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Category: Boston
Advocacy 101: Understanding Too Hot for Spot®

For many, August is a time to relax and take in summer.

Similarly, August is usually a quiet time in the legislature. It’s hot, elections are coming up, and formal business is usually on hold.

While August is a laid back time for people, August is a dangerous time for pets. Summer, even in New England, brings hot days and the risks that come with them.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Too Hot for Spot® Campaign annually encourages people to think before taking their pets out on the road with them. A minute to a store can quickly turn into 15 or 20 minutes. On an 80 degree day, a car can reach 120 degrees in minutes. For an animal, this can mean injury or even death.

A bill becomes a law

In the summer of 2016, Massachusetts became one of a limited number of states allowing private individuals to rescue animals from cars when their health is threatened by extreme temperatures.

Passage of this law was not easy, and required determination on the part of legislators, advocates, and the public.

The bill that would eventually become law was actually originally sent to study.

This is often the end of a bill’s consideration in the legislature. Fortunately, this was not the case here.

The bill was removed from study, and sent to the Senate where it passed 39-0. But it was the end of June, and with only a month left in the session, it was up against the clock.

The House saw this bill as a crucial effort to save animals lives, and took the unusual step of passing the bill in August.

After July 31 of even numbered years, any legislator can object to a bill, killing it. However, there was no controversy here, and the bill was passed and signed into law by the Governor in August of 2016.

This law is most known for its authorizing of civilians freeing animals in danger from vehicles. This is only part of the law.

The law, called “An Act preventing animal suffering and death” also limited the amount of time and the conditions in which dogs may be left outside. Prior to this change, dogs could be left outside for up to 24 hours, regardless of weather conditions.

What does the law really say?

View the full text of Ch. 140, Sec. 174F here.

The prohibition on leaving an animal in a car is clear:

“A person shall not confine an animal in a motor vehicle in a manner that could reasonably be expected to threaten the health of the animal due to exposure to extreme heat or cold.”

If you see an animal in a car, you must first try and locate the owner. If you can’t find the owner, call your law enforcement or your local animal control. They will try and find the owner as well, and will enter the vehicle if need be.

“After making reasonable efforts to locate a motor vehicle’s owner, an animal control officer…, law enforcement officer or fire fighter may enter a motor vehicle by any reasonable means to protect the health and safety of an animal”

What if you can’t find the owner and help isn’t arriving in time?

“After making reasonable efforts to locate a motor vehicle’s owner,  a person other than an animal control officer, law enforcement officer or fire fighter shall not enter a motor vehicle to remove an animal to protect the health and safety of that animal in immediate danger unless the person:

You have to notify law enforcement or 911.

  • notifies law enforcement or calls 911 before entering the vehicle;

If the door is unlocked, you can open the door. If the door is not unlocked, you need to be reasonable. This is not an excuse to damage someone’s car; you must only use as much force as is necessary to enter the vehicle and remove the animal.

  • determines that the motor vehicle is locked or there is no other reasonable means for exit and uses not more force than reasonably necessary to enter the motor vehicle and remove the animal;

You have to actually and reasonably think that the animal is in imminent danger in the vehicle. If you see an animal in distress and you truly believe that you have to enter the vehicle to save the animal, you may do so.

  • has a good faith and reasonable belief, based upon known circumstances, that entry into the vehicle is reasonably necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal; and

You must stay with the animal until law enforcement or another first responder arrives.

  • remains with the animal in a safe location in reasonable proximity to the vehicle until law enforcement or another first responder arrives.

This is the part of the law that allows you to break a window to save an animals life. You must follow every step. Not calling law enforcement, causing more damage than is necessary to remove the animal, or leaving the animal is likely to result in you being held responsible for the damage to the vehicle. Additionally, there must really be an animal in distress.

“A person who removes an animal from a motor vehicle pursuant to subsection (e) shall be immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal.”

The law empowers individuals to save animals in distress from hot cars. ARL continues to advocate for people to think about what their trip entails before they bring their furry friends along—and never leave an animal unattended in a car!


Stray Kitten Needs Amputation, Now Available for Adoption

Athol Animal Control Reaches Out to ARL for Assistance

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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Legislating in the Time of COVID-19

All of our lives have been changed drastically by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Massachusetts Legislature is no different.

What is usually a flurry of activity in April, May, June, and July, the legislature saw a very different pace this year.

A series of interim budgets replaced the usual days-long debate in the House and Senate in April and May. For the first time in its history, members used video conferencing software to hold hearings and were able to call into legislative sessions to vote and debate.

The State House building itself, usually bustling with legislators, staff, press, school groups, tourists, and advocates, sat dormant except for a limited number of legislators and staff.

Lobby days, including ARL’s event geared towards animal protection legislation, were first postponed then ultimately canceled, and advocates turned to phone and email to connect with legislators.

In another historic measure, last week, the Massachusetts Legislature took the unprecedented step of suspending the rule requiring formal session end on July 31 on the second year of the session. While unprecedented, it was all but inevitable as the scope and reality of economic and health impacts became clear.

The formal legislative session will now run through the end of the year.

There are several bills in conference, as small groups of legislators from the House and the Senate try and come to final agreement. The legislature still used the last few days of July to take up and pass a number of bills, but the timeline is extended through the fall.

What does this mean for ARL’s bills?

The legislature will still be able to do business and are likely to debate a full budget this fall. In the meantime, there is a focus on those issues that are directly related to COVID-19.

We are constantly monitoring the legislature, so stay tuned to our social media to learn about any updates. View ARL’s Legislative Agenda.


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!


Former Injured Stray Ready to Find Forever Home

Nikki suffered from embedded collar injury

**Update 7/27/20: Nikki has been adopted!**

For Nikki, since being found as a part of a stray cat colony, the last five months have been a long, arduous journey.

When she was found, Nikki was suffering from wounds caused by an embedded collar, a not uncommon injury where a cat tries to remove a collar and it typically gets caught around the animal’s armpit.

Nikki receives treatment for injuries caused by an embedded collar.

If not treated immediately the collar can dig into the skin, causing severe irritation and a high risk of infection. If Nikki had not been rescued, her injuries may very well have been fatal.

After being rescued from the streets, Nikki was brought to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center for medical treatment.

The one-year-old cat’s injuries from the embedded collar were extensive, and surgery was needed to remove the collar and to stitch up the open wound. From there Nikki began the slow process of recovery.

The next five months for Nikki consisted of antibiotics, a number of rounds of wound debridement, rebandaging, and constant monitoring.

But despite her injuries and slow recovery, Nikki has shown all who have come into contact with her that she has nothing but love to give, and after months of medical treatment, she is now ready to find her forever home.

Interested in Adoption?

While Nikki’s wounds have healed nicely, her new family will need to continue her wound treatment and should establish a plan with her new veterinarian.

If you are interested in meeting Nikki and believe she may be a perfect fit for you and your family, contact ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center at (617) 426-9170 x604. 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 Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York or New Jersey, 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.

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.