Category: Brewster
ARL Provides Critical Surgery for Transport Cat

The majority of animals who come to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) only have to travel a few miles to get the help they need. However, there are others, like Miso, a 3-year-old cat, who come from other regions of the country to get the help they need and the second chance they deserve.

For Miso, his journey began nearly 2,000 miles away in Fort Worth, Texas. He was part of a transport of cats recently brought to ARL.

Upon arrival at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, the cats received thorough veterinary exams, and it was clear that Miso’s needs extended beyond routine.

Along with an upper respiratory infection and advanced dental disease effecting more than half of his mouth, he was also diagnosed with entropion – a genetic condition where a portion of the eyelid is inverted.

Entropion is uncomfortable because it scratches the cornea causing irritation, and if left untreated, can cause corneal ulceration and possible blindness.

Miso’s Treatment

After assessing and diagnosing Miso’s condition, ARL’s shelter medicine team went to work, surgically repairing the eyelid, and also performing a dental procedure which included extracting 5 of his teeth.

Following the procedure, Miso was constantly monitored, and was given ample time to rest and recover.

Ready to Go Home

As Miso’s recovery went on, he started to feel better, and also began showing his personality.

Miso can be a little shy when first meeting him, but he is quick to warm up, and while his first three years have been an adventure, he is ready to settle into the loving home he deserves.

ARL Shelter Medicine

All animals who come to ARL receive veterinary exams, vaccines, are spayed/neutered, and microchipped by ARL’s shelter medicine team.

ARL also has the capability to handle a wide variety of surgical procedures to ensure that our animals are healthy, happy, and thriving.

ARL Receives Transport of Dogs Rescued from Cruelty and Neglect by the ASPCA 

Transport marks growing partnership with national organization

This past week the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) continued its growing partnership with the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) receiving a transport of dogs who were removed from animal cruelty and neglect situations and are now looking for loving homes.

The dogs came from two separate cruelty investigations through ASPCA’s partnership with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and presented with various medical needs.

Meet the Pups in Need

**Update: all dogs have been adopted!**


Waggington, a three-year-old pup, came to the ASPCA through its partnership with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in February of 2022 as part of a criminal investigation with a suspected knife wound to one of his hind legs.

While in the ASPCA’s care, Waggington had his wound repaired and was treated for an ear infection and upper respiratory infection.

He is a very social dog who is loved by everyone who meets him and he is ready to find his safe, loving home.

Fern, Lavender, and Link

Fern, Lavender and Link also came to the ASPCA through its partnership with the NYPD in January of 2022 as part of a criminal investigation.

Fern is an energetic two-year-old lady who steals the hearts of everyone she meets. While in the ASPCA’s care, Fern was treated for a skin infection which has healed beautifully.

Lavender is a sweet and social girl who is a little older than a year. She was mildly fearful when she first arrived at the ASPCA but has since become quite the social butterfly.

Link, an approximately five-year-old pup, is a social and confident dog who had a sparse hair coat and dental disease when he first arrived at the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center in New York City. Now that his hair coat is filling in and his teeth have been freshly cleaned and treated, he is ready to find a safe, loving home.

Upon arrival at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, ARL’s shelter medicine team continued care, giving each animal a thorough veterinary exam; the dogs have also received behavioral evaluations as well.

“I am extremely pleased that ARL is able to assist the ASPCA, a wonderful partner organization, with these animals who came from difficult situations,” stated Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL President and CEO. “Through this collaborative effort, these dogs will be able to find loving homes where they can thrive for years to come.”

A Growing Partnership

In 2021, ARL officially became a part of the ASPCA’s Relocation Program, which relocates dogs from shelters in areas with high homeless pet populations to “destination” shelters like ARL, where adoptable animals are in high demand.

Additionally, in early 2022, ARL received several dogs rescued by the ASPCA from a tornado-ravaged area in Kentucky and placed them into loving homes.

Rabbits Make Excellent Household Pets!

Info you can use for these cute and cuddly herbivores

From Rex to Angora to the French Lop, there are a wide variety of domestic rabbits, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) routinely has a large population of adoptable rabbits to choose from.

Rabbits make excellent pets!

Aside from being a great option for families living in smaller spaces, rabbits are incredibly clean, intelligent, friendly, and curious, making them fantastic pets!

Rabbit Basics

ARL believes that rabbits should always be housed indoors.

Your rabbit’s enclosure must be large enough to contain a litter box (yes, they can be litter box trained!), food bowls, a place to sleep, and enough room to explore and play.

Additionally, rabbits should experience at least three hours of out-of-enclosure time every day.

This allows rabbits more space to explore and play, and time for you to handle, work on training and cuddle up, which will strengthen the bond between you and your rabbit.

A Proper Diet

Rabbits need a variety of food in order to stay healthy, happy, and active.

The bulk of their diet should be high-quality fresh greens, with timothy hay provided at all times.

Pelleted rabbit food should used only as a supplement to the greens.

You’ll want to avoid alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets, as alfalfa is too high in protein.

And while we all associate rabbits with carrots, carrots and fruit should only be offered in moderation as occasional treats, as the sugar content can promote tooth decay and also lead to weight gain.


To keep you rabbit’s fur fluffy and mat-free, brushing should be a regular part of their out-of-enclosure time.

Keep in mind the frequency of brushing will depend on the length of your rabbit’s fur, and how well they groom themselves.

Brushing minimizes shedding, maintains a healthy coat, and aids in reducing hair ingestion.

Nail Trimming

Just like cats and dogs, rabbits need their nails trimmed carefully so as to not hit the blood vessels that run through the base of the nail (commonly called the “quick”).

Use a clipper designed specifically for pets, and nails should be trimmed every 3-4 weeks.

While trimming your rabbit’s nails, look for any urine staining on the paws, which is a sign the enclosure needing to be cleaned more regularly.

Oral Health

Rabbits need to have their mouths checked every few weeks for abscesses, as well as any abnormalities in their teeth.

Should you find any abnormalities, you’ll want to follow up with your regular veterinarian for a visit.

If your rabbit will not allow this type of handling, check for bad breath, drooling, eye or nasal issues, which are all signs of dental issues.

A proper diet will go a long way in promoting good oral health!

Litter Box

As previously mentioned, rabbits can be litter box trained!

Litter boxes designed for rabbits are available, but you can also use one made for cats.

Place a layer of hay on top of the litter, as this will entice the rabbit into the box to eat the hay and they often go to the bathroom and eat at the same time.

A second litter box is also recommended for use while your rabbit is exploring out of the enclosure.


Over time, you will get to know your own rabbit’s favorite games and what truly makes them happy, as well as what he/she is trying to communicate to you with specific behaviors.

Here are a few behavior-related tips:

    • Chewing – Rabbits teeth grow continuously; therefore, they need things to chew in order to keep their teeth filed down. They can also chew if they’re bored or stressed.
    • Digging – Burrowing and digging is fun for rabbits. Give your rabbit a box of hay, or even just a big blanket that they can dig into.
    • Napping – Rabbits are most active during the morning and evening. During the middle of the day, they tend to enjoy short naps with small amounts of activity in-between.
    • Grunting/Thumping – Grunting and thumping are ways that your rabbit is telling you they are frightened, angry, or annoyed. You’ll want to give your rabbit a little space if you see these behaviors.
    • Chinning – Sometimes your rabbit may rub their chin on your stuff. This is your rabbit’s way of getting his/her scent all over your things in order to claim it as their territory.
    • Nudging – At times, your rabbit may approach you and nudge you gently with their nose. This can either mean they would like to be pet, or that you are in their way.
    • Binky – When your rabbit is really happy and having fun, they may run around your house and randomly jump up in the air, kicking their legs and wiggling their bodies – it’s of course very cute and fun to watch!

Ready to Adopt?

If you think a rabbit would be a great addition to your home and family, ARL is here to help.

ARL’s three Animal Care and Adoption Center locations routinely have a number of rabbits who are waiting for their perfect match, and the Adoption Forward adoption process is a conversation-based, application-free process designed so that the needs of both the animal and the adopter are understood and compatible with one another.

Rabbit Brought to ARL with Lameness Improving, Looking for New Home

Ida, a 5-year-old female French Angora rabbit, was recently surrendered to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, and while stunning in appearance and a wonderful temperament, Ida also presented with rear-limb lameness.

Ida, a 5-year-old female French Angora rabbit.

Ida had difficulty moving, and according to her previous owner, she was kept in a small enclosure and that the condition had worsened over time.

ARL’s shelter medicine provided Ida with a thorough veterinary exam, including x-rays, to determine the underlying cause of her condition.

X-rays did not reveal any spinal fractures, but ARL’s veterinary team could not rule out spondylosis (arthritis of the spine), or intervertebral disc disease, a condition in which one or more of the discs between spinal vertebrae protrude and press on the spinal cord, causing neurologic deficits (including difficulty using back legs).

Because Ida was kept in a small enclosure, ARL’s shelter staff placed her in a large kennel, with ample space for Ida to move around, and allow her time out of her kennel in an even larger space for play time.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, Ida’s ability to move has improved, but it’s likely she will never regain full function of her hind limbs – it is worth noting that her hind-limb lameness does not cause her pain.

Looking for a Home

Ida has a wonderful personality, is very social and is great for handling.

Her new family will be encouraged to take Ida to her veterinarian for regular visits to formulate a course of treatment for her condition.

Read Ida’s full bio.

Caring for Rabbits

It’s important when adopting a rabbit or any small animal, to have a properly-sized enclosure – ARL does require a photo of the enclosure your rabbit will be living in before the adoption process is completed.

A proper enclosure allows the height and width for a litter box, food bowls, sleeping quarters, and open space to play, stand-up, and explore.

In addition to a proper enclosure, rabbits need time out of their enclosures every day.

This time gives the animal more space to play and explore, and allows you time to handle, play, work on training, snuggle – all of which strengthens the bond between you and your rabbit – and of course adds to the fun of having a rabbit as part of your family!

ARL is here to help and want you and your rabbit to thrive together. Our team can help you with all aspects of caring for small animals – from diet, environment, enrichment/training, and more!

It’s National Animal Poison Prevention Week!

As we celebrate spring, a number of activities usually define this time of year – cleaning, gardening, and social events that involve friends, family and food.

It is also National Animal Poison Prevention Week, a perfect time to inform pet owners and raise awareness to common household items that can be toxic or even fatal for our furry friends.


The ingredients to avoid in household cleaners are phenols – a parent compound used as a disinfectant. If the label says “disinfectant”, “antibacterial”, or “sanitizer”, chances are it contains phenolic compounds, which can be toxic to dogs and cats.

Keeping our pets safe means, reading labels to find pet-friendly products, diluting solutions, keeping pets out of rooms until surfaces are dry to the touch, and cleaning with care!


Spring means flowers, and lilies are a spring staple for many households. However, lilies of any variety can be extremely toxic for our pets, especially for cats. Daffodils, tulips, chrysanthemums, and hyacinths are also dangerous flowers for pets and should be avoided.

If you’re looking to jump start your outdoor garden or yard for the coming season, keep in mind that there are a number of pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals that are pet-friendly and should be utilized if your pets will be using the yard to frolic when the weather turns warmer.


Not feeding our pets from the table promotes good manners, but also promotes good health, as many of the foods we eat are toxic to our pets.

When it comes to food, it’s important to keep the following foods away from our pets:

    • If ingested in significant amounts it can cause stomach upset or even nervous system depression
    • Grapes and Raisins. Although it’s unknown what the toxic substance is, the fruit can cause kidney failure
    • Almonds, pecans, and walnuts contain high amounts of fat and can cause pancreatitis in pets
    • Onions and Garlic. These can cause gastrointestinal issues or even red blood cell damage
    • Salt and Salty Snacks. These foods produce excessive thirst and can lead to tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures or even death

Additionally, we all know that chocolate is a no-no, but there are plenty of other foods that are off the menu for pets. Along with chocolate, many foods contain the sweetener xylitol and if ingested, could lead to liver failure.

Remember, more often than not, if it’s on our menu, it shouldn’t be on theirs.

Poison Control

Fortunately, pet poison control hotlines are available and are ready to help.

This is a service that is offered by a number of microchip companies, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also has a poison control hotline, which can be reached at (888) 426-4435.

When you call a pet poison control hotline, the operator will gather information from you and depending on what they’ve ingested and symptoms they’re displaying, you will either treat at home, or bring your animal to a veterinarian for emergency treatment.

If it’s the latter, poison control will contact your veterinary office, relay the information, and a plan of treatment is in place and ready to go once you arrive.

Despite the safeguards we take, our pets are curious and sadly, thousands of pets are impacted by ingesting something poisonous every year. Remember, should you suspect your pet has gotten into something they shouldn’t have, take immediate action as every second counts!

ARL Continues Spay/Neuter Clinics with Massachusetts Animal Fund

Over the past several years, ARL’s Spay Waggin’ has been the focal point for a number of special clinics to deliver vital spay and neuter services to underserved communities, in partnership with the Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF).

Primarily the clinics have taken place in Fall River, MA, an area along the South Coast of Massachusetts with a severe lack of accessible and affordable spay/neuter services.

This week, ARL and MAF teamed up once again, but this time delivering services to two dozen pet owners in New Bedford, MA – another South Coast area hard hit by a lack of accessible and affordable spay/neuter services.

The surgeries for these special clinics 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 an incredibly high demand, many clinic clients had been on a waiting list for months and some upwards of a year to have their pets spayed or neutered.

These clinics give clients easy access to high-quality veterinary care, and the MAF vouchers remove the financial burden from pet owners who would otherwise be unable to afford the important procedure.

“I’ve been waiting for 8 months and was told there was a big demand but would be contacted and they reached about a month ago,” said Nicole Canfield, whose cat Jynx was spayed during the clinic. “It’s very important, and a giant help, my normal vet wanted over $300 just to fix her which I couldn’t afford on a fixed income.”

“My cat Midnight, – he’s year-and-a-half, and I needed to get him fixed,” said Spay Waggin’ client Brandi Mosher. “This program is great, I wouldn’t be able to get him fixed without it, I heard about this program through the animal control officer and am very grateful (for this service).”

ARL is slated to take part in clinics in both New Bedford and Fall River later this spring.

Making a difference since 2000

ARL’s Spay Waggin’ has been at the forefront of providing accessible and affordable high-quality spay/neuter services to the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod and the Islands since the program first hit the road in 2000.

Click here for more information and to book an appointment on the Spay Waggin’.

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.