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Category: Advocacy
ARL Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is reminding pet owners of some things to keep in mind to help keep our pets safe and healthy as we celebrate with friends, family, food and festivities!

Cat laying in Christmas free

Plants and Decorations

Pet owners should be aware of the holiday plants being brought into the home – mistletoe, holly, some types of lilies can cause a host of issues if they are ingested and additionally, poinsettias, while traditional, can also be toxic. Stick to artificial plant decorations, or opt for a pet-friendly bouquet.

If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it’s anchored so it doesn’t tip over and injure your pet, and also be sure to keep pets from drinking the tree water which could cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

For decorations, with its sparkle, tinsel can be mistaken for a toy, but if ingested can cause vomiting, dehydration or even a blockage in the digestive tract, so in short, if you have pets, leave the tinsel in the box!

Also, be sure to never leave candles unattended, and keep wires, batteries and ornaments out of reach of your pet’s paws.

small dog sniffing sweets in a bowl

Foods to Avoid

We all know that chocolate is a no-no, but there are also potential dangers hidden in many of the side dishes and snacks we enjoy during the holidays.

These include onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, nuts, milk and dairy, and xylitol, which is a sweetener found in many products including candy, gum and baked goods, can all be toxic to our pets.

Do not give your dog bones, either cooked or raw! Bones can splinter, causing intestinal obstructions and even fracture teeth.

Be mindful while cooking – consider keeping pets out of the kitchen and remind your guests not to feed your pets any scraps!

Should your pet ingest any items that may be toxic, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.

white cat laying on bookshelf

Holiday Gatherings

If your hosting family or friends for the holidays, it could be a stimulus overload for your pet, causing anxiety and overexcitement. And in turn unpleasant behaviors may surface so be sure to set up your pet for success before your guests arrive.

Give your pets get plenty of attention and exercise prior to guests arriving because we all know tired pets are more apt to be better behaved pets!

With guests constantly coming and going, it’s best to remind visitors to be mindful when entering and exiting your home to ensure your pet does not make a great escape in all of the excitement – if they are overanxious they may make a dash for the door!

Additionally, provide your pet with a safe space away from your guests should they need an escape from the excitement.

The space should have fresh water, food, and items to keep them occupied including toys, or perhaps a food puzzle and bedding so they can be comfortable.

We all want our pets safe and healthy, so it’s best to plan ahead to ensure a worry-free holiday season.


ARL Partners with New England Center and Home for Veterans

ARL to offer variety of services, including temporary pet housing

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is proud to announce a new partnership with the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV), in an effort to further serve Veterans who may be facing housing instability or other challenges.

ARL is currently offering its Temporary Pet Housing Initiative to NECHV clients, to ensure Veterans are getting the help they need, avoiding pet surrender, and keeping pets and people together. To date, ARL has already assisted several animals who have since been reunited with their owners.

“ARL is honored for the opportunity to partner with the New England Center and Home for Veterans by offering temporary pet housing to former service men and women who are in the midst of transitioning to permanent housing,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “To be able to temporarily care for and then reunite these animals with their families is a special responsibility, and ARL is proud to play a role in keeping pets out of shelters and in homes with the people who love them.”

“The New England Center and Home for Veterans is pleased to offer the services of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Temporary Pet Housing Initiative to the Veterans we serve,” said NECHV President and CEO C. Andrew McCawley. “Pets are like family, and the thought of having to give them up can contribute to the disruptiveness of homelessness. Through this partnership, Veteran pet owners who are experiencing housing instability can have peace of mind, knowing that their pets will be well cared for until they can be reunited with them.”

ARL’s Temporary Pet Housing Initiative allows pets to stay within ARL’s vast foster care network, relieving the pet owner of having to make any difficult pet-related decisions while allowing them to focus on bettering their own situation.

As the partnership grows, ARL aims to provide further services to Veterans and their pets including pet wellness, spay/neuter, among others.

ABOUT THE NEW ENGLAND CENTER AND HOME FOR VETERANS

Founded in 1989, the New England Center and Home for Veterans is a nationally recognized leader in serving Veterans.  The NECHV is a multi-dimensional service and care provider that assists Veterans who are facing challenges with a broad array of programs and services that enable success, meaningful employment, and dignified, independent living.

*To protect the privacy of veterans in this program, the photos used in this blog are not participants of the program.


Hurricane Season: Are You and Your Pets Prepared?

ARL Reminds Pet Owners to Include Pets in Hurricane Emergency Plans

We are at the height of hurricane season, and the tropics as of late have been very active. While Massachusetts did not feel any drastic impacts of Hurricane Fiona, the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms remains real, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) encourages residents to have an emergency plan in place should a tropical storm or hurricane impact the region; and to include pets in the planning process.

Pet emergency kit

Pet emergency kit.

ARL recommends pet owners keep the following tips in mind for pets:

  1. Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit. Each animal in your household needs their own kit and should include at least a one-week supply of food and water, along with collapsible dishes; a week supply of medication; photographs, tags, and other identification; leash, harness, crate/carrier; toys, blankets and treats; waste bags, litter and litter tray
  2. Locate Pet-Friendly Evacuation Centers. Many, but not all, evacuation centers do allow pets. Check your area for not only evacuation centers, but pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, and even friends or relatives that would allow you, your family, and your pets to stay.
  3. Make Sure Your Pet is Microchipped. It’s the simplest way to be reunited with your pet should you become separated. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure all contact information is correct and up to date.
  4. Develop a Buddy System. Connect with friends and neighbors to ensure that someone is willing to evacuate your pets if you are unable to.

Download ARL’s pet preparedness emergency kit.

Additionally, storm conditions including howling winds, driving rain, thunder, and lightning, among others, can drastically increase anxiety for your pet.

During a storm make sure to keep an extra sharp eye on your pet, keep them as comfortable as possible, and reward calm behavior.


ARL Opens Doors to 25 Beagles from the Envigo Facility in Cumberland, Virginia

ARL assists in the Humane Society of the United States’ work to find placement for approximately 4,000 beagles

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has brought 25 beagles to its Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center as part of the first group of beagles to be removed from a mass-breeding facility riddled with animal welfare concerns.

The Humane Society of the United States is coordinating the removal of approximately 4,000 beagles housed at an Envigo RMS LLC facility in Cumberland, VA which bred dogs to be sold to laboratories for animal experimentation.

The transfer plan was submitted by the Department of Justice and Envigo RMS LLC, with the agreement of the Humane Society of the United States to assume the responsibility of coordinating placement.

The transfer will take place in stages over the next 60 days, and the dogs will be up for adoption via ARL and other shelters and rescues.

ARL understands the interest by those looking to adopt one of these special animals, however to manage the high volume of request and reduce the impact on ARL’s normal operations, these animals will be adopted through a special adoption process.

Please note: due to the amount of inquiries for these beagles, ARL is no longer accepting applications for these special adoptions. 

ARL asks interested adopters who have submitted applications for their patience.

The beagles need time to heal and ARL is unable to anticipate a timeline for when they will be ready to go to their new homes. Interested adopters are asked not to call or email ARL’s Animal Care and Adoption Centers. Calls, emails, or messages to our social media accounts will not be considered completed applications.

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston is honored to be a part of such a massive rescue effort,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “ARL commends HSUS for its effort and commitment to these resilient animals, as well as our animal welfare partners around the country who have made special accommodations to ensure that these dogs are cared for and find the homes they so richly deserve.”

The transfer plan comes as a result of a lawsuit filed against Envigo by the Department of Justice in May, alleging Animal Welfare Act violations at the facility.

Repeated federal inspections have resulted in dozens of violations, including findings that some dogs had been “euthanized” without first receiving anesthesia, that dogs had received inadequate veterinary care and insufficient food, and that they were living in unsanitary conditions.

“It takes a massive network of compassionate, expert shelters and rescues to make an operation of this scale possible,” said Lindsay Hamrick, shelter outreach and engagement director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are deeply grateful to each organization that is stepping up to find these dogs the loving homes they so deserve.”

The Humane Society of the United States is maintaining a list of partners accepting animals into their adoption program will be here.


Massachusetts Senate to Begin Budget Debate

How you can prompt the Massachusetts Senate and advocate for animal-related budget items

This week, the Massachusetts Senate will debate their budget, you can help animals in Massachusetts by contacting your Senator and asking them to:

SUPPORT the Mass Animal Fund #125

The Massachusetts Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund provides low cost spay/neuter to animals in need across Massachusetts. ARL has regularly partnered with the Fund to bring the Spay Waggin’ to communities in need. Filed by Senator John Velis, this amendment would provide additional funding to this program, increasing the number of animals the Fund can assist.

OPPOSE Sunday hunting

Sundays in Massachusetts are the one day of the week during hunting season that people can enjoy the outdoors without concern of hunting. Amendment 18 would allow for bow hunting of deer on Sundays, a day that has been off-limits to hunting for 300 years.

The Massachusetts House recently passed a $50 billion budget, and once the Senate passed their proposed budget, the two chambers will negotiate on a finalized budget proposal to submit to Governor Charlie Baker for approval.

Find your Senator and ask them to speak up for animals in this year’s budget!

Get Involved!

ARL seeks to make long-term gains for animals by advocating for humane laws, policies and regulations.

ARL engages dedicated staff and volunteers to advocate for legislation and policy with local, state and federal government.

ARL also creates informational materials and campaigns to raise public awareness on topics such as: reporting animal abuse and neglect, the benefits of spay and neutering, adopting from responsible shelters and the importance of preventive veterinary care.

Learn more about ARL’s advocacy efforts, or contact advocacy@arlboston.org with any questions, or to learn how to get involved!


Massachusetts House of Representatives to Begin Budget Debate

What you can do to help animals in Massachusetts

The 2021-2022 Legislative Session is nearing the finish line, and on Monday, April 25, the Massachusetts House of Representatives will begin to debate their budget.

As the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) continues advocating to protect animals in Massachusetts, you can help animals in the Commonwealth by contacting your Representatives and asking them to:

SUPPORT the Mass Animal Fund #1031

The Massachusetts Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund provides low cost spay/neuter to animals in need across Massachusetts. ARL has regularly partnered with the Fund to bring the Spay Waggin’ to communities in need. Filed by Representative Ted Philips, this amendment would provide additional funding to this program, increasing the number of animals the Fund can assist.

OPPOSE Sunday hunting #545

Sundays in Massachusetts are the one day of the week during hunting season that people can enjoy the outdoors without concern of hunting. Amendment #545 would allow for bow hunting of deer on Sundays, a day that has been off-limits to hunting for 300 years.

Find your Representative, and ask them to speak up for animals in this year’s budget!

Contact advocacy@arlboston.org with any questions, or to learn how to get involved.


ARL Participates in Special Ceremony to Mark Signing of Nero’s Law

This week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took part in a stirring ceremony on Cape Cod, marking the passage of Nero’s Law.

Representatives from ARL, who advocated for the passage of the legislation, also took part in the ceremony.

The ceremony, held at a Yarmouth Police training center being built in honor of Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon, had additional meaning, as the ceremony took place on the 4-year anniversary of a tragic event.

On April 12, 2018, Sgt. Gannon was shot and killed while serving a search warrant, and his K9 partner Nero, was critically wounded.

At the time, Nero could not be treated at the scene due to state law. The passage of Nero’s Law ensures that police dogs like Nero have access to emergency care and transport by first responders, should they be wounded in the field.

“We shouldn’t even have to debate or discuss whether or not they [K-9s] get shot or injured in the line of duty, that we should do what we can to save them because Lord knows they would save us if the role was reversed,” Governor Baker said.

Nero’s Law was an important part of ARL’s 2021-2022 legislative agenda, and Joe King, ARL’s Director of Law Enforcement, former K9 handler and major with the Massachusetts State Police, testified in support of the legislation, which passed unanimously at the State House.


ARL Takes Part in State House Rally Urging Legislators to Pass Boarding Kennel Regulations

This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy team participated in a rally on the front steps of the Massachusetts State House, urging legislators to pass legislation to implement uniform regulations for animal boarding facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

Currently there are no regulations regarding doggie day care and boarding facilities in Massachusetts.

At the beginning of the legislative session, a piece of legislation dubbed “Ollie’s Law” was filed, and sought to establish regulations regarding animal health and employee safety, allowing pet families to choose the best facility to suit their animal’s needs.

This legislation was born out of tragedy. In 2020, Amy Baxter brought her Labradoodle Ollie to a Western Massachusetts doggie daycare facility, only to receive a text shortly after saying Ollie had a cut and needed to be picked up. While the only employee working left the dogs unsupervised, he had been attacked by other dogs and was severely injured. Sadly Ollie died of his injuries two months later.

While the facility was shuttered by town officials, Baxter was stunned to learn that there were no state regulations regarding boarding facilities, and soon took up the fight to help ensure tragedy’s like this never happen again.

Unfortunately, the bill did not move forward.

However, An act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns (S.1332), remains very much alive, and does include language to establish regulations for boarding facilities.

ARL, along with other animals advocates make up the Ollie’s Law Coalition, and used this week’s rally to not only inform the public of a lack of regulations for boarding facilities, but to publicly urge the legislature to take action.

The goal is to prevent further tragedies like Ollie in the future.

“It’s my way honoring Ollie and also my way of healing myself and my family,” Baxter said. “If we can prevent this from happening again — whether it’s in Ollie’s name or not — then I’ll feel we accomplished something significant.”

“Every day that kennels and daycares are unregulated, the burden is on pet families to ensure that their pets are in good hands,” stated ARL Director of Advocacy Ally Blanck. “Reasonable regulation would protect pets, families, and the employees at these businesses.”

ARL’s Board Safely™ Campaign

With a continued lack of regulations in place for boarding facilities, it’s up to pet owners to do their own research when choosing a place to board their pet.

ARL’s Board Safety™ campaign provides pet families with the tools to help selecting a facility that is right for them.

Click here to see the steps you need to take to help ensure your pet will be taken care of.


Legislature Advances Bills Backed by ARL

This past week featured a flurry of activity on Beacon Hill, particularly for animal-based legislation, as several ARL priorities advanced.

Nero’s Law

Nero’s Law, filed after the tragic death of Sgt. Sean Gannon and wounding of his K9 partner Nero, was signed into law by the Governor.

Filed by staunch animal advocates Senator Mark Montigny and Representative Steven Xiarhos, this law will insure that police dogs like Nero have access to emergency care and transport.

ARL’s Director of Law Enforcement Joe King, former K9 handler and Major with the Massachusetts State Police, testified in support of this law earlier in the session.

Poaching

With Hawaii joining the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact last year, Massachusetts is now the only state that is not a member.

Unfortunately, this means that Massachusetts is not a part of the network of 49 other states who share violations of hunting violations.

Massachusetts came one step closer to joining when the anti-poaching bill, filed by Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and Senator Michael Moore, passed the House on February 9.

The bill is now in front of the Senate, where it has passed in previous sessions.

Joint Rule 10

One of the most important deadlines in the two-year legislative session is called “Joint Rule 10 Day”.

This year, February 2 was the deadline for bills to get initial approval, denial, or other action by committees.

Joint Committees are grouped by topics, and most of ARL’s bills go to committees like Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture; or Judiciary, but bills can go to any committee.

These committees hold hearings and then decide whether bills get favorable reports, adverse reports, or sent to study.

Occasionally committees will group bills together and issue a new draft that is a combination of similar bills.

Many of ARL’s priority issues were given favorable reports: kennel regulations (S.1322), a ban on traveling animal acts (S.2251), regulation of boarding facilities (S.582, H.949).

Earlier in the session, a ban on unnecessary declawing also advanced from committee (S.222).

Several of ARL’s priorities were combined into one bill that would: expand the possession ban on animal ownership for convicted animal abusers, expand civil citation authority to more animals, allow DCF employees to report animal abuse at any point in an investigation, and increase funding to the Homeless Animal Fund (S. 2672).

This year, all of the bills ARL opposed were sent to study.

This is a great win to defend animal protection measures, but there are still efforts to expand hunting and trapping.

Unfortunately, several of ARL’s priority bills were also sent to study.

Efforts to ban the retail sale of pets, end breed discrimination in housing, and increase enforcement of tethering violations will not move forward this session.

Many bills are filed multiple times before passing, making it even more noteworthy when bills are able to move forward.

Thank You!

Advancing bills on Beacon Hill is no small feat, and we couldn’t do it without the help of incredible volunteers.

The session isn’t close to over—there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and help get these bills across the finish line and on the Governor’s desk before the end of session on July 31.

Contact advocacy@arlboston.org with any questions, or for ways to get involved.

 


Governor Baker Signs Legislation to Improve Lives of Egg-Laying Hens in Massachusetts

ARL’s collaborative advocacy efforts aid in bill’s passage

This week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation to help improve the lives of millions of egg-laying hens across the Commonwealth, but also helps avert a possible egg shortage in the state had the bill not passed in the Legislature.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) collaboratively advocated for passage of the bill.

“With passage of S. 2603, the Massachusetts legislature strengthened the existing law, passed at the ballot as Question 3 in 2016, to now mandate cage-free housing with critical behavioral enrichments for the birds, such as nest boxes, perches, and dust-bathing and scratching areas,” a joint statement from ARL, HSUS, MSPCA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund said. “Importantly, the legislature also expanded application of Question 3’s protections to hens raised for liquid eggs – a move that will protect at least two million more hens each year.”

ARL would like to thank Governor Baker as well as the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Dan Cahill and Sen. Jason Lewis; Rep. Carolyn Dykema and Sen. Becca Rausch, chairs of the Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano, as well as all members of the conference committee.

Question 3 Background

In 2016, Massachusetts voters approved Question 3, An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, by a margin of over 77%.

At the time, this was the strongest farm animal protection law in not just the United States, but the world.

The initiative petition “prohibit[ed] any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely”.

This impacted not just animals raised in Massachusetts, but any whole products sold in the Commonwealth.

After Massachusetts voters chose to keep farm animals out of cruel confinement, other states followed. California, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Washington all adopted similar standards, but by this point a different style of aviary was more common for hens. The standard in these states was slightly different than that passed by Massachusetts, and has resulted in Massachusetts being an outlier.

The ballot question passed by voters in 2016 required 1.5 square foot per hen.

This assumed a flat system, without vertical space.

The new standard passed by the legislature adds an additional humane standard: 1.0 square feet per hen only when there is unfettered access to vertical space.

The commonly used aviaries of this size are similar to bookshelves, and allow hens to explore their natural behaviors with perches.

The additions also require nesting boxes for the hens to lay their eggs, and enrichments, such as scratching and dust bathing.

The updates are an improvement to animal welfare in the commonwealth, and are in line with the goals to end cruel confinement of many animals.

The law goes a step further including not only whole eggs, but also liquid and frozen eggs sold in the state, dramatically increasing the number of hens who benefit from these requirements.

Again, these requirements do not just apply to animals raised in the state, but to any whole products sold in the state, meaning that farms located outside of Massachusetts must comply with this in order to sell their products in the state come January 2022.

ARL supported the 2016 ballot question because it would substantially improve conditions for many farm animals, and we support this update for the same reason.

It is true that this effort is supported by both the proponents and opponents of Question 3—this is because this additional standard mirrors the humane standard adopted in other states.

Massachusetts helped pave the way for farm animals to not be cruelly confined, and these upgrades will improve the lives of millions of animals.