary Hospital, with Dr. John Kelly performing the cleft palate repair, while extracting five teeth as well. Gus was returned to ARL to recover and was fed canned cat food diluted with water, and treated with antibiotics to prevent infection. Gus recovered quickly, and has since been adopted!

In one month, Gus went from a stray, to a rescue, to a patient, and finally to adopted! ARL wants to thank Eastham Veterinary Hospital for its partnership, and for giving Gus the chance to find a forever home.