Category: Law Enforcement
Press Release: Hanson Man Arrested on Federal Dogfighting Charges

Operation resulted in the seizure of several pit bull-type dogs

Below is a press release provided by the United States Attorney’s Office — District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A Hanson man was arrested today for allegedly possessing dogs at his Massachusetts home for participation in a dogfighting venture.

John Murphy, 50, was indicted on nine counts of possessing animals for use in an animal fighting venture, in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Murphy will appear in federal court in Boston at 10:45 a.m. today.

According to the indictment, Murphy possessed numerous items associated with possessing dogs for participation in an animal fighting venture at his residence in Hanson, Mass., including: intravenous infusion equipment; syringes; antibiotics; injectable anabolic steroids; injectable corticosteroids; a skin stapler; forceps; equipment used to train dogs, including a treadmill, a slat mill, a carpet mill, and a flirt pole; dog training and fighting literature; a hanging digital scale used to weigh dogs for matches; written training regimens; break sticks, used to separate fighting dogs; and a breeding stand used to immobilize female dogs during breeding to prevent harm while mating.

The United States also filed a civil forfeiture complaint against 13 pit bull-type dogs, seized in June 2023 from Murphy’s residence and another residence in Townsend, Mass. As alleged in the civil forfeiture complaint, several of the seized dogs had evidence of scarring. The dogs are currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) being cared for by a USMS-contractor. Pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act, animals involved in violations of 7 U.S.C. § 2156 are subject to forfeiture to the United States.

At both locations where the dogs were seized, as alleged in the civil forfeiture complaint, the following items commonly associated with an illegal dogfighting operation were found: training equipment; veterinary supplies; dog fighting literature, DVDs, and/or CD-ROMs; kennels used to house dogs individually;  and break sticks, which dogfighters use to force open a dog’s bite onto another dog’s body, specifically at the termination of a fight or while training.

The civil forfeiture complaint also alleges that Murphy communicated with other dogfighters via Facebook where they discussed the results of dogfights, injuries sustained by fighting dogs, as well as breeding dogs. It is alleged that Murphy also belonged to private dogfighting Facebook groups used to share fight results, buy and sell fighting dogs and exchange information on training and conditioning fighting dogs, among other things.

It is further alleged that Murphy’s Facebook accounts contained a photo of a pit bull-type dog with scarring and discolorations on its head and leg consistent with that of dogfighting, a photo of a pit bull-type dog restrained in a breeding stand, and videos that depicted pit bull-type dogs physically tethered to treadmill-like-devices commonly used to physically condition dogs in preparation for a dogfight. One video allegedly depicted what appears to be live bait placed at the end of the mill to entice the pit bull-type dog to run faster and harder.

To report animal fighting crimes, please contact your local law enforcement or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General complaint hotline at: https://usdaoig.oversight.gov/hotline or 1-800-424-9121.

The charges of possessing animals for use in an animal fighting venture each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Christopher P. Robinson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region; John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; and Joseph F. King, Director of the Animal Rescue League of Boston – Law Enforcement Division made the announcement today.

Valuable assistance was provided by Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; U.S. Marshals Service; Maine State Police; New Hampshire State Police; Massachusetts Office of the State Auditor; Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; and the Hanson, Boston, and Acton Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danial E. Bennett and Kaitlin J. Brown of the Worcester Branch Office and Trial Attorney Matthew T. Morris of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), Environmental Crimes Section, are prosecuting the case. Carol E. Head, Chief of the Asset Recovery Unit for the District of Massachusetts, and Trial Attorney Caitlyn F. Cook of ENRD’s Wildlife and Marine Resources Section are prosecuting the civil forfeiture case.

The details contained in the charging documents and civil forfeiture complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The United States must establish that the dogs are subject to forfeiture by a preponderance of the evidence.

ARL Law Enforcement Assisting Malden PD in Abandoned Dog Case

Abandoned dog with 13-pound tumor found tied to pole in park

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department is assisting Malden Police and Animal Control in a case of an abandoned dog, where the animal required immediate medical attention, but is thankfully on the road to recovery.

The 5-to-7-year-old Mastiff, now named Big Momma, was found tied to a pole in Trafton Park on a cold and wet night in mid-December 2023.

She was found by a Good Samaritan who discovered the animal after hearing whimpering, then brought the scared, cold, and hungry dog to the Malden Police Department.

Big Momma had a very large mass on her underbelly, and Malden Animal Control Officer Kevin Alkins took steps to get the dog immediate veterinary care at the Blue Pearl Vet Hospital in Charlestown.

The 13-pound tumor was removed and testing revealed the mass to be benign.

Big Momma then went into the care of Bill Bowdridge, owner of Big Daddy Doggie Daycare in Malden, to begin her recovery process.

This is being considered a case of animal neglect and abandonment, and ARL Law Enforcement and Malden Police are asking anyone with information on where this dog may have come from to come forward.

The public can contact ARL Law Enforcement by calling (617) 426-9170 x110 or emailing cruelty@arlboston.org, or Malden Police at (781) 397-7171 with any pertinent information regarding this case.

Abandonment Never an Option

ARL understands that an animal with a medical condition may be a frightening or costly situation, however, the organization reminds the public that abandoning an animal is never an option.

When an animal is left to fend for themselves, they become vulnerable to many dangers that may result in illness, injury or even death.

There are resources available to pet owners, and ARL recommends pet owners to reach out to their local animal control or animal welfare organization to see what assistance or options are available.

ARL Hosts Suffolk County District Attorney for Announcement of Animal Cruelty Task Force

Task force created to tackle a rise in animal cruelty cases

This week the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was honored to host the Suffolk County District Attorney, state and local law enforcement officers, and other animal welfare groups for the announcement of the creation of an animal cruelty task force, which aims to coordinate law enforcement efforts to fight animal cruelty.

It is the first such task force in the county.

The announcement was made at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, and Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden was stern and steadfast in his office’s commitment to assisting law enforcement in confronting animal cruelty head-on.

“This task force will be designed to address our ability to more effectively investigate animal cruelty cases, to make sure that we’re employing intervention and prevention strategies to prevent animal cruelty cases from happening in the first place, and to hold people accountable for instances of animal cruelty whenever necessary,” DA Hayden stated.

ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino also addressed the throng of media in attendance, praising the creation of the task force, which will create a more streamlined investigative approach among the law enforcement community and preventing animal cruelty before it starts.

“It’s really about providing the resources we already have to keep pets and people together in their homes, that is critical,” stated Dr. Schettino. “We don’t want to take pets from people.”

Cruelty cases are on the rise, as in the last five years alone, ARL has received more than 4,200 calls of suspected animal cruelty, and has helped nearly 12,000 animals.

Along with improving collaborative law enforcement animal cruelty investigation, the task force will also identify and target legislation that will protect animals not just in Suffolk County, but throughout the state.

“We want people to know that we are working together, that we are unified, that we are collaborating and that we are working together in the best interest of obviously pets and animals that have been neglected, but also for society as a whole,” Hayden said.

ARL is thrilled and honored to be a part of this newly formed task force, and look forward to implementing measures to prevent animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse, but to also hold those accountable who harm and jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of an animal.

Former Severely Emaciated Dog Ready to Find Forever Home

Emaciated Dog gained 22 pounds in foster care

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is thrilled to announce that a now formerly severely emaciated dog that was found as a stray in August has reached a healthy weight and is now ready to find his new home — just in time for the holidays.

The one-year-old dog, now named Dobby, was reportedly found as a stray in the area of Franklin Park in Dorchester in mid-August, and was brought to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center for care.

Upon arrival at ARL, he weighed just 37 pounds, scoring a 1 out of 9 on the body condition score chart which represents the highest level of emaciation with ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all bony prominences evident from a distance, no discernible body fat and obvious loss of muscle mass.

Additionally, Dobby’s fur was urine-stained, presented with mild dental disease, and he also had a number of pressure sores, indicating that he had been kept confined to a small space.

Dobby went to foster care and placed on a strict refeeding plan to ensure safe and slow weight gain.

Over the past several months he has put on 22 pounds and is now at a stable enough weight to be made available for adoption!

Despite everything he has gone through, Dobby has defined resilience and strength and is a shining example of the work that ARL does every day of the year to help animals in need.

Dobby’s has won the hearts of so many at ARL with his sweet and loving demeanor and is sure to be an amazing pet.

See Dobby’s profile on ARL’s adoptable animals page!

Dobby’s case remains an ongoing investigation by ARL’s Law Enforcement Department.

You can give animals like Dobby the greatest gift of all: hope.

When Dobby arrived, he was so thin you could count his ribs. His fur was stained and he was covered in sores, signs he was likely confined to a small space for a long time.

Dobby’s worst days may be behind him, but he is still counting on you to help him find a home of his own!

Your donation today can make sure animals like him have everything the need to find a home for the holidays!

Severely Emaciated Dog in Care of ARL

Emaciated dog making progress, ARL Law Enforcement investigating case of animal cruelty

While a severely emaciated dog currently in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is making progress, ARL’s Law Enforcement Department is investigating this case of starvation and gross neglect and is asking the public for any information which could lead to charges and subsequent prosecution for animal cruelty.

The approximately one-year-old dog, now named Dobby, was reportedly found as a stray in the area of Franklin Park in Dorchester in mid-August, and was transported to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center for care.

Upon arrival at ARL, he received a thorough veterinary exam and the greatest concern surrounding his condition was the extreme level of emaciation.

Weighing just 37 pounds, he scored a 1 out of 9 on the body condition score chart which represents the highest level of emaciation with ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all bony prominences evident from a distance, no discernible body fat and obvious loss of muscle mass.

Additionally, Dobby’s fur was urine-stained, presented with mild dental disease, and he also had a number of pressure sores, indicating that he had been kept confined to a small space.

Dobby was placed on a refeeding plan, and while he initially lost weight, he is now trending in the right direction weighing approximately 40 pounds, and continuing to make progress.

Despite his condition, Dobby knows he is in a safe and caring environment and personifies resilience and strength, as he has been incredibly friendly and receptive to attention from ARL staff.

He will be heading into foster care soon and it’s important to note that due to his condition he is not currently available for adoption.

ARL Law Enforcement asks that anyone with information pertaining to this case to call (617) 426-9170 x110 or email cruelty@arlboston.org

ARL Law Enforcement Participates in Important Training Sessions

ARL Law Enforcement offers vital training for local, state, and federal law enforcement

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department recently hosted and participated in two important training sessions involving animal control officers, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the next generation of Massachusetts State Police Troopers.

ARL Hosts HSUS for Court Procedure Training

This past month, the Rabe Family Education and Training Center at ARL’s Dedham Campus hosted a special training in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), to educate animal control officers, veterinarians, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels.

The training focused on testifying about animal crimes in a courtroom setting, which can present a unique set of challenges for law enforcement.

The four-hour training session focused on special considerations for cases related to intimate partner violence, how to effectively work with witnesses and utilizing experts, and how to effectively navigate cross-examination.

The training session involved more than 100 participants, and organizers were thrilled with the turnout, highlighting that the training will result in future success in cases involving animal cruelty and related crimes.

“There’s a lot of cases that don’t necessarily get the full attention they deserve,” said HSUS Law Enforcement Trainer Erin Aiello. “By training ACO’s so they can take it all the way, having them understand what prosecutors are looking for, what’s important at trial, the importance of them to a judge and a jury, really can make sure these cases are being seen and being valued all the way through the process.”

ARL Law Enforcement and Advocacy Visit MSP Academy

For the past several years, ARL has had the privilege to present to State Trooper cadets at the Massachusetts State Police Academy, and representative from ARL’s Law Enforcement and Advocacy Departments were once again tabbed recently to address the 88th Recruit Training Troop.

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 Troopers, and look forward to continuing this collaborative effort with the Massachusetts State Police.

ARL Law Enforcement Investigating Abandoned Cat Rescued on Fisher College Campus

ARL seeks public assistance as new image shows moment cat was abandoned on Beacon Street

 The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department is currently investigating after an abandoned cat was rescued by Fisher College police after someone took the animal out of a vehicle in its pet carrier and dumped it on college property, which is located along Beacon Street in Boston.

The incident is being investigated as a case of animal cruelty and the ARL is seeking the public’s help in identifying the person believed to be responsible.

Local news coverage of this incident.

The two-year-old male cat, now named Fish, received a thorough veterinary exam upon arrival at ARL, and was found to be in good health, with no obvious signs of abuse or neglect.

However, surveillance video of the incident demonstrates the willful abandonment of the animal, which is illegal under Massachusetts’ animal cruelty statute Ch. 272 S.77 and is punishable by up to seven years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Fish has been neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and will soon be made available for adoption to start the next chapter of his life.

ARL wishes to thank Fisher College Police as well as the maintenance employee who found and reported the incident in an urgent manner.

Given the busy city surroundings, if Fish was not found in a timely fashion, he would have been at tremendous risk of injury or death.

Case Background

On April 4, 2023, a Fisher College Maintenance staff member notified Fisher College Police about the discovery of a box that contained one adult cat.

The box was identified as a cardboard cat carrier, and soon after Fisher College Police notified ARL Law Enforcement for assistance.

ARL Law Enforcement responded to the scene, and the cat was transported to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center for treatment and care.

Surveillance video shows what is believed to be a white male, wearing orange gloves, dark jacket, and a baseball hat park in front of the college campus on Beacon Street.

The suspect then removes the carrier from the back of the vehicle, throwing it on the ground before getting back in the vehicle and driving off towards the direction of Storrow Drive.

The vehicle is described as a grey or tan 4-door hatchback.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact ARL Law Enforcement at (617) 426-9170 x110, or by emailing cruelty@arlboston.org.

Press Release: ARL Law Enforcement Removes 18 Dogs from Unsanitary Conditions

Majority of the dogs living in unsanitary conditions emaciated, animal cruelty charges filed

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department, with assistance from Malden Police and Animal Control recently executed a search warrant at a Malden residence to remove 18 dogs, a number of which are emaciated, that were living in unsanitary conditions.

The operation to remove the animals from the home in Malden took place on Friday, December 2, and involved ARL Law Enforcement, Malden Police and Animal Control; the Malden Fire Department was also on-scene for a brief time.

Once removed from the home, the majority of the dogs were transported to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, while several needed additional care and were taken to an emergency animal facility to receive 24-hour care.

Those dogs have since been transported to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center and are receiving ongoing treatment.

Along with living in unsanitary conditions, nearly half the animals are considered emaciated, and the majority of the dogs are extremely undergroomed, with overgrown nails, matted fur, fur loss, and moderate to severe dental disease.

The underweight animals are now on refeeding plans to ensure they gain weight slowly and safely.

While recovering, the majority of the animals will spend time in foster care where they will have a quiet and comforting environment to recover.

ARL Law Enforcement has filed 18 counts of animal cruelty (M.G.L. ch.272, s.77), along with 18 counts of violation of the state’s tethering and confinement statute (M.G.L. ch.140, s.174E) against Jennifer Ahn, of Malden.

ARL wishes to thank Malden Police and Animal Control, along with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance with this situation.

This work cannot be done alone and animals urgently need your help now.

Your emergency gift today can support:

  • Veterinary care and rehabilitation for the sudden influx of animals that have suffered the trauma of neglect
  • Ongoing investigations of cruelty to pursue justice for animals
  • Emergency response when crisis strikes and animals are in dire need

Make a donation today.

Dog Who Suffered Severe Burns Overcomes Trauma to Find Her Home for the Holidays

“Annie” still recovering from severe burns, adopted by her foster family

You may remember the story of Annie, a one-year-old mixed-breed dog that was found abandoned in Norwood, MA, in late August and had suffered second-degree burns to 20 percent of her body.

In the past four months, she has redefined perseverance.

In Need of Help

Annie was discovered along Route 1 in Norwood, wearing a collar and leash, but with no identification, and was not microchipped.

She was taken to the Norwood Police Department, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department was contacted. She was then transferred to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The burns covering her head, neck, shoulders, abdomen, and front limbs were extremely painful, and the ARL shelter medicine team’s first priority was to help manage her pain and provide treatment for the wounds.

Initially Annie’s situation was critical and given the severity of the burns and the pain level, she was transferred to Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment & Specialties (Tufts VETS) in Walpole, MA, for several days to receive intensive 24-hour care and pain management.

Ongoing Care and Foster

Once the young dog was stabilized, she began the next phase of her recovery and over the next two months she would undergo comprehensive and sometimes painful procedures to aid in the healing process of the burns.

Over time her pain was greatly reduced, and her fur also began to grow back, however, the physical scars of the trauma she suffered will likely be noticeable for the rest of her life.

Annie was also placed into foster care to give her a quiet and comfortable environment to heal.

Finding Her Home for the Holidays

Annie’s foster home was the perfect environment for her.

Her foster family offered the support and love she needed during her recovery, and in the process became bonded with the young dog.

In the fall the family decided that Annie had found her family and her new home, and officially adopted her!

While she continues to heal from her ordeal, she is ready to begin the next chapter of her life.

She is thriving and is overjoyed to be spending the holidays with her new family and ARL could not be happier for this outcome!

How You Can Help Animals Like Annie

For all of us, and especially for animals in need, this has been a trying time. Soaring inflation has made our work much more difficult and strained our limited resources.

ARL cannot respond in times of crisis without you – and the need has never been greater.

Your generous year-end gift will ensure that animals in need can get the care they count on including, food, sanctuary, medical care, love, and emergency rescue if they are in danger.


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.