Category: Boston
ARL Takes Part in State House Rally Urging Legislators to Pass Boarding Kennel Regulations

This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy team participated in a rally on the front steps of the Massachusetts State House, urging legislators to pass legislation to implement uniform regulations for animal boarding facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

Currently there are no regulations regarding doggie day care and boarding facilities in Massachusetts.

At the beginning of the legislative session, a piece of legislation dubbed “Ollie’s Law” was filed, and sought to establish regulations regarding animal health and employee safety, allowing pet families to choose the best facility to suit their animal’s needs.

This legislation was born out of tragedy. In 2020, Amy Baxter brought her Labradoodle Ollie to a Western Massachusetts doggie daycare facility, only to receive a text shortly after saying Ollie had a cut and needed to be picked up. While the only employee working left the dogs unsupervised, he had been attacked by other dogs and was severely injured. Sadly Ollie died of his injuries two months later.

While the facility was shuttered by town officials, Baxter was stunned to learn that there were no state regulations regarding boarding facilities, and soon took up the fight to help ensure tragedy’s like this never happen again.

Unfortunately, the bill did not move forward.

However, An act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns (S.1332), remains very much alive, and does include language to establish regulations for boarding facilities.

ARL, along with other animals advocates make up the Ollie’s Law Coalition, and used this week’s rally to not only inform the public of a lack of regulations for boarding facilities, but to publicly urge the legislature to take action.

The goal is to prevent further tragedies like Ollie in the future.

“It’s my way honoring Ollie and also my way of healing myself and my family,” Baxter said. “If we can prevent this from happening again — whether it’s in Ollie’s name or not — then I’ll feel we accomplished something significant.”

“Every day that kennels and daycares are unregulated, the burden is on pet families to ensure that their pets are in good hands,” stated ARL Director of Advocacy Ally Blanck. “Reasonable regulation would protect pets, families, and the employees at these businesses.”

ARL’s Board Safely™ Campaign

With a continued lack of regulations in place for boarding facilities, it’s up to pet owners to do their own research when choosing a place to board their pet.

ARL’s Board Safety™ campaign provides pet families with the tools to help selecting a facility that is right for them.

Click here to see the steps you need to take to help ensure your pet will be taken care of.

International Women’s Day: Anna Harris Smith, ARL’s Founder Ahead of Her Time

Anna Harris Smith Founded ARL in 1899

Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day, a global day to acknowledge and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Anna Harris Smith, the founder of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), was a strong, compassionate, and persistent woman, who decided to change the landscape of animal welfare in the United States – 21 years before she had the legal right to vote.

A social worker from Dorchester, she took action after seeing the cruel mistreatment of Boston’s working horses and the hordes of stray and homeless animals living on the streets.

Appalled by what she was seeing on a daily basis, Anna Harris Smith penned an editorial for the Boston Evening Transcript, where she advocated for a centrally located shelter facility for the rescue and care of homeless cats and dogs and remarked, “While getting dogs and cats off the street is work worth doing, the teaching of thoughtful kindness is the work that changes families, communities, and a nation.”

Anna Harris Smith

Anna Harris Smith

In February 1899, 110 people gathered at the Park Street Church in Boston for the very first meeting of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and soon after opened the first shelter in the City of Boston, located at 68 Carver Street.

In 1907, Anna purchased a sprawling property in Dedham to serve as a sanctuary for working horses and homeless animals, and ARL’s Dedham campus continues to serve thousands of animals in need every year.

Through Anna’s fervor for humane education, and the growing impact of her work for animals in need, communities across the United States began to take notice, and used ARL as a model of how to form their own rescue societies.

Anna Harris Smith wrote and lectured extensively, tackling a host of humane issues of the time including the abandonment of pets, the abuse of working horses, transportation of livestock, and the importance of humane education for children.

In the first decades of the 20th-century, ARL’s work grew and Anna Harris Smith’s legacy was cemented.

Upon her passing in 1929, the American Humane Association stated “The passing of Mrs. Smith removes the outstanding woman in the history of animal protection in America. So long as humane history is preserved there will stand out among its records the name and fame of Mrs. Smith.”

A Lasting Legacy

Anna Harris Smith’s motto was “kindness uplifts the world”, the cornerstone on which ARL was built.

ARL has expanded greatly since Anna Harris Smith’s passing and as animal welfare evolves over time, one thing remains constant – the resolve and dedication by every ARL employee and volunteer to continue to honor her memory to uplift the world by one act of kindness at a time.

ARL Assists in Second Large-Scale Overcrowding Situation This Month   

For a second time in February, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is lending a hand to local animal control for a large-scale cat overcrowding situation – this time involving more than 90 cats in Middlesex County.

The situation unfolded earlier this week and involved local animal control and three other local humane organizations, and to date, ARL has taken in 22 cats, with more possibly on the way.

The cats range in ages from 9-months-old to 5-years-old and were transported from the residence to ARL’s Boston and Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Centers.

ARL’s shelter medicine team continues to examine the cats, and to this point, the bulk of the cats have been diagnosed with upper respiratory infections, a common by-product of overcrowding, ear mites, and advanced dental disease.

One of the cats also needed an emergency enucleation of an eye due to severe infection.

The cats are frightened, but continue to settle into their new surroundings, and ARL staff and volunteers are also working with the cats to assess their behavior.

It’s likely that once ARL’s shelter medicine team concludes medical treatment, including dental procedures, the cats will spend some time in ARL’s vast network of foster homes to heal and prepare for life in new, loving homes.

How You Can Help

ARL wishes to thank all the organizations and local animal control officers involved for their commitment and dedication to these animals in need, and while the cats have been surrendered, they still have a long road ahead.

It will take lots of time, medical treatment, and expert care to help these cats.

When you donate to ARL today, you will ensure they, and other animals like them, will get everything the need to heal and be adopted into loving homes.

We cannot do this work alone – ARL relies solely on the generosity of individuals to help animals in need.

Thank you for your compassion and for being a Champion for Animals in need!

Click here to make a donation today. 

ARL Takes in 27 Cats from Overcrowding Situation

One cat diagnosed with rare congenital condition

In early February, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) worked with local animal control to take in in 27 cats from a home in Worcester County due to overcrowding.

The caretaker had simply become overwhelmed by the number of cats in the home, and requested surrender of the majority of the animals.

These types of situations can be extremely delicate and more often than not, this case included, the animals are truly loved, however, due to the sheer number of animals, the caretaker was unable to provide proper care.

Once removed from the residence, the cats were transported to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The animals underwent thorough veterinary exams, and along with signs of ear mites and fleas, a number of the cats were also treated for upper respiratory infections, which is a common byproduct of overcrowding.

ARL’s shelter medicine team also spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped all of the cats.

After a time of recuperation, many of the cats were placed up for adoption and found loving homes.

Additionally, local animal control and town health officials continue working with the caretaker to improve the living situation, and because tremendous progress has been made, three of the cats have been returned to the home.

Cat Diagnosed with Rare Congenital Condition

A few of the cats remain in the care of ARL, including a 3-year-old male cat named Chubbins, who was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism, a rare condition for cats.

Thyroid hormones are critical for the development of the nervous and skeletal systems, and an underactive thyroid can create a number of symptoms including lethargy, mental dullness, cold intolerance, loss of fur, among others.

The condition can also cause smaller than normal proportions, which is the case for Chubbins.

While 3-years-old, Chubbins has the body frame of a 8-10-month-old kitten and weighs just 5 pounds – a typical cat this age should weight around 11 pounds.

Chubbins is receiving thyroid hormone replacement therapy, and while responding well to the medication, he will need to spend some time in foster care before being made available for adoption.

ARL Here to Help

If you or someone you know is overwhelmed by having too many animals in their home, there is help available.

You can contact local animal control, or ARL’s Field Services Department for assistance.

Overcrowding can lead to serious health concerns not only for the animals, but for people living among them as well.

ARL approaches every overcrowding situation with respect, compassion, and a staunch commitment to ensuring the health and safety of the animals involved, as well as their caretakers.

Click here to make a donation today. 

Cat Living on Streets for 10 Years Finds Home for Retirement

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Community Cat Program was launched in 2017 to address the estimated 700,000 community cats, 70,000 in Boston alone, living in the harsh condition of the streets.

ARL helps these animals by working with a number of sources, including animal control officers throughout the Commonwealth, as well as local residents who monitor and feed community cats.

It was the latter that led to the recent rescue of a 10-year-old female cat that had been living in a Brighton neighborhood for a decade.

The Rescue

Thelma’s feeder contacted ARL, saying they could no longer monitor the cat.

ARL headed to the neighborhood and trapped the feisty female, transporting her to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Thelma was ear-tipped, meaning she had been spayed in the past and returned to the field, and had been living on her street longer than most of its residents.

Community cats like Thelma are incredibly resilient, surviving the harsh seasonal conditions New England has to offer, and avoiding predators and scrums with other community cats.

While having a feeder, Thelma did not have regular veterinary care, and it showed.

Along with the visible signs of a cat living on her own for a decade, she was a little underweight, and had advanced dental disease.

ARL’s shelter medicine team provided Thelma with a thorough veterinary exam, dental care, which included several tooth extractions, and vaccines.

Coming Out of Her Shell

Of course, Thelma wasn’t used to being indoors, and like any community cat, was keenly aware of her surroundings and on guard.

While initially showing a tough exterior when interacting with ARL staff and volunteers, the toughness faded after a few minutes of petting with a rolling purr and even a little drool!

With her tough exterior and heart of gold, it was clear that Thelma would thrive in a home.

Thelma spent a few weeks in foster care to allow her time to get used to being indoors, and she was soon ready to find her retirement home.

Going Home

Thelma became available for adoption just this week, and to nobody’s surprise she found her perfect match quickly!

Every animal deserves the opportunity to be in a loving home, and Thelma is a shining example of ARL’s commitment to helping community cats living in our communities.

Click here to search adoptable animals. 

About ARL’s Community Cat Program

Community cats face many challenges living outdoors.

Without proper shelter and care, they are at risk of illness and injury.

Additionally, without spay/neuter surgery, these cats can produce many litters and continue the cycle of large colonies of unowned cats.

As an unwavering champion for animals in need, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) believes that the challenges that face community cats require our attention and action.

Click here for more information about ARL’s Community Cat Program and how you can help.

Press Release: ARL Law Enforcement, Dedham PD Investigating Deceased Dog Left on ARL Dedham Campus

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department and Dedham Police Department are jointly investigating a case of animal cruelty and abandonment, after an emaciated deceased dog was found on ARL’s Dedham campus.

The animal was discovered in late October, and while a number of leads have been followed, and numerous investigative tactics have been deployed, law enforcement is now asking for the public’s assistance to determine who may have left the dog and circumstances surrounding the incident.

The young adult Pitbull-type male dog was discovered by an ARL employee on October 25, 2021, with ARL Law Enforcement taking immediate action. A necropsy on the dog was performed on October 26, 2021, and concluded the animal suffered from severe malnutrition.

ARL Law Enforcement reached out to Dedham Police shortly thereafter, and the two agencies have since been jointly investigating the incident. Surveillance footage revealed that on October 23, 2021 at approximately 11:17 p.m., an SUV-type vehicle with two unidentified people inside entered ARL property and proceeded to leave the animal on a walkway before exiting the property.

Analysis of the video revealed that the suspect vehicle is likely a Nissan Rogue.

Anyone with information can contact ARL Law Enforcement at (617) 470-4266 x110 or email cruelty@arlboston.org, or Dedham Police Detective Kevin Mahoney at (781) 751-9301 or email kmahoney@police.dedham-ma.gov.

ARL Law Enforcement would like to thank the Dedham Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab, and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office for their ongoing assistance in investigating this matter.

Legislature Advances Bills Backed by ARL

This past week featured a flurry of activity on Beacon Hill, particularly for animal-based legislation, as several ARL priorities advanced.

Nero’s Law

Nero’s Law, filed after the tragic death of Sgt. Sean Gannon and wounding of his K9 partner Nero, was signed into law by the Governor.

Filed by staunch animal advocates Senator Mark Montigny and Representative Steven Xiarhos, this law will insure that police dogs like Nero have access to emergency care and transport.

ARL’s Director of Law Enforcement Joe King, former K9 handler and Major with the Massachusetts State Police, testified in support of this law earlier in the session.


With Hawaii joining the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact last year, Massachusetts is now the only state that is not a member.

Unfortunately, this means that Massachusetts is not a part of the network of 49 other states who share violations of hunting violations.

Massachusetts came one step closer to joining when the anti-poaching bill, filed by Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and Senator Michael Moore, passed the House on February 9.

The bill is now in front of the Senate, where it has passed in previous sessions.

Joint Rule 10

One of the most important deadlines in the two-year legislative session is called “Joint Rule 10 Day”.

This year, February 2 was the deadline for bills to get initial approval, denial, or other action by committees.

Joint Committees are grouped by topics, and most of ARL’s bills go to committees like Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture; or Judiciary, but bills can go to any committee.

These committees hold hearings and then decide whether bills get favorable reports, adverse reports, or sent to study.

Occasionally committees will group bills together and issue a new draft that is a combination of similar bills.

Many of ARL’s priority issues were given favorable reports: kennel regulations (S.1322), a ban on traveling animal acts (S.2251), regulation of boarding facilities (S.582, H.949).

Earlier in the session, a ban on unnecessary declawing also advanced from committee (S.222).

Several of ARL’s priorities were combined into one bill that would: expand the possession ban on animal ownership for convicted animal abusers, expand civil citation authority to more animals, allow DCF employees to report animal abuse at any point in an investigation, and increase funding to the Homeless Animal Fund (S. 2672).

This year, all of the bills ARL opposed were sent to study.

This is a great win to defend animal protection measures, but there are still efforts to expand hunting and trapping.

Unfortunately, several of ARL’s priority bills were also sent to study.

Efforts to ban the retail sale of pets, end breed discrimination in housing, and increase enforcement of tethering violations will not move forward this session.

Many bills are filed multiple times before passing, making it even more noteworthy when bills are able to move forward.

Thank You!

Advancing bills on Beacon Hill is no small feat, and we couldn’t do it without the help of incredible volunteers.

The session isn’t close to over—there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and help get these bills across the finish line and on the Governor’s desk before the end of session on July 31.

Contact advocacy@arlboston.org with any questions, or for ways to get involved.


Cat Rescued from Tree Ready for Adoption

There is no such thing as a routine rescue of a cat stuck in a tree, it’s always a precarious situation, and presents safety concerns for both the humans and animals involved.

In late January, the Animal of Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department was contacted by animal control in Mansfield, MA, to assist with a cat that had been stuck at the very top of a tree for more than 12 hours.

The four-year-old cat, later named Henry, was approximately 30 feet from the ground, and once on scene, ARL’s Field Services agent and Mansfield Animal Control deployed nets around the tree and began to assess the situation – however, Henry didn’t want to wait.

Henry was dangling from a branch, and was also frightened and exhausted. As he was trying to get his footing he lost his balance, and tumbled towards the ground.

The nets did their job, providing a soft landing for the cat, and while frightened, he was able to be safely secured, and was then rushed to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center for triage and veterinary care.

ARL’s shelter medicine staff gave Henry a thorough exam, and along with finding a heart murmur, Henry also had a number of abrasions from his experience in the tree.

Henry was overcome with fatigue following his harrowing ordeal, but knew he was in a caring and nurturing environment, and once settled in, he ate heartily and began the healing process.

Ready to Go Home

Thanks to have a quiet place to rest and recuperate, Henry quickly began to showcase his personality.

The handsome cat would welcome anyone who would come and visit, headbutting hands, purring loudly, and curling up in the laps of staff and volunteers.

With his tree ordeal behind him, Henry is now ready to find his perfect match!

To see Henry’s profile, click here.

ARL Field Services

As part of its Community Outreach programs, ARL’s Field Services provides technical (tree climbing and swift/ice water) and non-technical rescues for injured domestic animals – including community cats, livestock, and raptors (turkey vultures, ospreys, hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls).

For more information about ARL’s Field Services click here!

It’s National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month!

Spay and Neutering Pets Promotes Health and Longevity

For all of us, the health and well-being of our beloved family pets is paramount; and the simplest way to reduce nuisance and aggressive behaviors, improve long-term health and longevity, is to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered.

February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month, and here at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), we field questions about spay and neuter on a daily basis which typically revolve around two issues – cost and understanding the real and long-term benefits for you and your pet.

Affordable Options Exist

Don’t let cost be a barrier, as there are numerous affordable options throughout Massachusetts that are readily available.

Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about your best course of action, but here are a couple of options.

ARL’s Spay Waggin’ is a mobile veterinary clinic offering high-quality and affordable spay and neuter services. The Spay Waggin’ rotates through the following stops throughout Southeastern Massachusetts: Brockton, Boston, Falmouth, New Bedford, North Dartmouth, Plymouth, Taunton, and Wareham. The Spay Waggin’ has performed over 66,800 spay/neuter surgeries since its inception.

Another place to turn is your local Animal Control Officer. The Massachusetts Animal Fund’s spay and neuter voucher program allows low-income residents receiving state assistance to get their pets this important surgery free of charge. Vouchers can be obtained through your city or town’s Animal Control Officer and are redeemed at participating providers, including ARL’s Spay Waggin’ and Community Surgical Clinic.

By the way, you can help keep this program going by donating on your state tax form on line 33f!

Long-Term Health Benefits

Caring for animals can be expensive, especially when it comes to their health. But consider this – having your pet spayed or neutered can reduce the risk of serious, and costly, health problems later in life.

Neutering male dogs and cats before six months of age prevents testicular cancer and spaying female cats and dogs before their first heat reduces the risk of uterine infections and breast cancer.
Spaying and neutering can also reduce behavioral problems such as marking territory, howling or barking, aggression and wandering.

We all want our pets to live long and healthy lives, and having an animal spayed or neutered actually increases their longevity. According to published reports, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than unneutered males, and spayed females live 23 percent longer than spayed females.

Healthy Moms, Happy Litters

How about if you have a pet at home with an unwanted or accidental litter of puppies or kittens? No problem, the Animal Rescue League of Boston can help.

Through the Healthy Moms, Happy Litters program, ARL will provide free spay and neuter services and vaccinations for mother/father dogs and cats. Once the procedure is complete, and animals are returned to the owner.

ARL will also waive the surrender fee for the litter of puppies or kittens, who will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and placed up for adoption.

Remember, there are an abundance of resources and help available to those who need it so please consider having your pet spayed or neutered for their happiness, their health, and for your piece of mind.

Community Cat Found Living in Storm Drain Seeking New Home

Community cats are incredibly adept when it comes to finding a warm, safe place to escape the elements.

While Bagel, a 3-year-old now former community cat, had found the comfort and safety of a storm drain in Fall River, it was the compassion of his feeder who took it upon themselves to contact the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department – just days before a historic blizzard descended upon the region.

Bagel upon arrival in Boston.

During his time living in the storm drain, he was constantly monitored and fed by a Good Samaritan while he was roaming a nearby grocery store parking lot. Upon arrival at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, Bagel made up for lost time, eating everything in sight and relaxing in his nice, warm bedding.

Bagel began interacting with ARL staff and volunteers fairly quickly, meowing for attention, purring, and accepting pets and treats, making it clear that he was friendly and would thrive if given the chance to find and family and a home of his own.

Despite his friendly demeanor, Bagel did have signs of living on his own for a period of time and was also involved in an altercation or two with another cat at some point.

Along with dental disease, Bagel had several teeth that were fractured and needed to be extracted.

Additionally, he had conjunctivitis, and also tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which is spread by bite wounds between cats, but cannot be transmitted to people.

Ready to Go Home

**Update 2/2/22: Bagel has been adopted!**

After extensive dental work and being neutered, Bagel has recovered and is now looking for his new home!

For more information about Bagel and how to inquire about adoption, click here!

ARL’s Community Cat Program

It is estimated that there are more than 700,000 community cats throughout Massachusetts, 70,000 in Boston alone.

Community cats face many challenges living outdoors. Without proper shelter and care, they are at risk of illness and injury.

Additionally, without spay/neuter surgery, these cats can produce many litters and continue the cycle of large colonies of unowned cats.

ARL’s Community Cat Program tackles this issue by working with individuals who take it upon themselves to feed and monitor these animals, as well as animal control officers to assess a colony and formulate a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) plan.

Spay and neuter surgeries are low risk and proven to improve the safety and health of these cats as well as the community as a whole. The plan also includes vaccines, and whether each cat will be returned to the colony, returned to their owner if microchipped, or admitted to an ARL shelter to be put up for adoption if they are friendly, just like Bagel.

For more information about ARL’s Community Cat Program, click here!