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Category: Boston Veterinary Care
Stray Kitten Needs Amputation, Now Available for Adoption

Athol Animal Control Reaches Out to ARL for Assistance

**Update 8/17/2020: Alfie has been adopted!**

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) prides itself on being a resource for municipalities throughout Massachusetts who may need assistance for any number of reasons – in the instance of Alfie, a 5-month-old kitten, his reason was medical.

Athol Animal Control contacted ARL late last week when Alfie was found as a stray. Alfie had suffered a hind limb fracture, and needed immediate medical attention.

Following amputation surgery, Alfie is ready to find his forever home!

Alfie was brought to an emergency facility in Deerfield, MA, and from there was transferred to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center for further care and treatment.

The fracture was severe, and unfortunately in order to save the kitten’s life, the leg needed to be amputated.

ARL’s shelter medicine staff performed the surgery on Alfie, and he has bounced back very quickly!

Ready to Find a Home

The vast majority of cats who need a limb removed live a healthy, happy and normal life and are not impacted by the loss of the appendage — Alfie certainly falls into this category and is now ready to find his forever home!

Your Support Helps Animals Like Alfie

A gift to ARL ensures that when another animal group or municipality reaches out for assistance, ARL is ready to respond.

Alfie is just one of the thousands of animals ARL helps annually, and this work cannot be done without your support – thank you for being a Champion for Animals!

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Press Release: ARL, MDAR, MVMA Reminds Public to Properly Dispose PPE

ARL caring for dog who ate paper masks and needed life-saving surgery

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is reminding the public to properly dispose of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) after a dog recently needed emergency surgery to remove the paper masks he had ingested.

PPE has become a way of life for all of us, however if not properly disposed of, masks, gloves, and other PPE may become life-threatening hazards, not only to domestic animals but to wildlife as well.

ARL joins the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Massachusetts Veterinary Medicine Association (MVMA), MVMA Charities, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and the Dracut Police Department  in providing this important public awareness message.

Why is improperly discarded PPE so dangerous?

Masks can smell like food, and dogs or wildlife may think they’re a treat. These items can cause massive stomach upset or intestinal blockages, and the metal nose wire in masks may cause a variety of health issues, including stomach and esophageal tears, as well as sepsis, which may prove fatal if not treated.

Signs your dog may have ingested a foreign body include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal tenderness or pain
  • decreased appetite (know as anorexia)
  • straining to defecate or producing small amounts of feces
  • lethargy
  • changes in behavior such as biting or growling when picked up or handled around the abdomen

When finished with a piece of PPE, it should always be disposed of in a covered waste container.

We are all in this together, and it’s up to all of us to protect our pets and wildlife and to keep Massachusetts beautiful!


ARL Position Statements: Our Guiding Documents

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) drafts position statements to inform the public of our principles. These position statements include a variety of animal welfare issues, and are regularly evaluated.

ARL’s position statements can be found here.

This week, we spotlight ARL’s position statement on Declawing.

Declawing is not a simple nail trim, it is an amputation of part of a cat’s toe. While many who seek out declawing do so because of undesired scratching, cats who are declawed often see more behavioral problems due to pain and inability to exercise a natural instinct to scratch.

A year ago this week, New York made history by being the first state in the country to prohibit the procedure outside of limited exceptions.

Here in Massachusetts, a bill to prohibit declawing, filed by Senator Mark Montigny, emerged from the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure with a favorable report earlier this year.

ARL testified in favor of the bill at the hearing last July, coincidentally on the same day that New York signed their ban into law.

The hearing was an example of how powerful advocacy can be, with dozens of advocates and grassroots organizations testifying in support of the legislation.

ARL supports a ban on declawing, outside of when medically necessary for the animal’s health, because it puts the animal’s health first.

Understanding about this elective practice is spreading.

Earlier this year, VCA Animal Hospitals, Banfield Pet Hospitals, and BluePearl Pet Hospitals updated their policies to end elective declaw procedures, only doing so to treat pain or illness of the animal. With over 2000 locations in the US, this change in policy will have a monumental effect on elective declaws across the country.


Updated: ARL Caring for 80 Cats from Edgartown Law Enforcement Case

Breeder facing animal cruelty charges

This past week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department, along with Edgartown (Martha’s Vineyard) Police and Animal Control and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) personnel, executed a search warrant at an Edgartown home and removed 65 cats from the property.

The cats were transferred to ARL’s care for veterinary care and will likely need weeks of treatment.

Update: Two litters of kittens have been born and ARL is now caring for approximately 80 cats and kittens.

The cat breeder, Jennifer Winsper, 48, will be charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty (MGL.272/77/B: Animal Cruelty by a Custodian).

ARL Law Enforcement inspected the property in 2019 following complaints of sick cats being sold off island. A similar complaint was lodged with Edgartown Animal Control in late June 2020. Edgartown Animal Control Officer Betsy Buck and MDAR personnel inspected the property following the complaint and determined the conditions were detrimental and dangerous for the animals.

ARL Law Enforcement sought and was then granted a search warrant for the property to take custody of the cats.

With the help of Edgartown Police and Animal Control and MDAR, 65 cats were safely removed from the property. Conditions inside the building where the cats were being kept had poor air quality, an overwhelming odor of animal waste, and was incredibly hot.

“We are very appreciative of the strong partnership we have with the Animal Rescue League of Boston,” said Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee. “Their resources and expertise are invaluable to a small police department, especially one out here on Martha’s Vineyard, in cases like these.”

ARL wishes to thank Edgartown Police and Animal Control and MDAR for their assistance and resolve in rescuing these animals from difficult circumstances.

How You Can Help

An influx of this many animals causes a strain on ARL’s resources, and an emergency gift today can support:

  • Veterinary care and rehabilitation for the sudden influx of animals that have suffered
  • On-going investigations of cruelty to pursue justice for animals
  • Emergency response when crisis strikes and animals are in dire need

Thank you for supporting ARL’s ongoing efforts to combat animals suffering cruelty, neglect and abuse.

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    How a bill becomes a law, case study: PAWS I

    Did you know… the Massachusetts Legislature is one of few in the country that meets full-time. They have two year-long sessions, with elections every two years.

    In January of odd years, the Legislature convenes to consider bills and resolutions, conduct oversight, and make sure that state programs are funded through annual and supplemental budgets. Bills filed in January are considered through the rest of the two years, and must be re-introduced in future years (learn more about how a bill becomes a law here).

    Most bills are filed before the bill filing deadline, which is usually towards the end of January at the beginning of the session. However, bills can be filed at any time. Often, bills filed after the bill filing deadline are prompted by events that show flaws in the legal system.

    All bills, regardless of when they are filed, expire at the end of the session. While this technically is in early January, the legislature generally stops considering controversial matters after July 31 of the second year of the session.

    Let’s look at PAWS I as an example of the steps required for a bill to become law in Massachusetts:

    PAWS I Filing

    PAWS I was filed after the shocking “Puppy Doe” cruelty case was investigated by ARL law enforcement in 2013. Around the country and even the world, people were horrified at the abuse this dog suffered. Often, cases like these highlight the weaknesses in our laws. Fortunately, the legislature sprang into action.

    In October of 2013, ten months into the 188th session, Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) filed an aggressive bill to strengthen our laws and help prevent such cruelty from happening again. While this may seem early, the many deadlines of the legislature mean this was a relatively late file.

    This shortened clock put this incredibly important legislation at a disadvantage from the beginning. The bill was sent to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which is responsible for conducting hearings for bills that would create or update crimes and penalties.

    PAWS I Committee

    The Joint Committee on the Judiciary Branch sees one of the largest volume of bills referred to it.

    Committees must dispense with bills by a certain point in the session.[1]  However, in Massachusetts, each bill has the opportunity for public comment at hearing to address concerns with legislation, so it is not uncommon for bills to be worked on by the committee for a time after the hearing.

    This is sometimes extended for bills filed later in the session, as they don’t have as much time to be considered. PAWS I was up against the clock as the committee hearing happened in mid-April, after the deadline to move bills out of committee.

    In early July, PAWS I emerged favorably from the Judiciary Committee.  Unfortunately, not all bills favorably reported from committee become law, so there were several more steps to strengthen animal cruelty laws.

    PAWS I Debate

    July of even years marks the final month of the legislative session. While the legislature continues to work past July, they meet informally and will not take up controversial matters that require a roll call vote[2].  When the legislature meets informally, any one legislator can object to a bill, killing it.

    On July 21, the PAWS I bill was amended by House Ways and Means and sent to House Steering, Policy and Scheduling, which sent the bill to the entire House for debate.  On July 30, with just 48 hours left in the formal session, the bill was put up for a Third Reading and debated by the House.

    For a bill to become a law, identical language must be agreed to by both the House and the Senate, and it must be signed by the Governor. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill, veto the bill, or do nothing.

    If the bill is vetoed by the Governor, 2/3 of the legislature can override the veto, to make the bill law.  However, this can only happen by a roll call, so it must be sent to the Governor more than 10 days before the end of July.

    On July 31, the Senate debated the PAWS I bill. There were some changes made from the House version. This meant that the bill would have to be reconciled in order to move forward. The end of the session was looming.

    PAWS I – The Final Passage

    Although the end of July marks defeat for most bills, when there is consensus in the legislature to move bills forward, they are able to continue.

    On August 11, the Senate conceded to the House language, making the language identical in both branches.  With this progress, on August 14, the House and Senate took the final votes on the legislation, putting it on the Governor’s desk, where PAWS I was signed less than a week later on August 20.

    Bills moving through the legislature have countless hurdles, but often their greatest opposition is time. Fortunately, because of a strong commitment in the legislature to strengthen the Commonwealth’s animal cruelty laws, animals did not have to wait for these crucial provisions to be signed into law.

    However, partially due to this shortened time frame, there were things that the legislature wanted to further consider.  To accomplish this, they created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force, of which ARL was a member.

    This task force would issue a report that would become the basis for what would become PAWS II which became law in 2018.

    PAWS I Timeline

    10/7/2013           Senate   Filed

    10/16/2013         Senate   Referred to the committee on Rules of the two branches, acting concurrently

    10/31/2013         Senate   Rules suspended

    10/31/2013         Senate   Referred to the committee on Judiciary

    11/6/2013           House    House concurred

    3/20/2014           House    Reporting date extended to Monday June 30, 2014, pending concurrence

    4/3/2014             Senate   Senate concurred

    4/17/2014           Joint      Hearing scheduled for 04/24/2014 from 01:30 PM-05:00 PM in A-2

    7/7/2014             House    Accompanied a new draft, see H4244

    7/7/2014             House    Reported from the committee on the Judiciary

    7/7/2014             House    New draft of S767, S807, S1914 and H1182

    7/7/2014             House    Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on House Ways and Means

    7/21/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment by substitution of a bill with the same title, see H4328

    7/21/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass and referred to the committee on House Steering, Policy and Scheduling with the amendment pending

    7/22/2014           House    Committee reported that the matter be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting for a second reading with the amendment pending

    7/22/2014           House    Rules suspended

    7/22/2014           House    Read second, amended (as recommended by the committee on House Ways and Means)

    7/22/2014           House    New draft substituted, see H4328

    7/21/2014           House    Reported from the committee on House Ways and Means

    7/21/2014           House    New draft of H4244

    7/22/2014           House    Substituted for H4244

    7/22/2014           House    Ordered to a third reading

    7/30/2014           House    Read third

    7/30/2014           House    Amendment 1 adopted

    7/30/2014           House    Amendment 2 adopted

    7/30/2014           House    Passed to be engrossed

    7/31/2014           Senate   Read

    7/31/2014           Senate   Rules suspended

    7/31/2014           Senate   Read second

    7/31/2014           Senate   New draft substituted, see S2345

    7/31/2014           Senate   Recommended new draft (Tarr, et al) for H4328

    7/31/2014           Senate   Substituted as a new draft for H4328

    7/31/2014           Senate   Ordered to a third reading

    7/31/2014           Senate   Read third

    7/31/2014           Senate   Passed to be engrossed – Roll Call #469 [YEAS 40 – NAYS 0]

    7/31/2014           House    Read; and referred to the House committee on Ways and Means

    7/31/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment, striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in place thereof the text of an amendment, H4388

    7/31/2014           House    Referred to the House committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling with the amendment pending

    7/31/2014           House    Committee reported that the matter be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting with the amendment pending

    7/31/2014           House    Rules suspended

    7/31/2014           House    Read second

    7/31/2014           House    Amendment adopted, as recommended by the committee on House Ways and Means, see H4388

    7/31/2014           House    Ordered to a third reading

    7/31/2014           House    Rules suspended

    7/31/2014           House    Read third and passed to be engrossed

    8/11/2014           Senate   Rules suspended

    8/11/2014           Senate   Senate concurred in the House amendment

    8/14/2014           House    Enacted

    8/14/2014           Senate   Enacted and laid before the Governor

    8/20/2014           Senate   Signed by the Governor, Chapter 293 of the Acts of 2014

    [1] This is known as “Joint Rule 10 Day”. Why? The rule that requires the bill be moved by that date is Joint Rule #10. It serves as a break in the session, where bills generally must get a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

    [2] A “roll call vote” is a vote that consists of each legislator voting yes, no, or abstaining. Roll call votes are required for some bills.


    Summer Safety: Protect Your Dog’s Paws!

    For the past seven years the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Too Hot for Spot® safety campaign has warned pet owners of the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot vehicle.

    But with longer days and warm temperatures, outdoor pets face additional dangers – hot surfaces which can cause severe burns to your pet’s paws.

    Asphalt, concrete, or brick surfaces i.e. parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, walkways, bike trails etc… absorb the heat from the sun and surface temperatures can exceed 145 degrees!

    Other surfaces include wood, metal, artificial grass, running track material, and beach sand.

    Burns to the paws are incredibly painful, and can really limit your dog’s mobility, especially if all four paws are affected.

    We can’t keep our pets in a bubble, but there are measures you can take to ensure your pet is safe while outdoors this summer.

    Air temp vs. asphalt temp

    1. The Hand Test. The surest way to determine if a surface is to place your hand on it for 7 seconds. It’s simple, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet!
    2. Plan Outdoor Time. Always a good idea during the warm weather months anyways, but you should try and limit your dog’s exercise time to early morning or early evening when it’s coolest. Keep in mind that these hot surfaces that absorb heat stay hot long after the sun sets.
    3. Stay on the Grass. Grass typically stays cooler than artificial surfaces.
    4. Protection Gear. Booties, Socks, Paw Wax Balm, these products can add a layer of protection for your dog’s paws. Dogs do sweat through their paws so it’s important to limit the amount of time they wear protective booties. Keep in mind it will take some time for your dog to get used to having any of these on his feet.

    You also want to remember that your dog’s paws may be more susceptible to burns after getting wet and signs of burns to look for include:

    • Limping
    • Refusing to walk
    • Red or pink color change in paw pads
    • Licking or chewing at the feet
    • Blisters

    Burns should be treated quickly, and if you discover that your pet has suffered burns on their paws, they should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.


    Press Release: Rescued Mini Donkeys Seek New Home

    Bonded pair seized from hoarding-type situation

    A pair of mini donkeys who have come from previously traumatic situation were recently transferred from foster care to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, and are now searching for a new home.

    The donkeys, Brownie and Marshmallow, were seized from a hoarding-type situation in Plymouth County in late 2019 and were two of approximately 50 animals taken from the unsanitary conditions on the property.

    The former owner is facing animal cruelty charges, and the property has since been condemned.

    Twenty-year-old Brownie, and 13-year-old Marshmallow are neutered males, and because of their bond, ARL is seeking to adopt the donkeys as a pair.

    While initially shy and despite the terrible conditions they were previously living in, they are extremely friendly, comfortable around people of all ages, including children, and have outgoing personalities.

    With many livestock owners on Cape Cod, ARL is hopeful that Brownie and Marshmallow will find the type of loving home they deserve quickly, and reminds the public that all animal adoptions are currently by appointment only.

    Interested parties should call (617) 426-9170 x305 to schedule an appointment, and will also be required to show a photo of the enclosure the donkeys would be living in to ensure it’s appropriate.


    Fireworks Can Increase Our Pet’s Anxiety

    Fireworks and July 4th go hand-in-hand, however with town and cities across Massachusetts cancelling annual fireworks displays, many have begun shooting off fireworks in their backyards and neighborhoods.

    Calls to authorities regarding fireworks in Boston are up a reported 2,300 percent, and surrounding states where the sale of fireworks are legal are reporting a tremendous surge in sales.

    First, fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, and second, the sudden explosions can be detrimental and dangerous for our pets.

    To see local media coverage of this story by WCVB reporter/anchor Doug Meehan click here!

    To see local media coverage of this story by WHDH reporter John Cuoco click here!

    Many dogs are afraid during a thunderstorm, and while thunderstorms and fireworks can be loud, there’s a huge difference between the two.

    “When storms happen, the barometric pressure will tell them that it’s coming; not with fireworks and it’s so detrimental,” says Laney Nee, ARL’s Shelter Behavior and Enrichment Manager.

    Fireworks can cause behavioral issues that may last for a long time, and signs to watch out for include:

    • Shaking
    • Drooling
    • Howling or barking
    • Pacing
    • Trying to find a place to hide
    • Loss of bladder or bowel control

    “Dogs only communicate with their voices, their mouths, their paws and their body language and when we interact with them (while they’re exhibiting signs of fear) there is a possibility they may redirect that fear into an aggressive behavior,” Nee said.

    Additionally, the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks may also cause a dog to run off. During this time of year, shelters around the national typically see an increase in lost dog reports.

    How to Help

    We of course want to keep our pets safe.

    The first and easiest step to take is to make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags, and if they are microchipped, to be sure that the contact information is current and correct; as a precaution just in case they become lost.

    You can also set them up in a room with some of their favorite toys, turn on some soft music, a television, or a white noise machine to help drown out the noises caused by fireworks.

    If you are concerned about the bright lights, you can also move your pet into a room with no windows, however you may need to prepare for the chance they may run when the door is opened.

    There are also medications to help reduce stress and anxiety, however this is something that needs to be discussed with your veterinarian to determine which, if any, medication would be appropriate for your pet.

    ARL FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

    ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a FREE service, and can answer basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, or if you are looking for ways to stave off your pet’s boredom.

    If you have questions, please call the Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or via email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.


    Cyanobacteria Blooms Discovered in Sections of Charles River

    Algae dangerous to animals and humans

    This week, the Charles River Watershed Association released a public health warning after discovering blooms of cyanobacteria in several sites along the Charles River, from the Mass. Ave. Bridge to the Museum of Science.

    According to the advisory, swimmers and boaters should avoid contact with the water, and because the blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs, our canine friends should not be swimming in, or drinking this water as well.

    While the formation of blooms typically happens later in the summer, the watershed association acknowledges that the immense heat and amount of sunlight we’ve seen recently, combined with the nutrient pollution already existing in the Charles created a scenario for early blooms of cyanobacteria.

    While the discovery has been made in the Charles River, the bacteria thrive in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water ecosystems.

    Dangerous for Dogs

    Exposure and ingestion of cyanobacteria can be life-threatening for dogs.

    Onset of symptoms can happen within 30 minutes, or even 24 hours later.

    Signs to look for include:

    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Lethargy
    • Depression
    • Loss of appetite
    • Pale mucous membranes
    • Jaundice
    • Weakness
    • Stumbling
    • Muscle tremors
    • Rigidity
    • Excess salivation
    • Algae in vomit or stool
    • Blood in urine
    • Foaming at the mouth
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Respiratory paralysis
    • Convulsion
    • Seizures

    If your dog exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms after exposure to blue-green algae, seek veterinary help immediately.


    Advocacy 101: Breaking Down the Basics

    Advocacy in its simplest form, is to lend support towards a cause or proposal.

    For the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), advocacy is at the core of our mission.

    Since its founding in 1899, ARL has advocated for animals and people, understanding the proven link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to people.

    Some of the first advocacy efforts by ARL and founder Anna Harris Smith were related to improving conditions for carriage horses in the city after witnessing countless acts of mistreatment.

    Advocacy in Practice

    Advocacy looks different for every person who decides to get involved. We can advocate for ourselves, for others, and for causes we care about. Advocacy goals can be to change laws, to change regulations, to change practices, and to change minds.

    One of the most common ways of advocating is contacting your elected officials. Wherever you live, you are represented by many layers and levels of government. This includes city or town level, county level, state level, and federal level. There are a lot of people who represent and work for you, who have different abilities to change laws and regulations.

    On the surface, advocacy may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

    You can help advocate for animals in need!

    ARL’s Advocacy Department goes through the thousands of bills filed each year and tracks them to make sure that animals have a voice on Beacon Hill and beyond. From time to time, we ask you to lend your voice to help animals. When contacting your elected officials, here are a few tips:

    1. You don’t have to be an expert! A lot of people are worried that they will be asked questions they don’t know the answers to, that their effort will be met with hostility, or that their voice won’t matter. Elected officials rely on their constituents[1] to tell them what issues matter to them, and they expect that sometimes there will be disagreement. The most important question you should be able to answer is why the bill matters to you.
    1. Familiarize yourself with the background before you call or email. Knowing background information will help you talk about why you’re passionate about a bill. Maybe you volunteer in our Animal Care & Adoption Centers and you’ve worked with animals who have been the subject of cruelty cases, maybe you adopted an animal who was abused, maybe you live in a community that saw a large cruelty case, or maybe this is just something you really care about. ARL frequently updates its legislative agenda and provides a synopsis and background information for each piece of proposed legislation.
    1. Use the method of contact that makes you feel most comfortable. Email is often the easiest format because it allows you to take your time writing and it doesn’t have the pressure of talking to someone on the phone. Every elected official is different, but personalized information is always best. If you write an email, make sure to include your name, address, and contact information. If you call, they will likely ask for this information. Most elected officials keep a database of people who contact their office so they can reach out in the future. Keep in mind that you may receive a response from staff; staff is heavily involved in this work and it does not mean the elected official is ignoring you!
    1. Things often move slowly. Don’t be disheartened because you called to support a bill and it didn’t pass. The Massachusetts Legislature considers bills on a two year session, and around 5,000 bills are filed to be considered during these two years. There are bills filed on education, transportation, healthcare, civil rights, animal welfare, and many other topics. Bills move through multiple stages to get passed, and the legislature is busier certain times of year than others. Sustained advocacy is the most successful advocacy, and it’s never too early or too late to speak out! Click here to see how a bill becomes law in Massachusetts.

    Advocacy welcomes all ages and abilities, and along with contacting your elected officials, you can advocate by joining groups that speak out, engaging in education, and participating in public calls to action.

    Championing a piece of legislation that ultimately becomes law is a tremendously rewarding experience, and the more who become involved, the better the chances of ushering in change to protect animals throughout the Commonwealth.

    Learn more about the bills ARL is supporting this session.

    [1] What’s a constituent? Probably you! “Constituent” is a brief way of saying “people who live in an elected official’s district”.