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Category: Adoption
Taming Tiny Tigers

Volunteers to focus on under-socialized kittens

As spring slowly begins to show itself here in New England, it means the weather will be getting warmer and kitten season is upon us.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) will soon be seeing an influx of kittens who will be rescued from a life on the streets and adopted into loving forever homes; but before that can happen, these kittens must first learn to trust humans.

This past week ARL’s kitten experts met with more than two dozen volunteers to discuss the process of “Taming Tiny Tigers” which are kittens between 8 weeks and 4-5-months-old.

Kittens without any previous human interaction are likely to be frightened; which often leads to hissing, scratching, biting, and defensive body posturing.

It’s the job of staff and these special volunteers to move these kittens past the fear, build trust, and allow their true personalities to shine through.

This cute snap shot doesn’t happen without proper socialization.

Hands-On Approach

Constant contact is key to properly socializing these tiny tigers, and volunteers will be responsible for 15-minute socialization sessions with following rest periods of 45 minutes, where the kitten is pet, scratched, enticed with food, and talked to calmly.

Each session will be meticulously documented, noting all body language and behavioral signs – both positive and negative.

As these sessions continue, the kitten will gradually lower its guard, allow more contact, and will eventually reciprocate with a purr, headbutt, kneading, or any of the cute and loving things that kittens do.

Each kitten’s personality is different, and some may become trusting in a short period of time, while others may take a while longer.

The end goal will be to find these kittens forever homes where they can continue to learn, socialize and be loving, amazing companion animals!

Volunteers make the difference

With approximately 550 volunteers, ARL relies on these special individuals to accomplish a number of daily tasks and could not offer the vast number of services ARL provides without their help.

In 2018, volunteers donated more than 27,000 hours of their time to help animals in need, and for more information and to submit an application to join our volunteer team, click here!


Senior Stray Finds Perfect Forever Home

“Frankie” required extensive medical care at ARL

In early January, 2019, Frankie, an 11-year-old Shih-Tzu, was found wandering the cold streets of Boston.

Given Frankie’s hearing and vision impairments, amazingly he wasn’t injured while living on the streets.

He was however, in dire need of medical attention.

Frankie’s initial veterinary exam revealed a handful of masses (both epidermal and oral), dental disease, and hearing loss. Additionally, x-rays were taken and blood was drawn for additional diagnostic testing.

The masses were removed and determined to be benign, however Frankie’s bloodwork revealed abnormalities which pointed to possible renal disease and pancreatitis.

The next month for Frankie would consist of more testing, frequent veterinary rechecks, and unfortunately additional findings.

While Frankie’s ongoing diagnostic testing showed improvement, there were further developments — the 11-year-old pup was diagnosed with glaucoma in one eye which needed to be removed; and a heart murmur was also discovered.

A Long Road Home

Despite all the testing and continuous discoveries, Frankie maintained a wonderful, friendly demeanor and was finally ready to find his forever home.

Frankie quickly found his perfect match, and will spend his golden years in a quiet home along the scenic North Shore.

Extraordinary Care

From routine exams to complex surgery, ARL’s shelter medicine staff provides extraordinary care for every animal that comes through ARL’s doors. Last year alone, more than $550,000 was spent to ensure these animals were healthy and happy. ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals like you to make our important work possible.

Please consider donating today to ensure these animals get the medical treatment they need!


Surrendered Horse Returns to Original Owners

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) aims to place every animal in our care into loving homes, but for George, an approximately 23-year-old saddlebred horse, an amazing collaborative effort helped him be reunited with his original owners – 15 years later and 1,300 miles away!

To see a video on George’s amazing story click here!

George came to ARL in September 2018 with several other horses who were surrendered when their owner could no longer properly care for them.

George was slightly underweight and needed medical care and general grooming but was overall in good health.

After spending a couple of months recuperating at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, George was put into foster care, and almost immediately his foster parent and equine enthusiast Cordula Robinson realized that she was caring for an extraordinary animal.

“He was highly intelligent, elegant, well-trained and had clearly known love, he was very engaged with humans,” Robinson said.

Talking to a trainer friend, Cordula was encouraged to reach out to saddlebred agencies up and down the east coast to see if someone would recognize George, and was surprised when someone in New Jersey reached out.

Turns out that George was well-known in the saddlebred world, and competed under the name “Midnight Memory Maker”.

Sadly, his original owner, Todd Mathieson, passed away in 2006, and Todd’s wife Diane decided to rehome George. George did however continue to compete for a number of years.

When Diane was contacted, she was overwhelmed and ecstatic for the possibility of being reunited with George, after spending 15 years apart.

Thanks to a collaborative effort, arrangements were made to transport George from Boston to Ocala, Florida and this week George and Diane were reunited and the former show horse has now come full circle and is back with his original family to enjoy his retirement.

ARL is grateful to everyone whose compassion for animals helped make this incredible reunion possible!


Update: Dedham Abandoned Cats Ready to Find Forever Home

Two kittens, one with a broken leg, who were abandoned in late November along a busy road in Dedham have spent two months in foster care recuperating, and today are ready to find their forever home.

The 8-month-old pair, Helga and Arnold, are now available at the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

When discovered, Helga had suffered a fractured right hind leg and the fact her bones are still developing, ARL’s veterinary staff determined the best course would be for restricted movement in foster care and allow the leg to heal on its own. X-rays taken Tuesday determined that Helga’s fracture has healed.

The cats are being adopted as a bonded pair, meaning they will need to go home together.

While Helga and Arnold will soon be in a loving home, the person(s) responsible for abandoning these animals has not been identified. ARL Law Enforcement continues to ask for the public’s assistance and any information can be given over the phone (617) 426-9170, or via email cruelty@arlboston.org.

Original Release, dated 11/28/18:

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is currently caring for a pair of six-month-old cats who were left in a cardboard box along High St., a busy thoroughfare in Dedham. One of the cats is suffering from a broken leg and ARL Law Enforcement is seeking information to find the person responsible for this cruel act.

While driving along High St. this past weekend, a Good Samaritan witnessed a man standing in front of a box along High St., and drove away when the driver pulled over. Stunned to find the cats in the box, the Good Samaritan brought the cats to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, along with the contents of the box. There was pertinent information inside the box which ARL Law Enforcement is following up on.

The man was driving a dark-colored SUV i.e. Toyota RAV4/Honda CRV, and is described as a white male in his 30’s or 40’s.

The cats, named Arnold and Helga, are not microchipped, and both are extremely friendly. Along with an injured leg, a rabbit nail was found embedded into Helga’s tail – both cats were dirty but overall in good health.

The cats will continue to be monitored and undergo medical treatment, and the goal is to have them both into new, loving homes for the holidays.

ARL Law Enforcement is investigating this crime with Dedham Police, and asks that anyone with information to contact ARL (cruelty@arlboston.org; (617) 426-9170).
Abandoning an animal is a felony in Massachusetts, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.


Home for the Holidays: Shelley’s Amazing Story

Community Cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia Finds a Home

For about a year, Shelley had been spotted in a Boston neighborhood and was described as having an “unsteady gait”. Shelley was one of the estimated 700,000 community cats living in Massachusetts, 70,000 in Boston alone – and now she is off the streets and in a loving forever home!

When Shelley was taken into the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center in September, she was diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), which explained her unsteady gait.

CH is a condition where parts of the cerebellum aren’t fully developed. Since the cerebellum is responsible for movement and coordination, animals born with CH have tremors, uncoordinated movements and frequent loss of balance. To see a short video of Shelley click here!

While there is no treatment for CH, it is not contagious or painful – the animals simply learn to adapt to their condition.

However given the fact that Shelley has CH, it is remarkable that she was able to survive on her own for over a year on the streets and given her sweet demeanor, the immediate plan upon arrival at ARL was to find her the perfect home.

Shelley was a staff favorite during her time at ARL, making feline friends along the way, and although it took a couple of months, in early December, Shelley found her match.

In 2017, ARL’s Community Cat Initiative assessed 102 cat colonies, serving more than 600 cats. Nearly 80 percent of those cats were adopted into loving homes, and Shelley was just one of the hundreds of community cats ARL has helped in 2018.

Help Even More Animals in 2019!

ARL is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes – and our work is not possible without YOUR support! ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals to support our shelter, rescue, law enforcement and community programs.

With just days until the end of 2018, we need to raise $42,000 by December 31 to ensure we are fully funded to help even more animals in 2019. Please help us reach our goal and donate today!

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Home for the Holidays: Priscilla’s Story

On her own for some time and wandering the streets of Roxbury, it’s amazing that Priscilla, an 8-pound Shih-Tzu, found her way to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL). Like many homeless animals, Priscilla showed a tremendous amount of resilience.

On a cold September night, Priscilla was discovered underneath a vehicle along Dudley Street – a busy thoroughfare in Roxbury. The 3-year-old pup was shivering and huddled underneath the car, and she clearly was not well.

The Good Samaritan who found Priscilla brought her to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center after showing signs of sickness.

Not only was she ill, but she had the typical conditions of a dog found living on the streets – underweight, matted fur and muscle wasting.

Despite her ordeal, Priscilla rebounded quickly and given her friendly and playful nature, she was quickly made available for adoption.

Going Home

An ARL volunteer instantly fell in love with Priscilla and decided to adopt. Changing her name to Ladybird, She became an immediate member of the family and is one of thousands of success stories ARL sees annually.

“Ladybird was a perfect addition to my family the instant she romped into my home. She is happy, playful and very smart. She isn’t demanding of attention and is happy to amuse herself sitting near me and chewing on one of her Nylabones. She has increased the quality of my life immeasurably and is a total hit to all who know her. A real favorite from the start.”

Help Even More Animals in 2019!

ARL is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes – and our work is not possible without YOUR support! ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals to support our shelter, rescue, law enforcement and community programs.

With just days until the end of 2018, we need to raise $50,000 by December 31 to ensure we are fully funded to help even more animals in need in 2019. Please donate today!

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Home for the Holidays: Bodhi’s Story

Bodhi, a five-year-old Saint Bernard/Cocker Spaniel mix, came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center under unfortunate circumstances – his owner was facing financial hardships that made it impossible to properly care for him. Two things about Bodhi immediately stood out – his fear and health issues.

A picture says a thousand words, and Bodhi’s intake photo spoke volumes. His face was sunken, eyes filled with sadness and discomfort, and he wore an expression that would shake anyone who cares about animals to the core.

For several days, Bodhi needed to be hoisted to walk, which he then did reluctantly. He was not interested in treats, food, and had trouble going to the bathroom.

Every animal that come through ARL’s doors receives a thorough veterinary exam as well as a behavioral evaluation. Bodhi’s initial veterinary exam revealed a number of underlying issues, which were certainly contributing to his lack of enthusiasm.

Bodhi was suffering from ear infections, and a skin condition had caused loss of fur and scabbing all over his body. He was also overweight, and subsequent bloodwork revealed his weight gain was the result of hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid.

When the metabolic rate slows down due to hypothyroidism, it can literally affect every organ in the body. Symptoms include:

  • Weight gain (without increase in appetite)
  • Lethargy
  • Dry and dull fur with excessive shedding
  • Increased susceptibility to skin and ear infections
  • High cholesterol
  • Slow heart rate

Along with medication to reduce Bodhi’s anxiety, he was also started on thyroid medication, antibiotics for his ear infections and skin issues – he was also given medicated baths twice a week. Shelter staff also discovered an important tool to get Bodhi moving – tennis balls!

As his ear infections and skin condition improved, Bodhi broke out of his shell and began showing off his true personality.

He was accepting to new people, enjoyed being outdoors and especially loved getting his exercise by endlessly chasing tennis balls in Brewster’s large paddock area.

Going Home

Many animals who come into a shelter environment have behavioral hurdles to overcome, but for Bodhi, it was all about properly diagnosing his medical issues. Once these were identified and brought under control, Bodhi’s energy, comfort and happiness increased exponentially – and he was ready to find his forever home.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long. A local resident who has adopted from ARL in the past spent some time outdoors with Bodhi, and knew he was the one.

Bodhi now has ample space to run outdoors and is in a home filled with love and support and was able to spend the holidays with his new family!

Help Even More Animals in 2019!

ARL is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes – and our work is not possible without YOUR support! ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals to support our shelter, rescue, law enforcement and community programs.

As we look ahead to 2019, ARL will continue to be at the forefront of confronting the root causes of cruelty and abuse, and to help even more animals in need, like Bhodi, throughout Massachusetts.

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Home for the Holidays: Phinney’s Story

Senior Dog Afflicted with Enlarged Heart

In late October, Phinney, an 11-year-old Chihuahua, was brought to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, when his former owner could no longer care for him. Like every animal who comes through ARL’s doors, Phinney underwent a comprehensive medical examination, and unfortunately, some irregularities were found.

During Phinney’s exam, a heart murmur, a sound generated by the flow of blood to the heart, was noted.

Chest x-rays and an echocardiogram were performed, and discovered that Phinney has mitral valve regurgitation secondary to chronic valvular disease and mild left ventricular enlargement.

With an enlarged ventricle, its ability to pump blood out into the lungs and body deteriorates.

For Phinney, his heart disease has been deemed mild, however he will be on a medication called Pimobendan for the rest of his life.

Phinney was also diagnosed with MLP, or medial luxating patella. Lameness can occur as the patella (kneecap) slips out of position but slips back into position on its own. Both of Phinney’s patella’s are affected by MLP, however surgery has not been recommended. It is likely though that over time Phinney will develop arthritis as a result.

Despite his afflictions, Phinney has persevered and all he wanted for the holidays was a loving home and a cozy spot to curl up in.

Going Home

In early December, Phinney’s holiday wish came true, as he was adopted by a local resident who had adopted previously from ARL!

Given his medical condition, Phinney will need regular visits to his veterinarian, however the confirmed diagnosis by ARL’s shelter medicine staff and prescribed medication will certainly extend Phinney’s time with his new owner and improve his quality of life as well.

Help Even More Animals in 2019!

ARL is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes – and our work is not possible without YOUR support! ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals to support our shelter, rescue, law enforcement and community programs.

As we look ahead to 2019, ARL will continue to be at the forefront of confronting the root causes of cruelty and abuse, and to help even more animals in need, like Phinney, throughout Massachusetts.

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Home for the Holidays: Etha’s Story

Animals come to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) in a variety of ways: stray, rescue, law enforcement, transport – as well as owner surrender. There are a plethora of reasons why animals are surrendered, and for Etha, a one-year-old female cat, it was due to prohibitive medical cost.

In her former home, Etha had managed to slip a front leg through her collar, causing irritation in her armpit region. This went unchecked for a number of weeks, getting to the point of the collar being embedded in her skin. The wounds underneath were open, infected and painful for the young cat.

Her former owner brought Etha to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center for surrender in mid-November, and as soon as her intake was complete, ARL’s shelter veterinary staff went to work to remove the collar and treat her wounds.

Etha was spayed, and the wounds from the collar needed several rounds of cleaning and treatment with antibiotic ointment.

For many animals recovering from traumatic or serious injuries, foster care provides an environment where the animal can heal in relative quiet and receive the constant attention and care they need.

Given her amazing temperament, Etha was quick to heal and although shy at first, she was quick to warm up and showcase her sweet personality.

Within two weeks of being surrendered, Etha was rehabilitated and ready to find her forever home!

Home for the Holidays

ARL is proud that the median length of stay for dogs and cats in our shelters is 10 days or less, and for Etha, she was adopted just one day after being made available!

Etha has found her Home for the Holidays and has adapted very quickly to her new surroundings.

“We’re so happy having Etha around,” said her new owners. “It took all of one day for her to stop hiding now she’s a serious lap cat!”

Help Even More Animals in 2019!

ARL is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes – and our work is not possible without YOUR support! ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals to support our shelter, rescue, law enforcement and community programs.

As we look ahead to 2019, ARL will continue to be at the forefront of confronting the root causes of cruelty and abuse, and to help even more animals in need, like Etha, throughout Massachusetts.

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Home for the Holidays: Cuddy’s Story

In early November, Cuddy, a vocal and fluffy 13-year-old cat, was transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center from Boston Animal Control.

For many senior animals, initially entering a shelter environment can be an overwhelming, fear-inducing experience – but for Cuddy, he was already familiar with ARL.

Originally adopted from ARL in 2010, Cuddy returned a little older, and a little wiser. Additionally, like many senior animals, Cuddy had advanced dental disease and had put on a few pounds.

While the majority of senior animals are surrendered due to an owner’s declining health or unfortunate passing, some, like Cuddy, are the victims of circumstance. Cuddy was surrendered to Boston Animal Control due to an eviction.

In a shelter environment, puppies and kittens typically get top billing because let’s face it – they’re adorable! The unfortunate reality is that sometimes senior animals can be overlooked simply based on their age.

At ARL, our Adoption Forward philosophy aims to match the adopter with the perfect animal – and for some senior animals better fit the person’s lifestyle or needs as their personalities are fully formed, they will be housebroken more often than not, and tend to be less active.

Cuddy Finds His Forever Home

Cuddy’s return stay at ARL was brief, as he was adopted in less than 3 weeks! His outgoing but relaxed personality was the perfect fit for his new owner, his adopter tells us, “Cuddy is a such a good boy – I awakened the morning after his very first night here to find him deep under the covers of my bed, nestled against my feet!” We’re beyond happy that Cuddy will be spending the holidays in his new forever home!

Help Even More Animals in 2019

ARL is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes – and our work is not possible without YOUR support! ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding, relying solely on the generosity of individuals to support our shelter, rescue, law enforcement and community programs.

As we look ahead to 2019, ARL will continue to be at the forefront of confronting the root causes of cruelty and abuse, and to help animals in need throughout Massachusetts.

red donate button