Category: Advocacy
ARL Advocacy Activity on Beacon Hill Intensifies

ARL Advocacy testifies in number of animal protection bills

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy Department was busy this past week on Beacon Hill, as ARL publicly supported several bills on the organization’s legislative agenda.

The Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources held a hearing on a number of ARL priority bills, including the ban of pet shops, regulation of commercial boarding and training facilities, funding for animal welfare and safety programming, and a ban on the sale of new fur.

Legislative rules allow that every bill get a public hearing, with opportunity for legislators and the public to share their thoughts.

While testimony could only be provided in-person previously, the Legislature now has all hearings hybrid, making it so that people from around the Commonwealth (and the world!) can testify without having to make their way into Boston.

ARL Priorities:

Filed for a number of sessions, this year the pet shop bill reflects the immediate concerns of new pet shops in Massachusetts.

An Act banning the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in new pet shops (H.826 sponsored by Representatives Natalie M. Higgins, Kimberly N. FergusonS.549 sponsored by Senator O’Connor) takes after the law passed in Maine in 2020, which would prohibit the opening of new pet stores in the Commonwealth.

With the ban on pet stores in New York, Massachusetts could become a haven for these pet stores.

ARL also provided testimony in support of An Act banning the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet shops (S.550 sponsored by Senator O’Connor).

Across Massachusetts, 13 municipalities have passed local level prohibitions on the sale of dogs and cats, with many municipalities adding additional animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

Animals from pet stores often travel long distances to get to Massachusetts, and can harbor and spread diseases dangerous to people and animals.

Small animals like rabbits are common in shelters, and the sale of them in pet shops has contributed to to a number of abandoned animals over the past few years.

ARL continues to support local level bans as well.

ARL has been supportive of efforts to protect animals at boarding and daycare facilities through increased standards for boarding and training kennels.

Filed again this session, An Act protecting dogs at boarding kennels and daycare facilities (H.385 sponsored by Representative Hannah Kane; S.548 sponsored by Senator Patrick O’Connor) would allow for uniform state standards at these facilities, including around staff to dog ratios, group sizes and supervision, and other important protections.

Currently, the only statewide standard for these facilities is that they are “sanitary and humane”.

Looking for some information on how to vet a facility before you book your pet’s holiday stay? Check out ARL’s Board Safely ™ checklist for what to look for and what questions to ask.

An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming (S.533 sponsored by Senator Mark Montigny) would take fines from animal welfare violations and, instead of them going back into the General Fund, would specifically put them into the Homeless Animal Fund, which provides for funding for spay/neuter, preventative care, and training for animal control officers.

For the second legislative session, the Massachusetts Legislature has considered a ban on all new fur sold in the state.

An Act prohibiting the sale of fur products (H.849 Sponsored by Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis and Josh S. CutlerS.590 sponsored by Senator John Velis).

Aside from the cruelty of fur farming, fur farming has contributed to the spread of diseases such as COVID-19, with outbreaks on mink farms that lead to the culling of millions of animals.

Want to learn more about how to get involved with ARL’s advocacy efforts? Contact advocacy@arlboston.org

ARL Advocates for Several Bills at MA State House

State House testimony in favor of bills to establish boarding kennel regulations; maintain stable housing for pet families in economic crisis

The Massachusetts State House saw a flurry of activity this past month, as the State Legislature wrapped up the month of September by holding hearings on a number of bills to help animals in the Commonwealth, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy team was at the forefront of testimony to encourage legislators to take action on several bills to further protect animals in the Commonwealth.

Ollie’s Law

Ollie’s Law Coalition at the MA State House.

The Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government held a hearing on several animal related bills, including Ollie’s Law filed by Representative Brian Ashe (H.2019) and Senator Mark Montigny (S.1309).

ARL testified in support of this crucial legislation, which would provide minimum standards for kennels across the Commonwealth, including pet boarding and daycare facilities and breeders.

ARL was joined in testimony in support of these measures by members of the Ollie’s Law Coalition, including several pet parents who tragically lost their dogs at these facilities.

ARL has long been a vocal advocate for regulations of kennels, including our Board Safely Campaign. While these facilities are not subject to care and housing requirements, we recommend the public use our checklist to determine if a facility is right for you and your pet.

Learn more at: https://www.arlboston.org/board-safely/

ARL testifying at the MA State House.

Supporting Pet Families in Economic Crisis

The Joint Committee on Housing held a hearing that included An Act to maintain stable housing for families with pets in an economic crisis and beyond filed by Representatives Rogers and Montaño (H.1367) and Senator Gobi (S.876).

These bills would help pets and people stay together by ending breed-based discrimination in insurance and housing.

Breed based discrimination is not based in data and relies on outdated attitudes around breeds that are perceived to be dangerous.

Housing is overwhelmingly a barrier to families staying with their pets, and ARL was joined by many advocates who told their stories of how this has impacted them.

Get Involved

The Massachusetts Legislature will continue to hold hearings on bills on ARL’s Legislative Agenda and encourage anyone who is passionate about protecting animals throughout the state to become involved.

Have questions or want to get involved? Contact advocacy@arlboston.org for more information.

ARL Reminds Pet Owners to Keep Pets Safe During Heat Wave

Heat wave with high humidity poses threats to pet health

With an oppressive heat wave poised to settle into the area over the next few days, a wide swath of Massachusetts will be under a heat advisory, while the City of Boston has issued a heat emergency, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is reminding pet owners to take measures to keep pets comfortable and safe during this time.

Keep your pet safe and healthy by following these important basic guidelines:

  • Prevention is always your best bet. Whenever possible, leave your pet at home in a cool humidity and temperature-regulated room.
  • If your pet must be outdoors, find a shady spot with ample air flow to prevent overheating.
  • Hydration is key, so keep a bowl of cold water accessible at all times.
  • Limit exercise to the morning or evening hours when temperatures are at their coolest. Aside from the heat, the high humidity can cause respiratory issues for animals, particularly short-snouted animals (i.e. pugs).
  • Be mindful of surface temperatures. Asphalt, concrete, or brick surfaces absorb heat and surface temperatures can exceed 145 degrees can cause severe burns to your pet’s paws! Apply the 7-second rule – place the back of your hand on a surface and if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.
  • When the temperatures rise, it’s Too Hot for Spot®! Never leave your pet alone in a parked car — even with the air conditioner on or the windows cracked.

It is illegal in Massachusetts to keep an animal confined in a vehicle during extreme hot or cold conditions, and when a weather advisory is issued, it is also illegal to keep dogs tethered for longer than five hours in a 24-hour period.

Dogs also cannot be tethered outdoors between 10 PM and 6 AM, unless for not more than 15 minutes and when the owner/keeper is present.

ARL Teams with NE Revolution, Mass State Police, MassDot, RMV for Too Hot for Spot® Demonstration

When the Temperature Rises – It’s Too Hot for Spot®!

As New England continues to see extremely hot summer conditions, this week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) teamed up with the New England Revolution, Massachusetts State Police (MSP), Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDot), and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, for ARL’s 10th annual summer safety campaign, Too Hot for Spot®, to remind pet owners about the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot car.

ARL hosted a press event at the organization’s Dedham Campus, which included a demonstration of how quickly the interior of a vehicle can heat up.

A large thermometer was placed in a vehicle by Slyde, the NE Revolution’s mascot, and with an outside temperature of 80 degrees, in less than 10 minutes the interior temperature of the vehicle soared to over 115 degrees!

Unlike humans, animals cannot efficiently cool their bodies.

And if you think that cracking the windows will help keep your pet cool – it won’t.

As demonstrated, the inside of a vehicle can heat up to well over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes, and the stifling heat inside a car makes animals susceptible to heat stroke, and the onset of symptoms is rapid.

Common symptoms of heat stroke in animals include lethargy or weakness, heavy panting, glazed eyes, profuse salivation, excessive thirst, lack of coordination, a deep red or purple tongue, vomiting – and it can even cause seizures, unconsciousness, or death.

With the onset of heat stroke, every second counts, so if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is critical that you take them immediately to the closest veterinary hospital for treatment.

Health hazards aside, it is also against the law in Massachusetts to keep an animal confined in a vehicle when extreme heat or cold may threaten the animal’s health – and law enforcement throughout the Commonwealth will be on the lookout throughout the summer.

Please, when it is hot outside, leave your pet at home.

Set them up in a cool, humidity and temperature-controlled room, give them plenty of water, and make sure to limit their outdoor exercise to the morning or evening hours when it is coolest.

Learn more about summer pet safety tips.

Thank You

ARL would like to thank the New England Revolution, Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and Registry of Motor Vehicles for helping spread ARL’s Too Hot for Spot® summer safety campaign to the masses.

This campaign saves lives and ARL thanks you!

ARL Law Enforcement Participates in Important Training Sessions

ARL Law Enforcement offers vital training for local, state, and federal law enforcement

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department recently hosted and participated in two important training sessions involving animal control officers, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the next generation of Massachusetts State Police Troopers.

ARL Hosts HSUS for Court Procedure Training

This past month, the Rabe Family Education and Training Center at ARL’s Dedham Campus hosted a special training in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), to educate animal control officers, veterinarians, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels.

The training focused on testifying about animal crimes in a courtroom setting, which can present a unique set of challenges for law enforcement.

The four-hour training session focused on special considerations for cases related to intimate partner violence, how to effectively work with witnesses and utilizing experts, and how to effectively navigate cross-examination.

The training session involved more than 100 participants, and organizers were thrilled with the turnout, highlighting that the training will result in future success in cases involving animal cruelty and related crimes.

“There’s a lot of cases that don’t necessarily get the full attention they deserve,” said HSUS Law Enforcement Trainer Erin Aiello. “By training ACO’s so they can take it all the way, having them understand what prosecutors are looking for, what’s important at trial, the importance of them to a judge and a jury, really can make sure these cases are being seen and being valued all the way through the process.”

ARL Law Enforcement and Advocacy Visit MSP Academy

For the past several years, ARL has had the privilege to present to State Trooper cadets at the Massachusetts State Police Academy, and representative from ARL’s Law Enforcement and Advocacy Departments were once again tabbed recently to address the 88th Recruit Training Troop.

During the training session, ARL addressed existing animal cruelty laws, recognizing signs of animal abuse, and how ARL can assist local and state law enforcement agencies in investigating cases of suspected animal cruelty.

ARL is honored to have had this incredible opportunity to instruct the next generation of Massachusetts State Troopers, and look forward to continuing this collaborative effort with the Massachusetts State Police.

Lobby Day for Animals Returns to State House

ARL joins other animal welfare organizations, citizen advocates to lobby for animal protection law

For the first time since 2019, Lobby Day for Animals returned to the Massachusetts State House, with the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy Department joining other animal welfare organizations, citizen advocates and elected officials to lobby for proposed animal protection laws currently in front of the Massachusetts Legislature.

The event was once again held in the Great Hall at the State House, and focused on several bills currently being considered by the Massachusetts Legislature.

These bills included a cruelty omnibus bill, a housing and pets bill, the usage of animals in traveling exhibits, and a declaw bill.

Several speakers, including ARL Director of Advocacy Ally Blanck spoke on the aforementioned pieces of legislation, and following the event’s speaking program, organizers escorted citizen advocates to their respective elected officials to lobby on behalf of these important bills to further protect animals in Massachusetts.

ARL was thrilled for the return of Lobby Day for Animals, and will continue to advocate for these important measures, and invite anyone who cares for animals and wants animals throughout the state to be better protected, to join ARL’s fight and to reach out to your state representatives to encourage them to be a voice for animals by supporting the bills currently under consideration.

The event was also a resounding success, as a number of legislators have now added their names as co-sponsors for several pieces of animal-related legislation.

Looking to get involved?

Your voice matters, and ARL encourages you to become an animal advocate!

For animal-related bills that are currently part of the ongoing legislation session, please see ARL’s 2023-2024 Legislative Agenda, and join the fight to help animals in the Commonwealth!

Ollie’s Law Coalition Rallies on State House Steps

Coalition urges Legislature to take action on Ollie’s Law to regulate Massachusetts boarding facilities

This week, the “Ollie’s Law Coalition”, which includes the Animal Rescue League of Boston, rallied on the steps of the Massachusetts State House, asking legislatures to step up and help protect pets throughout the Commonwealth while in the care of a boarding facility.

Currently there are no state regulations for these types of facilities, and during the rally, a number of Massachusetts residents relived their harrowing experiences while expressing how uniform regulations may have prevented the pain and suffering their animals endured while being boarded.

An Act to Increase Kennel Safety (H.2019; S.1309) aka Ollie’s Law, would establish standards regarding animal health and employee safety, allowing pet families to choose the best facility to suit their animal’s needs.

The coalition consists of a number of organizations including ARL, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), Dakin Humane Society, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Boston Dog Lawyers, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, JM Pet Resort, among others.

The Ollie’s Law proposed 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 been attacked by other dogs.

He was severely injured, and sadly 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 tragedies like this never happen again.

ARL’s Board Safely™ Campaign

While there are currently no regulations for boarding facilities in Massachusetts, ARL’s Board Safely™ campaign helps guide pet owners when choosing a facility for their pets.

The campaign includes steps to take while researching boarding facilities, as well as what questions you should be asking.

How Can I Help?

ARL urges proponents of Ollie’s Law to contact their state elected officials, to urge the discussion and ultimate passage of this important piece of legislation.

ARL will continue to advocate not just for Ollie’s Law, but for other proposed bills to further protect animals throughout the Commonwealth.

Learn more about ARL’s Legislation Agenda, and how you can help advocate for animals in Massachusetts!

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.


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.