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Category: Boston
Committee Hearings Continue on Beacon Hill

This past week the Joint Committees on the Judiciary and Financial Services both convened to hear testimony on more than 40 bills, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was present for both sessions to advocate on behalf of animals throughout the Commonwealth.

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary heard testimony regarding S. 989: An Act Enhancing the Issuance of Citations for Cruel Conditions for Animals, a piece of legislation that ARL is actively supporting.

ARL President Mary Nee addresses the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

This bill would allow law enforcement to issue citations for animals kept in “cruel conditions” which would include exposure to excessive waste, non-potable water, noxious odors that post a health risk to animals or people, among others.

Right now, the only tool law enforcement has to address animal cruelty is a felony cruelty charge. If passed, this bill would provide an additional resource to address cruelty and would act as a deterrent, rather than a form of punishment.

The Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony from ARL regarding three bills – S. 595/H. 1037: An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored Upon the Insured Property.

Simply put, this bill would prohibit homeowners or renters insurance from refusing to issue or renew, cancel or charge an increased rate on a specific breed(s) of dog on the property.

The Committee also heard testimony on H. 1038: An Act to Prohibit Housing Discrimination Against Responsible Dog Owners.

This bill would prohibit condo associations from banning certain types of dogs based on breed/weight/size. Further it would prohibit similar bans on any lease/rental agreements.

Additionally, it would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to establish and maintain a program of pet ownership for those residing in state-aided public housing.

ARL’s testimony highlighted that breed specific legislation and insurance prohibitions are not supported by science – breed bias are often assumptions based on physical characteristics.

Breed has no bearing on individual animal behavior – the most accurate predictor of animal behavior is an individual assessment of the animal, including a check into the pet’s background with training, behavior and social abilities.

ARL believes that like people, dogs are individuals no matter what breed they happen to be, and hopes this important piece of legislation moves favorably out of committee.

Be an Advocate for Animals

With more than 90 animal-related bills filed for this legislative session, this hearing was critical to help move these important animal protection bills forward in the legislative process.

But we can’t do it alone. Your elected officials work for you, so please take a look at ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda, and contact your representatives to show your support for improving laws to protect animals in Massachusetts.


ARL Recognized by Boston City Council

On Wednesday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the organization’s 120th anniversary and brief Boston City Councilors about the direct impact ARL is having on their respective districts.

For an hour before the council’s scheduled session, councilors and staff received an overview of ARL by watching a special 120th anniversary video, followed by a presentation with ARL President Mary Nee.

The presentation informed those in the audience about ARL’s programs, especially those that bring services directly to neighborhoods including Field Services and ARL’s Pet Wellness Clinics.

For more than a century ARL has provided service in the Metro Boston region, and continues to be a vital resource for the region.

When the council session was brought to order, City Council President Andrea Campbell again recognized ARL, and allowed Nee to address the entire council and those in attendance on the on-going work ARL is doing to help animals in need and keeping people and pets together.

ARL would like to thank the entire council, particularly District 4 and City Council President Andrea Campbell, and District 6 councilor Matt O’Malley for their steadfast commitment to helping animals in need.


Press Release: Emaciated Puppy Could Be Facing Extensive Surgery

Puppy lost for a month, surrendered to ARL

Charlotte, an 8-month-old mixed-breed puppy, has experienced a lot in her young life, including surviving on her own for a month. Although she’s now in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), Charlotte is not only fighting to regain her total trust with humans, but is also grossly underweight and facing fracture repair surgery.

Despite being incredibly sweet, Charlotte has a long road ahead of her. ARL is dedicated to doing everything possible to get her healthy and into a forever home, however, the cost of Charlotte’s care is already in the thousands and ARL is asking for the public’s assistance.

Charlotte came to ARL via Belmont’s Animal Control Officer after she had been lost for approximately a month – it’s miraculous she even survived.

She was only 23 pounds upon her arrival, about half of what she should weigh and is still extremely skittish.

X-rays have indicated a fracture in the balled-end of the femur which connects to the hip joint. She will at least need surgery to remove the fractured part of the bone to alleviate the pain and discomfort – but there are risks involved given that she’s a growing puppy and ARL Shelter Medicine staff do not want this issue to be on-going.

Once a medical plan is established and she undergoes surgery, Charlotte will be recovering for approximately two months and will be constantly monitored and rechecked to avoid any complications.

With a clean bill of health, Charlotte will hopefully be in a new home just in time for the holidays.

Banning Roadside Sales

Charlotte was originally transported from a rescue group in Alabama, but her former owner picked her up at a parking lot in Connecticut just over the Massachusetts border – she was lost just 4 hours after being adopted.

State law mandates a 48-hour quarantine for animals brought over the state line (this was completed when Charlotte arrived at ARL) to properly assess their health and wellbeing. These types of parking lot pickups side-step the mandate and if the animal is ill, threaten harm to other animals they may come in contact with.

When you adopt from a reputable organization like ARL, animals are properly quarantined, medically checked, vaccinated and spayed/neutered before they are adopted. This typically is not the case when an animal is purchased during a roadside sale which also includes ads in the paper, Craigslist, illegal breeders, among others.

Roadside sales are a dangerous practice as the person who buys the animal does not have a clear picture of exactly what they’re getting – and should an issue pop up, the adopter has no recourse for reimbursement to cover medical costs.

S.114, H.1774: An Act Protecting the Health and Safety of Puppies and Kittens in Cities and Towns is currently in committee at the Massachusetts State House, and if passed would ban these types of animal sales.

ARL strongly supports this bill, and urges anyone interested in furthering animal protection law in Massachusetts to contact their elected officials to voice support.

Help Charlotte and Others Like Her

ARL Shelter Medicine provides all levels of high-quality care – from wellness exams to complex surgeries. Our goal is to ensure that animals are healthy and happy, and it’s because of the support from caring and compassionate people like you who make this possible. Please consider a donation to ARL today to help Charlotte and other animals like her.

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Update: All Cats Removed from April Hoarding-Type Situation Adopted

When the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department removed 50 cats from a home in the Metro Boston area during Easter weekend, it was immediately clear that many of the animals had a long road ahead of them – given their lack of meaningful interaction with humans.

Aside from a host of medical concerns, the majority of the cats were extremely under-socialized and at times standoffish with staff and volunteers.

However, thanks to an amazing and collective effort by ARL staff and volunteers, over time the walls of mistrust were razed and nearly three months later, the last two cats (Clarence and Moe) have found their forever homes!

Slow and Steady

The socialization process was extraordinarily slow. With many of these animals, volunteers and staff would begin by just talking softly to the cat. From there it would escalate to making eye contact, offering treats, and when a small semblance of trust was established, the cat would sniff the hand and eventually accept pets.

Clarence, an 8-year-old cat, came to ARL obese and in need of medical care and diagnostics. Unlike many of the other cats from this hoarding-type situation, he was friendly right from the start, but was shy and lacked confidence.

Clarence had advanced dental and was already missing 10 teeth. Unfortunately 8 additional teeth needed to be extracted.

Through diagnostic testing, the tough 8-year-old also showed early signs of renal disease.

Moe, a 4-year-old cat, was thin, scared and spent much of his time hiding upon arrival at ARL. Moe weighed just 6 pounds, had urine-stained paws and dirt was embedded around his nose.

The cat needed time to settle in to his new surroundings, and seemed to do best when paired with another cat from his previous situation – in Moe’s case he was paired with Clarence.

The two spent time as office fosters, which offers a more real-life experience and is less stressful than being in a kennel full time.

The pair came out of their shells and didn’t just find a forever home, they found a forever home together!

Extraordinary Measures

Before arriving at ARL, these animals suffered an enormous amount of physical and mental trauma. ARL was able to remove these cats from a difficult situation, provide much needed medical care, and socialize and recondition these animals to become the loving pets they are today!

Hoarding-Type Situations Increasing

The number of hoarding-type incidents involving large numbers of animals is unfortunately on the rise. In 2018, ARL handled 16 of these incidents, which involved 1,024 animals.

With hoarding-type situations, ARL is ready to help both the animals and people involved. If you are aware of such a situation, please contact ARL Law Enforcement or your local Animal Control Officer immediately.


ARL Advocates for Banishment of Retail Sale of Dogs/Cats in Pet Shops

On Monday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) joined fellow animal welfare organizations to address the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on two pieces of legislation that ARL is actively supporting.

The hearing chambers were standing room only, indicating the passion behind these bills.

The bills were part of a lengthy agenda at the Massachusetts State House, and address two important issues: the retail sale of animals at pet shops, and the inhumane practice of declawing.

For WFXT’s coverage of the hearing click here!

S.175 and H.800 – An Act Banning the Retail Sale of Dogs and Cats in Pet Shops aims to cease the operation by pet stores of obtaining animals from “puppy mills” because they allow the cruelty at the mills to remain hidden from consumers.

“Plain and simple, where pet shops acquire their animals are inhumane,” stated Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “Although these breeding facilities are inspected by the USDA, the standards are extremely low and continually allow for this inhumane treatment.”

The legislation does not prevent consumers from acquiring a dog, cat, or rabbit from a responsible breeder or shelter or rescue organization. Further, it does not prohibit pet shops from partnering with shelters or rescues to provide animals in their store.

ARL also made public comment on S.169 – An Act Prohibiting Inhumane Feline Declawing.

This proposed bill would prohibit declawing as an elective procedure, simply for the purposes of convenience or to mitigate property destruction.

Under the proposed bill, declawing would only be allowed for “therapeutic purposes”. These would include addressing an existing or recurring infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition in the claw that jeopardizes the cat’s health as a medical necessity.

Violations of the proposed bill would include fines upward of $2,500 for repeated offenses and the possibility of forfeiture of the animal as well.

ARL believes that declawing a healthy cat is not only inhumane, but may cause the cat a multitude of long-term medical issues.

“We (ARL) are opposed to these needless, elective surgeries which can and do cause unnecessary pain and discomfort that can affect the cat for its entire life,” Dr. Schettino testified.

Get Involved

Government is of course “of the people, by the people, and for the people” and you can have a direct impact on these important bills moving forward in the legislative process.

If you support these measures, contact your elected officials and urge them to further animal protection law in Massachusetts by supporting the proposed bills.

We encourage you to read ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda. See what bills ARL supports and opposes and what you can do to make sure your voice is heard!


Press Release: ARL and Malden Police Investigating Abandoned Kitten Case

Kitten discovered in sealed cardboard box

The Malden Police Department and the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying who may be responsible for dumping a two-month old kitten along a busy street in the city on Wednesday afternoon.

For ARL, this case represents a disturbing trend. This kitten is one of a handful of animals that have discovered abandoned in just the last week alone.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a driver with the MBTA’s The Ride noticed a cardboard box along Hawthorne St. The box had holes punched into the sides, but the top was sealed with packing tape.

Inside the box was a two-month-old female kitten. Despite being discarded in stifling heat and humidity, the kitten did not suffer any heat-related medical issues and appears to be in good overall health.

This is a clear case of animal cruelty and abandonment. The fact that holes were cut into the box shows that this kitten was left on the side of the road intentionally.

Abandoning an animal is never an option. Besides being cruel, it is illegal in Massachusetts and punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you are unable or even unwilling to properly care for an animal, you can contact your local animal control officer or an organization like ARL to ensure that the animal is properly taken care of and rehomed.

This investigation is ongoing, and the kitten, now named Millie, will remain in the care of ARL. There is no timeline on when she may be available to find her forever home.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to contact Malden Animal Control at 781-397-7171 x1302, or ARL Law Enforcement at 617-426-9170.


ARL Partners with ABCD in Pet Wellness Program Expansion

Clinics being held in Dorchester, Roxbury, and soon Mattapan/Hyde Park

On Wednesday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) announced a groundbreaking partnership with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), to bring pet wellness services directly to four Boston communities where they’re needed most.

The organizations hosted a special event at ABCD’s Roxbury location to mark the occasion and included a number of comments from stake holders and clients, as well as a ribbon-cutting.

Click here to see WBZ’s coverage of the event!

ABCD helps Greater Boston’s most vulnerable and at-risk individuals and families transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Every year, the agency serves more than 100,000 individuals, families and the elderly.

The Need to Expand

In 2018, ARL’s 38 Pet Wellness Clinics in Dorchester’s Codman Square were an enormous success, serving 431 pets. The success, combined with the need for veterinary services, supported the fundraising to expand these clinics and in addition to the Dorchester and Roxbury clinics, an additional clinic will soon be added to serve Mattapan and Hyde Park. Clinics are held outside ABCD locations.

During ARL’s pilot program in Codman Square which began in 2017, the organization received direct feedback from the community on what barriers existed concerning pet ownership. Top responses included a lack of affordable care and access to services. ARL’s Pet Wellness Clinics drastically reduces these barriers.

For just $10, pets receive a physical exam; rabies and distemper vaccines; flea treatment and microchip. These services would normally cost upwards of $300 in a traditional veterinary clinic setting.

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston of course cares for animals in need, but also helps the people who love them,” said ARL President Mary Nee. “Cost or accessibility to care should never be a barrier to having a healthy and happy animal in the home and we are thrilled to be partnering with ABCD to bring these vital services where they’re needed most to help eliminate these barriers.”

“Making veterinary care accessible and affordable for everyone regardless of where they live or what their income is, is important,” said Sharon Scott-Chandler, Executive Vice President/COO of ABCD.

“Communities are stronger when pets are in them and what we see with ARL and ABCD is a shining example we hope others will emulate,” said Deborah Tucott, Acting President and COO of PetSmart Charities.

Keeping Pets Healthy in Loving Homes

The partnership between animal and human service organizations creates a larger reach to help those in need, and the end goal of ARL’s Pet Wellness Clinics are to keep animals healthy and in loving homes where they belong.

“I found out about this service at ABCD’s food pantry,” said Wellness Waggin’ client Iris Z. “(Today) is my second visit to ARL’s Wellness Waggin’; I really think it’s something we needed in the community and it’s been a wonderful experience for myself and my pets.”

“I absolutely love this service,” said Wellness Waggin’ client Sequoia J. “It’s a really good service to have for locals at an affordable price.”

Thank You

ARL wishes to express its extreme gratitude to ABCD for its partnership, and is also grateful to generous grants from PetSmart Charities and the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation, who made it possible for ARL to purchase and outfit its brand-new Wellness Waggin’. The vehicle is state-of-the-art, and features a separate exam and surgical area.

Wellness Waggin’

The Wellness Waggin’ makes weekly stops in Roxbury, Dorchester, and starting August 30 in Mattapan. Click here to schedule an appointment and to find out about these high-quality, low-cost services!


Keep Your Pet Safe This Fourth of July

Some things to keep in mind while celebrating

This year, the Fourth of July holiday falls in the middle of the week – and in the middle of a string of hot and humid weather. It’s a time to celebrate, but it’s also a time to remember that the sun, crowds, and loud noises can lead to over-stimulation, fear, and a potentially harmful situation for your pets.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) asks that you keep these five simple, but important tips to create a safe environment for your dog if they must be with you.

  1. Keep your dog away from potentially hazardous objects. BBQ’s are a source of tempting smells, and obvious danger. Fireworks – a sudden bang and a flash of light: these are ingredients for striking fear into your dog and could also illicit “fearfully aggressive” behavior. Keep your animal away from fireworks or even sparklers.
  2. There’s no place like home. Who doesn’t enjoy the comforts of home? And during the Fourth of July holiday, it may just be the perfect place for your pup. Turning a TV or radio on at low volume can distract your dog from all the outside noise, and they can also be in a cool, temperature and humidity controlled environment with access to water to keep them comfortable.
  3. If they must be outside, keep your dog in a carrier or on a leash. While outdoors, set your dog up in style, with shade, ample air-flow, and plenty of cold water.
  4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked car if they must travel with you. When the temperature rises it’s Too Hot for Spot®! Animals don’t sweat like we do and can overheat easily. Even with seemingly mild temperatures outside, the inside of a car can heat up to well over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes, which can lead to deadly heat stroke. Massachusetts law also prohibits leaving an animal in a parked car; owners can face fines or even forfeiture of the animal.
  5. Make sure your dog’s microchip and ID tag information is current. Many animal shelters report an uptick of stray animals after July 4th due to the number of pets running away from the noise and excitement. Be sure your contact information is correct and up to date, and always have your information on your dog’s collar to ensure an easy reunion should they become separated from you.

Play it Safe

ARL wants you to enjoy the holiday as we celebrate the birth of our nation, and remember that prevention is always the best course of action for you and your pet. When possible, leave your pet at home to avoid a possible dangerous and stressful situation!


Video: ARL Conducts Recruit Training with Massachusetts State Police

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently made a trip to the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree, MA, to conduct Animal Cruelty training for the 171 members of the Massachusetts State Police 84th Recruit Training Troop.

ARL Director Law Enforcement Lt. Alan Borgal and ARL Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services Dr. Edward Schettino instructed these future troopers in a number of facets of animal cruelty.

These included how to recognize signs of animal abuse, existing animal cruelty laws, and how ARL and other animal welfare organizations can assist state and local police in investigating suspected cruelty cases.

“Our goal was to help them understand, first animal cruelty, what it is and how you identify animal cruelty,” said Dr. Schettino. “They are going to be the first responders to many situations.”

“We recognize that laws on the books not only protect people, they protect animals as well,” stated MSP Academy Commandant Det. Lt. Michael Baxter. “We want our troopers to be mindful of those laws, to be able to recognize animal cruelty and abuse.”

ARL is extremely honored to have had this incredible opportunity to instruct the next generation of MSP Troopers.


Good Samaritans Step in to Get Dogs Out of Bad Situation

When an unidentified woman was wandering around the Lynnway Mart recently trying to sell a pair of Shih Tzus for cheap, two Good Samaritans stepped in to get the dogs to safety.

For local news coverage of this story click here!

The dogs were purchased separately for $40 and $50 – the woman with the dogs allegedly told one buyer that if she couldn’t sell the dog she was going to “get rid of it one way or another.”

The animals were filthy, unkempt and underweight. Both dogs were brought to Ocean View Kennels in Revere, where kennel owner Lisa Cutting contacted the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department.

Aside from their outward appearance, the two-year-old (Chanel) and six-year-old (Tiffany) dogs both needed surgical hernia repairs, which was performed by ARL shelter medicine staff. The pair have also been spayed, vaccinated, and microchipped.

Selling animals at flea markets is not prohibited in Massachusetts, however, this woman did not have a vendor booth or a license to sell animals and unfortunately there is no surveillance footage available at the market.

The Good Samaritans were focused on the welfare of the animals and were unable to give a detailed description.

Despite the lack of a description, anyone who has any information on who this person may be is asked to contact ARL’s Law Enforcement Department at 617-426-9170.

In the wake of this incident, staff at the Lynnway Mart will be on the lookout and will contact local police if the woman returns.