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Category: Boston Veterinary Care
Southbridge Animal Control Officer Named 2020 “ACO of the Year”

Southbridge, MA – The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) are proud to announce that Southbridge Animal Control Officer (ACO) Katelyn Spencer has been named Animal Control Officer of the Year for 2020.

ACO of the Year Katelyn Spencer.

ARL and MSPCA established the ACO of the Year award to honor an animal control officer whose efforts in their local community throughout the year have promoted responsible pet ownership by:

  • manifesting a dedicated, humane attitude toward the treatment and well-being of all animals
  • effectively enforcing pet responsibility laws
  • conducting public awareness and humane education programs
  • maintaining cooperative working relationships with other agencies involved with animals, such as state and local government departments, other ACOs, and animal protection groups

Officer Spencer has been Southbridge’s ACO since 2017, and has consistently demonstrated dedication and compassion for both wild and domestic animals in distress throughout the community. Along with responding to hundreds of calls, Officer Spencer held vaccination and microchip clinics for residents in 2018 and 2019 (2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic), and spearheaded efforts to update the town’s Keeping of Pets bylaw, which was enacted in August 2020.

Spencer exemplifies the traits ARL and MSPCA look for each year in an ACO.

“ARL Law Enforcement has worked with Officer Spencer on a number of occasions and in each instance she was professional, dedicated and compassionate for the animals involved,” stated Joe King, ARL Director of Law Enforcement. “Officer Spencer is a credit to the profession and a true asset to the Southbridge animal community.”

“We are excited to recognize Katelyn as the ACO of the Year. Her nominations were stellar and she clearly embodies the traits we look for. She sets an example for the profession,” stated Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA.

Officer Spencer’s nominations for ACO of the Year included a number of accolades, heralding her dedication to animals and community, professionalism, and compassion.

From those who nominated her:

  • “Katelyn has worked tirelessly to rescue animals both domestic and wild. Her dedication and compassion has saved a multitude of lives”
  • “I have worked as a law enforcement professional for more than 25 years… and in my experiences with ACO Spencer, I have not worked with a more professional or dedicated person to the proper treatment of ALL animals.”
  • “There is absolutely no task she cannot perform…she puts her heart on the line with every animal that crosses her path and the families that they belong to.”

USPS Mail Carrier Delivers Support for Stray Cat

Mail carrier built outdoor shelter, contacted ARL to rescue and rehome

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to acknowledge an incredible act of kindness that took place amid the holiday delivery rush in early December.

While delivering mail, a compassionate, yet anonymous, United States Postal Service mail carrier in Cambridge, MA, went above and beyond their duties to deliver special support for a friendly stray in the Jackson Circle area.

The mail carrier was not only feeding the cat, later named Jackson, but had also constructed a cardboard shelter to help protect the animal from the elements.

As temperatures dipped and winter began to take hold, showing great concern for Jackson, the mail carrier contacted ARL’s Field Services Department to rescue the cat from a life on the streets.

Jackson, who’s estimated to be eight-years-old, was extremely friendly when approached by ARL Field Services staff, and was brought to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

A thorough veterinary exam revealed extensive dental disease, to the point where all but one of Jackson’s canines were cracked down to the root.

Additionally Jackson had a number of abrasions, and tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, which cannot be transmitted to humans but can be spread via bite wounds between cats. It should be noted that cats who test positive for FIV do go on to lead normal and healthy lives.

ARL shelter medicine staff performed a deep dental cleaning on Jackson, and because of the severity of his dental disease, 10 teeth needed to be extracted.

After recovering from his medical procedures, Jackson quickly found his forever home just in time for the holidays, and is thriving in his new environment under a new name – Teddy!

ARL is grateful to this anonymous mail carrier and their incredible act of compassion and kindness to not only look after Jackson but to make sure he didn’t have to spend another winter on the tough streets of Boston.


Celebrate a Pet’s First Holiday at Home – Safely!

Many people welcomed a new animal family member in their homes during 2020, and this will be their first holiday season together.

While the holiday season can bring joy to the humans in your household, it can also be a sensory overload for pets.  Bright lights, shiny objects, trees inside the home, new sounds and smells can make pets both anxious and curious about the abrupt change in their surroundings.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) shares these 5 tips for keeping all the furry members of your household safe during the holiday festivities:

  1. Decorate with care. Ribbons and tinsel are especially attractive and hazardous to cats. Holiday plants like mistletoe, holly, lilies, and poinsettias can cause vomiting, upset stomach, and blisters in your pet’s mouth.
  2. Secure your tree. Your frisky feline won’t be the first to topple over a 6-foot fir! Support your tree with a sturdy stand and wires to prevent tipping, should they decide to make a leap for it. For your canine companions, consider surrounding the base with a baby gate and hanging fragile ornaments higher on your tree. Also, watch for tree water spillage that might contain fertilizers and other toxic chemicals.
  3. Menorah or candle placement. Avoid placing the menorah, or lit candles anywhere your pet can reach or on a surface that can be toppled over.
  4. Watch out for wires. Chewing on electrical cords can cause severe oral burns and even fatal shocks for cats and dogs. Secure cords with plastic casing you can find at a hardware store, or cover with a bitter-tasting, non-toxic product from your local pet supply shop.
  5. Plan your pet’s meal around yours. This will keep your pet occupied and will make them less likely to try and partake in your holiday. Common holiday foods that can be toxic to our pets include: turkey skin, poultry bones, mushrooms, onions, grapes, raisins, certain types of nuts, raw dough, chocolate, and dairy products.

Planning on adopting a pet for a family member or loved one?  Please don’t make it a surprise!  Bringing a new pet into a home is a huge decision and commitment, and the entire household should be involved in the process. There should be a conversation to see if the person not only wants a pet, but also what type of pet would best suit their lifestyle and living situation.

Yes, the puppy with the big red bow around its neck is a great image, but if you really want to get a pet as a gift, I would recommend giving a stuffed animal as a place-holder until the recipient is ready to take the next steps.

If you’re spending your holidays with a new pet than you’ve already received the best gift! Please, keep these tips in mind so we can all have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.


There is still time to make a difference for animals this year

The past 12 months have been challenging, however, you have shown that there is compassion and kindness in this world – thank you.

With your support, we adapted our programs to do everything we could to keep more pets with their families and help the animals who came through our doors.

Because of you, the following was made possible:

  • 2110+ animals found forever homes
  • 719+ services were provided to pets and pet owners in need, including
    • Temporary emergency shelter for pets
    • Pick up of pets needing critical veterinary care
    • Arrangements for emergency surrender of pets
  • More than 55,000 meals were delivered to our community

As we continue to face uncertainty, one thing is certain – we cannot continue this important work without you. And, your support is needed now, more than ever.

As the pandemic continues to affect the world, our work is more difficult. Increased economic challenges are causing a surge in the need for community-based services like low-cost veterinary care, temporary shelter, and access to essential pet supplies.

We are also preparing for a possible influx of owned animals, as Boston’s eviction moratorium expired in October and it is projected that thousands of individuals, families, and their pets will lose their housing.

Today, you have the chance to help us solve these pressing challenges. Your generous year-end gift will ensure that animals in need can get the care they count on including, food, sanctuary, medical care, love, and emergency rescue if they are in danger.

We hope we can count on your support by making a gift today, as we continue to work to keep pets in homes and out of shelters.

More than 35% of ARL’s funding arrives in December – now is a critical time to give to ensure we are ready to help animals and the people who love them today and in the new year.

Thank you for being there for animals during these unprecedented and challenging times.

We wish for you a safe and happy holiday season and the anticipation of a less challenging new year.

Prefer to give by check?

Please have your envelope postmarked by 12/31/2020 and mail to:

Animal Rescue League of Boston ATTN: Development, 10 Chandler Street; Boston, MA 02116.

Need assistance or prefer to give by phone?

Please call us at (617) 426-9170 x603

Did you know the CARES Act may include additional tax benefits for you if you make a charitable gift this year? Click here to learn more.

ARL does not receive any government grants or public funding (with the exception of limited COVID-19 relief funding) and relies solely on the donations of individuals like you to keep animals happy and healthy in their habitats and homes – YOU make our important work possible.


Holiday “Star” Seeking New Home for the Holidays

“Star” was one of more than 20 cats that came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center in September, after being removed from an overcrowding situation in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Star’s journey has been lengthy, but she has displayed remarkable perseverance and is hoping to find her new home just in time for the holidays.

Like many cats from this type of situation, Star was diagnosed with a severe upper respiratory infection. But while overcoming this hurdle, Star was not done confronting medical difficulties.

Star is looking for her forever family!

A thorough veterinary examination by ARL’s shelter medicine staff revealed a nasopharyngeal polyp, as well as strabismus.

A nasopharyngeal polyp is a benign growth that can extend into either the ear canal or the throat area. It’s likely the polyp was caused by previous inflammation or viral infection.

Strabismus is a condition where the eyes do not properly align with each other. The condition can occur in any direction; in Star’s case, her eyes turn upward and outward.

Star’s polyp was successfully removed, and she did require time in a foster home to allow her to heal in a quiet and peaceful environment.

 Sweet and Shy

When Star arrived at ARL, she had a very sweet disposition, and was constantly seeking attention and purring.

Following her polyp removal, her behavior changed slightly, particularly upon returning from foster care. Star was now more reserved, shy, and unsure of new people.

The reason for this behavior change is unknown, but continuing to show her resilience, over a period of days and weeks in the shelter environment Star has reverted to her former self and is once again seeking attention – she does however remain shy with new people.

Animals at ARL continuously show us awe-inspiring examples of strength, determination and resilience – Star has certainly demonstrated these qualities and is ready to find her forever home.

For more information about Star click here!

You Make These Outcomes Possible

While it is difficult to predict the on-going impacts of this global crisis, one thing remains constant – animals in our communities are still in need.

And with a great need for these ongoing and expanding community services, Champions Circle members are there to answer the call for help.

Thanks to you, Star was able to not only be rescued from her situation, but received the extensive support she needed in order to have a second chance.

Champions Circle members provide steady support that sustains life-saving measures and second chances for homeless and at-risk animals all year long.

During unprecedented times like these when fundraising events have been cancelled or modified, monthly gifts are crucial to providing life-saving care and assistance to animals when they need it most.

By becoming a Champions Circle member today, you are ensuring that animals in need will the care they deserve, even during crisis.

Why does monthly giving matter?

  • Spreading out your donation in increments throughout the year makes your giving budget work harder and creates an even bigger impact for animals.
  • Monthly giving is a convenient, affordable, and efficient way to make a difference in the lives of animals in our community.
  • 60% of ARL’s funding comes in during the last quarter of the year- and most of it during the last 2 weeks in December – yet animals need help every day. Monthly support from Champions Circle donors provides animals with care and assistance when they need it most.

Use this secure link to join now, or call Derek at (617) 426-9170 x162.


ARL Cares for Pair of  Turtles Found in Apartment

This past week the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was contacted about a pair of aquatic turtles that had been discovered by a landlord who was cleaning out an apartment that had recently been vacated.

ARL’s Field Services Department responded to the Greater Boston apartment and transported them to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The red eared slider and alligator snapping turtle were not getting the proper amount of UVB light and were also being kept in water that was too cold for them.

Once in ARL’s care, the turtles were placed in a proper environment, and later released to a local wildlife expert for further care.

Check Local Regulations

It’s important, particularly with reptiles, to consult local regulations to make sure that the animal is legal to own.

A permit is needed to own the turtles involved in this incident.


Cape Cod Foundation Grant Funds Spay/Neuter Surgeries

ARL’s Spay Waggin’ Makes Special Stops in Falmouth

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to thank The Cape Cod Foundation for its generous $5,000 grant that made it possible for more than two dozen Cape Cod residents to have their pet spayed or neutered free of charge.

ARL reached out to a number of Cape-based human service support organizations to refer clients with pets in need of spay/neuter. Clients then brought their animals to the parking lot outside Petco along Davis Straits Road, where ARL’s Spay Waggin’ was parked.

The Spay Waggin’ is a state-of-the-art mobile surgical unit, and clients were able to drop their pets off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon following the surgical procedure.

Since 2000, more than 60,000 animals have been spayed/neutered aboard ARL’s Spay Waggin’, for clients throughout the South Coast, South Shore, and Cape Cod and the Islands.


Nine-Year-Old Cat Finds a Forever Home Just in Time for the Holidays

“Lexi” overcoming health and behavioral issues

Every animal in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) deserves a loving home for the holidays, and every adoption is special. But sometimes animals have to overcome hurdles in order to find their perfect match, which was the case for Lexi, a nine-year-old cat who recently found her new home.

Lexi’s journey with ARL actually began in 2017.

Lexi was adopted and returned twice, both for the same concern: house-soiling.

There are numerous reasons as to why a cat would house-soil – it could be a serious underlying medical condition, age, or, in Lexi’s case, her house-soiling was ultimately a byproduct of anxiety.

Additionally, this past summer Lexi was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism — a common disease of older cats in which a benign tumor forms on the thyroid gland.  This tumor secrets excess thyroid hormone and can cause symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, behavioral changes, and a voracious appetite.

Aside from her medical concerns, Lexi is an incredibly affectionate, easy-going and gentle lap cat, but needed to find her perfect match.

As with any animal in the care of ARL, she underwent a thorough veterinary exam and diagnostics revealed the hyperthyroidism, which she is currently taking medication for. Additionally, through close observation, staff at ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center realized that Lexi’s house-soiling was likely due to stress and anxiety.

Lexi began a regimen of anti-anxiety medication, and with her medical and behavioral issues in check, she was ready to find her new home.

With Lexi’s loveable personality, it didn’t take long to find her the perfect forever home, and she is thriving in her new environment!

Double Your Impact for Animals in Need

The COVID-19 pandemic has created so much uncertainty and strained our limited resources—animals like Lexi need you now more than they have before.

Extraordinary need calls for extraordinary measures, so our Board, past Board members, Leadership Council, and President & CEO will MATCH gifts received now through midnight on 12/1, up to $155,000!

This is your chance to DOUBLE your impact for an animal in need and give them hope, comfort, and stability during a tumultuous time.


ARL Law Enforcement Seeking Public’s Help Identifying Stray Dog

Senior dog possibly abandoned at Winchendon, MA recreation area

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is caring for a stray senior dog found in Winchendon, MA, and while the dog is on the mend from a number of ailments, ARL Law Enforcement is asking the public for any information about where the dog may have come from.

The 10-year-old Norfolk Terrier was discovered outside the Lake Dennison Recreation Area along route 202 in Winchendon on November 5, at approximately 2 p.m.

The person who found the dog, now named Twyla, contacted Winchendon Animal Control and mentioned that the dog was shivering. ARL was then contacted to provide her with shelter, much-needed medical care, and to assist in the now ongoing law enforcement investigation.

ARL Law Enforcement is treating this as a possible animal abandonment case and asks anyone with information to call (617) 426-9170 x110, or email cruelty@arlboston.org.

A thorough veterinary exam at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center has revealed a number of medical issues for Twyla. Skin infections has led to significant fur loss, she also suffered from ear infections. Additionally, she had overgrown nails, dental disease and was underweight as well as dehydrated. ARL continues to treat Twyla for the aforementioned conditions.

Twyla is expected to have full recovery from her medical issues, and given that November is National Adopt a Senior Pet month, in the near future ARL hopes to find this senior dog a loving home in time for the holidays.

Due to her ongoing medical treatment and ongoing law enforcement investigation, Twyla is not yet available for adoption.

Double Your Impact for Animals in Need

The COVID-19 pandemic has created so much uncertainty and strained our limited resources—animals like Twyla need you now more than they have before.

Extraordinary need calls for extraordinary measures, so our Board, past Board members, Leadership Council, and President & CEO will MATCH gifts received now through midnight on 12/1, up to $155,000!

This is your chance to DOUBLE your impact for an animal in need and give them hope, comfort, and stability during a tumultuous time.


Esplanade Resident Duck to Find Permanent Home 

ARL Partners with Esplanade Association to Rescue “Essie”

This past week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department worked in collaboration with the Esplanade Association (EA), a nonprofit organization that works to enhance, revitalize, maintain and program the Charles River Esplanade, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), to rescue a white wayward duck on the Esplanade.

This duck who many call “Essie” (short for Esplanade) has become beloved for its heartwarming story of being ‘adopted’ by a family of Canada geese on the Esplanade.

The Esplanade Association’s Horticulture staff first noticed Essie as a young duckling in June, following around several goslings. They continued to check up on Essie throughout the summer.

Essie’s presence was embraced not only by these geese, but by all the Esplanade’s visitors who saw Essie frequently along the lagoons.

However, as summer turned to fall, temperatures dipped and the time for geese to migrate got closer, Essie’s safety and future needed to be taken into consideration.

Because it is unknown whether Essie would be able to survive the winter on their own, the Esplanade Association reached out to ARL to rescue and once again place the domesticated duck into a new home.

“Following Essie’s journey throughout the summer was very special to our organization and many Esplanade visitors,” said Esplanade Association Executive Director Michael Nichols. “Although we will miss seeing Essie on the Esplanade, we are grateful to the ARL for safely rescuing the duck and finding a long-term home where Essie’s health and safety can be ensured.”

As with any attempt to wrangle an animal, it was important to approach Essie slowly. Using bread as a lure, Essie was coaxed to slowly approach ARL’s Field Services agents, and the agents were able to corral the duck without using nets, a testament to Essie’s temperament.

The operation lasted less than 30 minutes, and then Essie was transported first to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center and then to ARL’s Brewster location.

Ready to Find a Forever Home

**Update 11/16/2020: Essie has been adopted!**

While Essie has settled in quickly at ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, she is now ready to find her forever home!

If you are interested in meeting Essie and believe a duck may be a perfect fit for you and your family, contact ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center at (617) 426-9170 x305. ARL staff will be happy to conduct an adoption interview via phone and arrange a meeting, if both parties think it’s a good match.

Please note:

  • With the exception of lower-risk states, we are unable to conduct out-of-state adoptions at this time.
  • The public will not be permitted in the shelter or lobby waiting areas without an appointment and will be asked to limit the number of visitors.
  • Everyone must wear a protective face covering or mask that covers both the nose and mouth while at ARL facilities by order of the State of Massachusetts.
    • Please alert our staff if you need to request accommodation due to a medical condition by calling: (617) 426 – 9170 and dialing the appropriate extension: Boston press “0”, Dedham x605, or Brewster x305;
  • For more information on these safety requirements, visit Mass.gov.

At this time, we are collecting towels, toys and small bedding for use in our Animal Care & Adoption Centers, but are unable to accept large items such as food or crates. To donate towels, toys and small bedding, please leave them outside Boston or Brewster’s front doors between 9AM – 12PM only; or the donation bin outside of the Dedham Animal Care & Adoption Center anytime. You can still send much needed animal supplies through Amazon shelter wish lists for BostonDedham, and Brewster.