Category: Boston
Home for the Holidays: Buzz Lightyear Finds a Perfect Landing Spot

Cat was found in Fall River with a glass jar stuck on her head

You may recall the story of Buzz Lightyear, back in October, the six-month-old kitten was spotted on the streets of Fall River in a precarious situation – she had a glass jar stuck on her head!

Fall River Animal Control contacted the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department for assistance, and because ARL’s Community Cat Program is extremely active in the city, an agent was already in Fall River and was able to respond to the situation quickly.

Upon arrival, the kitten was seen wandering along the roadway, and while it took a bit of time, Buzz Lightyear was eventually captured by use of a drop trap.

Although she could not smell with the jar on her head, the agent used food to lure two of Buzz’s siblings into the trap and out of curiosity, she followed.

Once secured, ARL’s Field Services agent was able to handle the kitten and remove the glass jar, and then transported Buzz to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Preparing For a New Home

While Buzz Lightyear settled into her temporary surroundings at ARL quickly, she was unaccustomed to being cared for by humans and needed some time to undergo socialization with staff and volunteers.

After getting up-to-date on vaccines and undergoing spay surgery, she was placed in ARL’s cat colony room in Dedham, which included a couple of her siblings, to help her feel more comfortable and allow staff and volunteers to gain her trust and help her learn how to interact with people.

Going Home

It wasn’t long before Buzz Lightyear was showing off her friendly and playful side, and she was made available for adoption.

She was adopted almost immediately upon being made available, and is looking forward to spending her first holiday season in her new home where she is thriving with her new family and feline companion!

Making a Difference

When you make your year-end gift today, you can help make sure animals like Buzz Lightyear get everything they deserve this holiday season.

Your generosity means you can be there for animals, every step of the journey home, as long as it takes.

From transports from overcrowded shelters or emergency rescues, to veterinary care, enrichment and behavior training, and finally adoption – you make it all possible.

2,285+ animals in need have already found homes this year. Will you make a year-end gift to help one more?


Home for the Holidays: Former Community Cat Overcomes Obstacles to Find Loving Home

Community cat received extensive treatment while in care of ARL

Animals are amazing in so many ways, but the resilience of animals seen every day at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is awe-inspiring, and a 7-month-old former community cat who has found his Home for the Holidays exemplifies resilience.

Yogurt came into the care of ARL in July from a colony in Fall River, an area of the state that ARL’s Community Cat Program is extremely active.

In Desperate Need of Care

The kitten was in rough shape upon arrival at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center: his abdomen was distended, he was very underweight, was infested with fleas and additionally, he had a fractured leg and a severe wound on his tail.

ARL’s shelter medicine team amputated part of his tail, and because the injury was a wound of unknown origin, Yogurt was placed into the state-mandated four-month quarantine protocol.

The hope was the fracture would heal with rest and constant monitoring, but over time the leg did not improve, and for his health and well-being, the leg was amputated.

Despite enduring so much at such a young age, Yogurt was resilient through it all.

Gaining Confidence

Because he previously lived outdoors, he needed plenty of socialization to become used to being cared for by humans, and that’s where ARL’s behavioral team came in.

Using clicker training that positively reinforces good behaviors, Yogurt took to his training well and soon became comfortable with those around him.

Yogurt transformed from a shy kitten, to a kitten that would quickly interact with anyone willing, purr loudly, and more than just a lap cat, he has been known to actually fall asleep in people’s arms!

Ready to Go Home

As Yogurt steadily progressed, he became an office foster so he could have constant interaction with people, and once his four-month quarantine had lapsed, he was ready to go into a new home.

Unsurprisingly, Yogurt was adopted quickly, finding a new home with an ARL employee, and he is now Home for the Holidays with his new family, happy, healthy, and thriving!

Make a Difference Today

For a homeless animal or at-risk pet like Yogurt, your kindness can change their whole life.

Your support is a powerful source of hope for the animals we serve, as it will ensure that we are able to provide all animals in our care with the level of compassion and love they deserve.

Will you make a gift to help animals experience kindness and joy this holiday season?

Join ARL today, and thank you for being a Champion for Animals!

ARL Receives Grant Through Thomas C. McGowan Fund for Animals of the Cape Cod Foundation

Grant funds to assist behaviorally and medically challenged animals on Cape Cod

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is pleased to announce the organization has received a generous grant from the Thomas C. McGowan Fund for Animals of the Cape Cod Foundation, which will greatly benefit behaviorally and medically challenged animals in the care of ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center through 2024.

Two vets doing an exam on a beagle dog

The Thomas C. McGowan Fund for Animals grant will help provide animals on Cape Cod with the care they need.

The Thomas C. McGowan Fund for Animals of the Cape Cod Foundation grant, in the amount of $20,000, will be distributed over a two-year period to help ARL treat the increased volume of cats and dogs with complex medical and behavior issues which require a significant investment in care.

These issues are barriers to adoption and increase an animal’s length-of-stay (LOS).

Prolonged LOS can exacerbate or cause more issues.

Medical concerns affect an animal’s quality of life and can have negative effects on behavior. If left untreated, issues pose a financial burden and stress for potential adopters.

“ARL prides itself on its ability to deliver high-quality medical and behavioral care to every animal in our care on an individual level,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “With ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center seeing more and more of these types of animals coming through our doors, these grant funds will ensure that ARL can continue its standard of care, while finding these animals permanent and loving homes.”

In 2021, ARL’s Brewster location adopted nearly 100 animals with behavior concerns, representing 20 percent of adoptions.

The location maintained an average length-of-stay of 10 days for cats, 11 days for dogs, and 20 days for small animals and livestock. Additionally, ARL’s Shelter Medicine staff performed 275 surgeries and provided nearly 700 exams for animals in ARL’s care.

ARL Joins MAF for Special Spay/Neuter Clinic in Fall River

Spay/neuter clinic provides vital surgery for 30 cats

This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’ was once again in Fall River for a special spay/neuter clinic for more than two dozen cats as part of an ongoing collaborative effort with ARL, the Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF), and Fall River Animal Control.

For four years, ARL has participated in the clinic in collaboration with MAF and Fall River Animal Control, with well over 100 animals receiving the vital spay/neuter surgery throughout this partnership.

The surgeries are under the MAF voucher program, which distributes vouchers to qualifying low-income pet owners to cover the cost of the important procedure.

Due to high demand, many clients have been on a waiting list for a number of months to have their pets spayed or neutered, and ARL is pleased to once again be providing this vital service that’s greatly needed in the Fall River Community.

“Fall River is already a struggling community, but since the pandemic, it seems as if getting spay/neuter services has proven to be even more difficult,” said Cynthia Berard-Cadima, Fall River Animal Control Officer. “People contact us daily, asking for funds.  Many are out of work and our homeless community is growing.  We are stretching every dime and our veterinarians are donating time and services more than ever.”

Clinics like this that provide subsidized spay and neuter services are at the core of MAF, which is primarily funded by the voluntary tax check off (Line 33f) on the Massachusetts resident income tax form. Since 2014, the MAF voucher program has helped provide spay and neuter services for more than 17,500 animals.

Along with these clinics, ARL continues to be extremely active in the Fall River, as the city is a hotbed when it comes to community cats.

With community cat colonies scattered throughout the city, ARL’s Community Cat Program has provided ample assistance to Fall River Animal Control over the past several years, trapping hundreds of cats, providing them with veterinary care, spay/neuter surgery, and finding the vast majority of them loving homes.

This work has become a year-round effort, and ARL cannot do this work alone.

Donate Today and Your Gift will Have Double the Impact!

The last few years have been extraordinarily difficult and soaring inflation has stretched our budget to the limit. Half of ARL’s donations arrive in the last three months of the year, and most giving happens in the last two weeks of December, yet animals need help every day. This is why GivingTuesday is such an important event for animals in need.

ARL’s Board of Directors, President & CEO, and Friends of ARL, are matching all gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000 until Giving Tuesday, 11/29. Please make a gift today through our Facebook fundraiser (100% of your donation will go towards helping animals in need) or directly through our secure, online form.

ARL Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is reminding pet owners of some things to keep in mind to help keep our pets safe and healthy as we celebrate with friends, family, food and festivities!

Cat laying in Christmas free

Plants and Decorations

Pet owners should be aware of the holiday plants being brought into the home – mistletoe, holly, some types of lilies can cause a host of issues if they are ingested and additionally, poinsettias, while traditional, can also be toxic. Stick to artificial plant decorations, or opt for a pet-friendly bouquet.

If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it’s anchored so it doesn’t tip over and injure your pet, and also be sure to keep pets from drinking the tree water which could cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

For decorations, with its sparkle, tinsel can be mistaken for a toy, but if ingested can cause vomiting, dehydration or even a blockage in the digestive tract, so in short, if you have pets, leave the tinsel in the box!

Also, be sure to never leave candles unattended, and keep wires, batteries and ornaments out of reach of your pet’s paws.

small dog sniffing sweets in a bowl

Foods to Avoid

We all know that chocolate is a no-no, but there are also potential dangers hidden in many of the side dishes and snacks we enjoy during the holidays.

These include onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, nuts, milk and dairy, and xylitol, which is a sweetener found in many products including candy, gum and baked goods, can all be toxic to our pets.

Do not give your dog bones, either cooked or raw! Bones can splinter, causing intestinal obstructions and even fracture teeth.

Be mindful while cooking – consider keeping pets out of the kitchen and remind your guests not to feed your pets any scraps!

Should your pet ingest any items that may be toxic, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.

white cat laying on bookshelf

Holiday Gatherings

If your hosting family or friends for the holidays, it could be a stimulus overload for your pet, causing anxiety and overexcitement. And in turn unpleasant behaviors may surface so be sure to set up your pet for success before your guests arrive.

Give your pets get plenty of attention and exercise prior to guests arriving because we all know tired pets are more apt to be better behaved pets!

With guests constantly coming and going, it’s best to remind visitors to be mindful when entering and exiting your home to ensure your pet does not make a great escape in all of the excitement – if they are overanxious they may make a dash for the door!

Additionally, provide your pet with a safe space away from your guests should they need an escape from the excitement.

The space should have fresh water, food, and items to keep them occupied including toys, or perhaps a food puzzle and bedding so they can be comfortable.

We all want our pets safe and healthy, so it’s best to plan ahead to ensure a worry-free holiday season.

ARL Partners with New England Center and Home for Veterans

ARL to offer variety of services, including temporary pet housing

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is proud to announce a new partnership with the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV), in an effort to further serve Veterans who may be facing housing instability or other challenges.

ARL is currently offering its Temporary Pet Housing Initiative to NECHV clients, to ensure Veterans are getting the help they need, avoiding pet surrender, and keeping pets and people together. To date, ARL has already assisted several animals who have since been reunited with their owners.

“ARL is honored for the opportunity to partner with the New England Center and Home for Veterans by offering temporary pet housing to former service men and women who are in the midst of transitioning to permanent housing,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “To be able to temporarily care for and then reunite these animals with their families is a special responsibility, and ARL is proud to play a role in keeping pets out of shelters and in homes with the people who love them.”

“The New England Center and Home for Veterans is pleased to offer the services of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Temporary Pet Housing Initiative to the Veterans we serve,” said NECHV President and CEO C. Andrew McCawley. “Pets are like family, and the thought of having to give them up can contribute to the disruptiveness of homelessness. Through this partnership, Veteran pet owners who are experiencing housing instability can have peace of mind, knowing that their pets will be well cared for until they can be reunited with them.”

ARL’s Temporary Pet Housing Initiative allows pets to stay within ARL’s vast foster care network, relieving the pet owner of having to make any difficult pet-related decisions while allowing them to focus on bettering their own situation.

As the partnership grows, ARL aims to provide further services to Veterans and their pets including pet wellness, spay/neuter, among others.


Founded in 1989, the New England Center and Home for Veterans is a nationally recognized leader in serving Veterans.  The NECHV is a multi-dimensional service and care provider that assists Veterans who are facing challenges with a broad array of programs and services that enable success, meaningful employment, and dignified, independent living.

*To protect the privacy of veterans in this program, the photos used in this blog are not participants of the program.

ARL Hosts Free Rabies Vaccine Clinics in Partnership with Boston Animal Control

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently teamed up with Boston Animal Control for two community rabies vaccine clinics, in an effort to provide convenient and accessible services for Boston pet owners.

With the partnership with Boston Animal Control, pet owners were able to have their animals receive a rabies vaccine, distemper vaccine, microchip, as well as pet licenses – all for free!

The rabies vaccine clinics were held at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, and at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center in Dorchester, and staffed by ARL and Boston Animal Control veterinarians, as well as ARL volunteers.

The combined clinics had a tremendous impact, helping more than 150 animals!

This marks the fourth rabies vaccine clinic that ARL has hosted this year.

Previously, ARL held clinics in Dedham and on Cape Cod to further offer these vital services to pet owners in the regions that ARL proudly serves.

Aside from accessibility and convenience, the services the rabies clinics provided were also vital for pet owners.

A rabies vaccine is important for a variety of reasons, but Massachusetts law also requires dogs and cats to be vaccinated for rabies, and the importance of a  microchip cannot be overstated.

Microchips have reunited thousands of pets with their owners, even ones who have been missing for years or traveled many miles away! If your pet were to go astray, any veterinarian’s office, animal hospital, or animal shelter would be able to scan your pet’s microchip and contact you immediately. Nearly half of the animals receiving services during the past two clinics also received microchips.

ARL would like to thank Boston Animal Control for continuing these annual clinics and look forward to providing further services in 2023!

ARL Updates Condition of Severely Burned Dog Found in Norwood in August

Burned dog found as stray, suffered severe burns to 20 percent of its body

This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was pleased to be able to provide an update to members of the Boston media about a severely burned one-year-old mixed-breed dog who was found as a stray in Norwood in late August, and is continuing on her path to recovery.

ARL’s Law Enforcement Department and Norwood Police continue to jointly investigate the incident as a case of animal cruelty and abandonment and once again is asking the public for any assistance in the investigation.

Watch local media coverage.

While her condition is still guarded, over the past two months, Annie has shown tremendous perseverance, undergoing comprehensive and sometimes painful procedures to aid in the healing process of the burns covering her head, neck, shoulders, front limbs, and abdomen.

The pain for Annie has been greatly reduced, her fur is beginning to grow back, and she is thriving in the care of a loving foster home.

Annie continues to require frequent follow-ups with ARL’s shelter medicine staff to ensure her recovery is steadily progressing, and given the trauma she has suffered, being in a foster home has helped her build confidence and be comfortable in a home.

“Her care involved a lot of pain control, it was very difficult in the beginning,” ARL Veterinarian Dr. Hannah Donnelly said. “Her hair started growing back probably a month ago, you can see she’s really come a long way and she’s completely off of all her medications. Her behavior, her attitude, everything is so much better, she’s a lot more comfortable just around people and she’s doing real dog things [like] playing with toys, playing with people, and figuring out life again.”

Despite her progress, Annie still has a way to go in the recovery process, and she remains unavailable for adoption.

This is an ongoing investigation, and anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact ARL’s Law Enforcement Department at 617-426-9170 x110 or email cruelty@arlboston.org; or Norwood Police at 781-440-5100.

ARL Hosts Important Training Sessions

ARL Dedham Campus to continue offering space for animal-related training sessions

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Dedham campus recently hosted two training sessions to better equip those on the front lines of animal protection in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF) utilized ARL’s Rabe Family Education and Training Center to conduct a core competencies course for 45 animal and law enforcement officers representing municipalities throughout the Commonwealth, and is a vital part of officers having the tools and training to safely work with animals on a day-to-day basis.

The all-day training session covered a variety of topics including animal law, emergency preparedness, report writing and record keeping, responding to wildlife, among others.

While MAF collaborates with ARL for a number of subsidized spay/neuter clinics annually, ARL was thrilled to be able to host the organization for this important training session, and looks forward to hosting again in the future!

“The Mass Animal Fund is grateful to ARL Boston for allowing us to utilize their new state-of-art new training room in their Dedham branch,” stated MAF Program Coordinator, Sheri Gustafson. “The training room provided a comfortable, spacious, and convenient venue for 45 municipal officers to attend the 2022 Animal Control Officers Core Competencies Training for no cost. The room was the perfect backdrop for this important training that covered Massachusetts animal laws, wildlife response, report writing/record keeping, officer safety, and emergency preparedness.  We look forward to visiting the facility again soon!”

ASPCA Training Session on Combating Animal Blood Sports

Animal blood sports, including dog fighting, is a reprehensible practice that, while illegal in all 50 states including Massachusetts, still exists.

ARL recently hosted Terry Mills, Director of Blood Sports Investigations with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and a nationally renowned expert on the subject to conduct a training session on the subject.

Those in attendance included law enforcement officers, prosecutors, veterinarians, among others, and the course covered a variety of subjects including an overview of the subculture of animal fighting, case histories, and tools to combat animal fighting on a local level.

While the subject matter is not for the faint of heart, the tools offered in the training session are vital for the collaborative disruption of the practice and the welfare for the animals involved.

ARL Law Enforcement and Advocacy Speak to State Trooper Cadets

Additionally, ARL’s Law Enforcement and Advocacy Departments recently spoke to the 87th Recruit Training Troop at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in the western part of the state.

ARL has spoken to cadets for the past several years, and during the training session, ARL addressed existing animal cruelty laws, recognizing signs of animal abuse, and how ARL can assist local and state law enforcement agencies in investigating cases of suspected animal cruelty.

ARL is honored to have had this incredible opportunity to instruct the next generation of Massachusetts State Police Troopers, and look forward to continuing this collaborative effort with the Massachusetts State Police.

Press Release: ARL Awarded Grant from “I’m Animal Friendly” License Plate Funds

Grant helps fund special spay/neuter clinics 

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is happy to announce they are a recipient of a 2022 grant from the MA “I’m Animal Friendly” license plate program. Funds will be used towards ARL’s low-cost spay and neuter programs to assist those who need it most.

One of more than two dozen animals who received spay/neuter surgery thanks to the generous MAC grant.

The “I’m Animal Friendly” license plates are a program of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition. Funds are granted annually to organizations that demonstrate a need for funding and provide low-cost spay/neuter services. Through this year MAC has awarded $2,866,000 to many deserving organizations.

The MAC grants are being utilized to provide subsidized spay and neuter surgeries through ARL’s Spay Waggin’ during two special clinic days at the Franklin Park Zoo, which will serve more than two dozen animals.

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston is extremely grateful to the Massachusetts Animal Coalition for awarding these much-needed funds to allow ARL the opportunity to assist pet owners in the Greater Boston area who need it most by providing this important procedure,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino.


Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC) is a statewide, non-profit organization comprised of animal welfare professionals and individual volunteers dedicated to working together to decrease the number of homeless, neglected, displaced and abused animals in Massachusetts. MAC’s “I’m Animal Friendly” license plate program helps fund spay and neuter programs across the state. These charitable plates are available through Massachusetts RMV and are tax deductible.