Boston Veterinary Care Monthly

A life-threatening infection and a life-saving surgery

Recently, the family of three-year-old Mica noticed she was lethargic, not eating, and her abdomen was distended. Alarmed, they brought her to Boston Veterinary Care (BVC), and just in the nick of time.

An examination and x-ray confirmed that Mica was suffering from pyometra — a uterine infection that requires immediate attention. If left untreated, a uterine rupture would spread the infection into the abdominal cavity, and spell certain death. While not an uncommon condition, Mica’s case was severe.

“This was the worst case of pyometra I’ve seen in a cat,” said BVC Lead Veterinarian Dr. Nicole Breda. “Mica was close to rupture and needed surgery to remove the uterus and the infection, and to save her life.”

Quick action led to a successful surgery, and in the process Mica lost a third of her body weight. Mica weighed nine pounds upon check-in, and the removed infected area weighed an astonishing three pounds! With the crisis averted, Mica has her life back and is back home where she belongs.

“She’s doing well, her owner is so grateful to BVC for saving Mica’s life, and she will go onto have a nice long and healthy life,” Dr. Breda said.

Discover BVC

Located in Boston’s South End, BVC is the clinic with a mission — all profits benefit ARL’s shelter animals.

Along with a FREE wellness exam for new clients, BVC offers a variety of high-quality outpatient services including:

Wellness examinations and vaccinations

  •         Surgery
  •         Dental care
  •         Senior pet care
  •         Advanced diagnostics
  •         Radiology/diagnostic imaging

Cat-Only Night

A trip to the vet can be stressful for any animal, but particularly for cats. That’s why BVC also offers a cats-only night every Tuesday! Schedule your cat’s exam for after 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and enjoy a dog-free waiting room — less stress for you and your feline friend! 

To schedule an appointment call (617) 226-5605, or email


Knee Surgery Saves Community Cat’s Leg

James Starting Physical Therapy

For humans, knee surgery is a common procedure due to injury or sometimes with age; for one cat who recently came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), knee surgery wound up saving his leg, and possibly his life.

When one-year-old James was brought to ARL’s Community Surgical Clinic, his physical exam revealed muscle wasting on his hind limbs, which caused concern for ARL veterinary staff.

“His legs were skinny, and it was also noted that one of his patellas (knee caps) was out of place,” said ARL Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gollon.

Medially luxating patellas are common in dogs, but relatively rare in cats. The condition can be quite painful, drastically limiting movement and in some cases causing lameness and muscle wasting.

James was facing two options: amputation or surgery. ARL veterinary staff saw amputation as a last resort, and did not want to remove a limb from the handsome Havana Brown cat, so opted for surgery.

The procedure, which was performed at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, called a trochlear block recession, essentially deepens the groove where the patella normally sits, and is then secured in place by tightening the connective tissues around it.

Post-Surgical Therapy

Just like when humans have knee surgery, James also needs to undergo physical therapy to strengthen his knee to be able to regain full use of his leg. James’ foster parents are performing a number of exercises with James every day to build strength and agility.

He continues to make noticeable progress by being able to put more weight on the leg, and will be made available for adoption when he is back to 100 percent.

Why Your Support Matters

Being a Community Cat and given his condition, it’s likely James would not have been able to survive living on the streets, and through ARL’s Community Cat Initiative and surgical clinic, James was able to be rescued and receive the medical treatment needed to ensure a long, healthy, and happy life. ARL receives no government funding, and relies on the generosity of individuals like you to make these programs possible, so THANK YOU for affording ARL the opportunity to help yet another animal in need!



ARL Sheltering Displaced Animals Following Tragic Barn Fire

Animals Doing Well in the Wake of Trauma

This past weekend, a horrific barn fire in Holliston tragically claimed the lives of dozens of animals. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) responded to assist Holliston’s Animal Control Officer and first responders on-scene in rounding up surviving animals who scattered once they were freed from the barn.

ARL rescued and transported six chickens, four ducks, and two rabbits to its Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center. Additionally, three piglets were rescued and brought to a partner organization for treatment of minor burns and smoke inhalation.

The animals have been given shelter, food, water and physical examinations by ARL veterinary staff and despite the trauma, are doing well and adjusting to their new environment. The survivors will be with ARL for as long as they need to be and will receive the ongoing compassionate care and treatment they need to continue to thrive.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

ARL in the News

ARL’s collaborative efforts to save these animals has garnered much attention from national and local media including: WCVB, WFXT, the Boston Herald, Metro West Daily News, among many others.


Legislative Update: ARL-Supported Poaching Bill Passes Through Massachusetts Senate

Bill Aims to Stiffen and Modernize Illegal Hunting Penalties

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed proposed legislation aimed to protect wildlife by increasing penalties and measures to stop illegal hunting, or poaching, in the state. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has publicly advocated for the measure since its filing in January of 2017.

Many of the state’s current poaching penalties are about a century out of date, and S. 2248, an Act Further Regulating the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices, would modernize the current antiquated legislation. This bill would bring penalties in line with other states, elevating fines, jail time, and hunting and fishing license suspensions for certain crimes, including the commercialization of fish and wildlife.

Additionally the legislation would bring Massachusetts into the Interstate Law Enforcement Compact. Currently Massachusetts is one of only three states that is not a member of the network which has been helping wildlife agencies increase compliance with wildlife laws for 25 years.

With passage in the Senate, the bill will now go to the House. ARL would like to thank Senate bill sponsor Senator Mike Moore and House bill sponsors, Representatives Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Lori Ehrlich, and Cory Atkins for all their hard work and dedication.

Get Involved

ARL is dedicated to preventing animal cruelty and neglect by strengthening law and public policy, and continues to be a voice for domesticated animals and wildlife in need. Please view our current Legislative Agenda, and we urge you to contact your representatives and encourage them to help further animal protection policy in Massachusetts.


Sato Undergoes Costly Emergency Hernia Surgery

Tinker Expected to Make Full Recovery

Tinker, a 3-year-old Italian Greyhound Mix, was one of 11 dogs who came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) just after Christmas as part of a transport from All Sato Rescue in Puerto Rico. Being jet-bound from the island to Boston likely saved Tinker’s life.

According to All Sato, Tinker’s owner had moved after Hurricane Maria, and had simply left the sweet and loving dog behind. While initially seeming perfectly healthy, several days after her arrival in Boston, Tinker was spayed, and following surgery, ARL veterinary staff noticed she was having a hard time breathing.

tinker blog thumb

Tinker’s surgery was a success and she is on the road to recovery!

X-rays were taken and confirmed the diagnosis of a diaphragmatic hernia — a protrusion of the abdominal viscera into the diaphragm caused by a tear, which prohibits the lungs from expanding normally.  Despite attempts to make her comfortable, Tinker continued to have breathing issues, and was transferred to an Emergency Specialty Hospital for surgery.

Tinker’s condition was likely caused by a previous trauma, such as being hit by a car. She remained stable by probably limiting her activity but one thing is certain — she is lucky to have made it to ARL to have the problem corrected before she suffered from any life-threatening complications.

Road to Recovery

Tinker will remain in foster care for a little while longer as she continues to heal from her surgery, but will soon be made available for adoption so be sure to check back for updates!

YOU Can Help Even More Animals Like Tinker in 2018!

Tinker’s life-saving surgery cost approximately $4,500, and while animals like Tinker depend on us to care for them and make them well, we depend on YOU to support and help us continue our critical work. Animals at ARL receive the specialized veterinary care, kind attention, and socialization they need to thrive — only because of YOUR generous donations. Thank you for being a champion for animals and for giving generously today!


Boston “Puppy Mill Bill” Takes Effect

Ordinance Prohibits Sale of Puppies, Kittens and Rabbits in Boston Pet Shops

In March 2016, Boston City Council voted unanimously on an ordinance to ban the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits in Boston pet shops, as well as in public parks and city streets. The ordinance took effect on December 31, 2017.

The ordinance was introduced by City Councilor Matt O’Malley and garnered tremendous support from the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and other local and national animal welfare organizations.

“We are grateful to the Boston City Council for taking action for animals,” Mary Nee, President of ARL, said at the time of its passage. “The more we do to prevent inhumane breeders from growing their business in Massachusetts, the more we improve the safety and health of animals in our communities.”

Under the “Puppy Mill Bill” a pet shop within the city limits cannot sell, deliver, give away or transfer any commercially-bred dogs, cats, or rabbits. Additionally, citizens are prohibited from selling, exchanging, trading, or displaying for commercial purposes any dog, cat, or rabbit on any city street or public park. Animals for sale can however be displayed by animal organizations like ARL, or as part of an exhibition or educational program.

Puppy mills support the breeding of animals, and many of these animals are kept in unthinkable conditions, treated inhumanely, and suffer from disease; in an act to combat these operations ARL once again salutes Boston City Council and Mayor Marty Walsh for being champions for animals!



News Release: With Weather Advisories Come Tethering Restrictions

Animal Owners Can be Cited for Non-Compliance

With blizzard and winter storm warnings posted for much of Massachusetts, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) reminds pet owners that Massachusetts law prohibits excessive tethering when such weather advisories have been issued.

According to Massachusetts General Law Ch. 140, Section 174E, Subsection D:

A person shall not leave a dog outside when a weather advisory, warning or watch is issued by a local, state or federal authority or when outside environmental conditions including, but not limited to, extreme heat, cold, wind, rain, snow or hail pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the dog based on the dog’s breed, age or physical condition, unless the tethering is not for more than 15 minutes.

Under this law, any law enforcement officer, including special law enforcement officers with ARL and the MSPCA have the authority to issue citations or warning for owners who do not comply: $50 first offense, $100 second offense, $300 and possible loss of ownership with a third or subsequent offenses.

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston has received numerous reports from concerned citizens who have seen not just dogs, but cats, rabbits, horses and other animals who are outdoors and lack adequate shelter,” said Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “Animal protection statutes are in place for a reason, and owners need to take these weather conditions seriously, and make sure their pets are taken care of properly, or they could face legal consequences.”

With the impending storm, it’s important for animal owners to prepare not just for the snow and wind, but for the arctic conditions that will set in following the snowfall. Any preparatory storm plans need to incorporate animals.

“With a significant storm on Thursday and dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills on Friday and Saturday, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) urges people to take precautions to keep their pets safe,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “People are asked to limit the time pets are outdoors, keep pets out of unattended vehicles, and to keep pets on leashes near frozen bodies of water.”

Here are some other tips to keep in mind to keep animals safe:

  1. Prepare your dog for the elements. If you have a longer coat dog, let it grow out for the winter; for shorter coat dogs, sweaters, coats and booties can go a long way to protect your pooch.
  2. Wipe off your dog’s paws and stomach. Chemicals used to treat sidewalks can irritate your dog’s paws, and can be poisonous if ingested. When coming in from the cold, clean and dry your dog’s stomach to keep them healthy!
  3. Keep outdoor trips quick. Bathroom breaks or walks, keep it short and sweet and keep your pets indoors as much as possible.
  4. Never leave your dog alone in a cold car. Temperatures inside a car can plummet when the engine is turned off. When going out, leave your animals at home.
  5. Pay attention to your pet’s grooming and health. An animal with a matted coat cannot keep him or herself warm! Senior pets also suffer from increased arthritis pain in the cold, so check with your veterinarian on how to keep your pet comfortable.
  6. Check under the hood. Cats love to warm up underneath the hood of a car, as the residual heat from the engine burns off. Always pound on the hood of your vehicle and do a quick visual check before starting the engine.

Bottom line, if it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s also too cold for your pet to be outside.



ARL Reflections: A Look Back at an Amazing 2017

Social Media Sensations!

An innovative idea, a heroic story of survival, or a sad case of abandonment which stirs our emotions and captivates the masses. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) found itself at the forefront of the social media world throughout 2017; garnering attention locally, nationally, and in some cases globally.

Watch the Top Social Media Sensations of 2017!

sm thumb1The Kitten Pouch. Invented by a volunteer about a decade ago, the kitten pouch allows staff to safely tote around under-socialized kittens and let them get used to being around humans. A Facebook post on this device went viral, and had animal welfare organizations from around the globe asking for the pattern for use in their respective facilities.


sm thumb3Ted. This curious little kitten was discovered wandering around the Ted Williams Tunnel during the Labor Day holiday weekend. When ARL responded, State Police assisted by shutting down traffic lanes so the little guy could be brought to safety.



sm thumb4Coffee. Coffee’s rescuers first saw Coffee walking near their car at a Starbucks — in Virginia. Turns out the kitten was looking for warmth, as he had wormed his way under the hood. His rescuers heard him meowing outside of New York City, and discovered him wedged between the grill and radiator! Once in Boston, the couple brought Coffee to ARL for treatment.


sm thumb2Trooper. When this poor kitten was trapped on the median along Route 128, he was rescued by a Massachusetts State Police Trooper, and his quick actions helped save the kittens life.



sm thumb5Phil. Phil was an instant media sensation when he was found abandoned in the cold along a road in Hingham. Many were shocked and dismayed, wondering why anyone would cast him aside like garbage; many also called ARL wanting to take him home! Phil’s story went national, and he even received care packages from as far away as Florida!


Want to see more? Click the links below!

2017 Terrific Transformations

2017 Top Animal Rescues

2017 Top Animal Protection Stories

2017 Animal Transport Recap

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

Only because of YOUR support could animals like Phil, Trooper, Ted, or Coffee receive the compassionate care that they so desperately needed. With your continued support, we can get at the root causes of neglect and abuse to ensure that all animals have a chance at a safe and healthy home in 2018. ARL receives no government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of individuals like you to keep our important work going. Thank you for being a champion for animals and for giving generously today!


News Release: ARL Announces Receipt of PetSmart Charities Grant


December 29, 2017 — BOSTON, MA — Today, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) announced its receipt of a new $70,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America. The new grant will support intake diversion programs at ARL that will help local pets thrive and keep people and pets together.

ARL’s intake diversion grant is designed to provide a weekly, subsidized pet wellness clinic in the Codman Square neighborhood in Dorchester. The clinic is part of an on-going pilot project in the neighborhood to ensure pets in the community stay safe, healthy, and happy.

“Our research shows that in this neighborhood, the lack of access to affordable pet health services is bordering on crisis levels,” said Cheryl Traversi, ARL’s Associate Director of Community Services. “This generous grant allows ARL to truly impact our local community by bringing pet health and wellness services where they’re needed, thereby helping to keep pets safe, healthy, and at home with the people and families who love them.”

Historically, funding to support emerging best practices like intake diversion programming has been hard to come by in animal welfare. That’s why PetSmart Charities identified this as an area of great need, both for shelters and for pet parents across North America, and developed this new grant category.

“At PetSmart Charities, we understand that access to veterinary care can be a challenge, so we’ve allocated funding for local intake diversion programs to help subsidize health and wellness clinics aimed at keeping pets and people together,” said Sima Thakkar, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “We wish the Animal Rescue League of Boston great success with their pop-up pet wellness clinic in Dorchester and we are proud to support access to high-quality, affordable pet health and wellness services for Codman Square residents.”

Intake Diversion is just one of PetSmart Charities’ ten grant categories designed to support their expanded mission: to find lifelong loving homes for all pets by supporting programs that bring people and pets together. Funding from PetSmart Charities supports best practices and thought leadership that enhance the human-animal bond and keep more pets in loving homes and forever families. For more information, visit



The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes. Founded in 1899, ARL provides high quality veterinary care, adoption, and rescue services; while also confronting the root causes of animal cruelty and neglect through innovative community programs, police investigations, and public advocacy. In 2016, ARL served more than 17,800 animals throughout Massachusetts. ARL is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. We receive no government funding and rely solely on the generosity of individuals to support programs and services that help animals in need.

For more information please visit us online at; and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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

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