Category: News
Community Cat and Kitten Season Is Here

The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer, and with spring upon us, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has begun to see an influx of community cats and kittens, and reminds the public that many of these animals deserve to live their lives in loving homes, not on the streets; and there are steps to take to ensure these cats and kittens are safe and healthy.

Community kittens recently brought into ARL.

Community cats – friendly strays, feral, semi-feral or abandoned – are incredibly resourceful and can be found in a variety of places — under decks, porches, in woodpiles, window wells, anywhere where they can find relative quiet – they’ve also been known to sneak into basements!

Should you spot two or 20 stray cats or kittens, ARL’s Field Services Department is ready to help.

Through ARL’s Community Cats Initiative, agents will assess a reported colony to determine the possible number of cats, their overall health status, and whether or not a local resident in the area is feeding the animals and can continue doing so.

Once the colony is assessed and staff checks for signs of ownership, a Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) plan is formulated to have the animals spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and determine whether the cats will be returned to the field, or placed up for adoption.

With an estimated 700,000 community cats in Massachusetts, TNR is one of the most effective ways to stop the cycle of homelessness among cats.

A limb deformity impacted Hanson’s long-term survivability in the wild.

Additionally, there are countless instances where getting a cat off the streets and into a loving home is literally a life-saving action.

Hanson’s Journey

Hanson, a one-year-old male community cat was recently brought into ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center.

While healthy overall, a limb deformity, likely a congenital defect, would’ve likely decreased his long-term survivability in the wild.

After a thorough medical exam, neuter surgery and seeing his warm and easy-going temperament, he was placed up for adoption.

Healthy Moms, Happy Litters

Additionally, if your cat or dog gives birth to a litter of kittens or puppies and you are looking for support, ARL has you covered.

Through the Healthy Moms, Happy Litters Program, ARL provides FREE spay and neuter services for the mother and father animals, who will be returned to the owner after surgery.

The litter will be spayed/neutered, and when they reach the appropriate age, placed up for adoption.

ARL Covid-19-Related Community Programs Continuing

Programs to continue as needed

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is marking the one-year anniversary of its S.A.F.E. (Serving Animals Facing Emergencies) program this month, which was created out of direct need following the initial surge of Covid-19 in Massachusetts.

Keeping pets and people together is more important than ever, and the S.A.F.E. programs makes this possible by providing critical services to pet owners in the Greater Boston community.

ARL Field Services providing services in April 2020.

The S.A.F.E. program utilized ARL’s Field Services Department’s fleet of vehicles to: transport animals to critical veterinary care visits on the Wellness Waggin’ (located on the Dedham Campus); deliver pet food and supplies to families in need; and provide pick-up services for animals in need of temporary housing or urgent surrender due to the pandemic.

In 2020, nearly 1,000 activities were completed with 620 animals receiving pet food and supplies, and 320 animals being transported for critical veterinary care.

A number of animals were taken in for temporary shelter, and ARL also received pets requiring emergency surrender.

Additionally, as many residents have continued to struggle financially and with Massachusetts eviction moratorium expiring in October 2020, ARL prepared for the very real possibility of countless families with pets losing their homes.

In late October, ARL unveiled its Temporary Pet Housing Initiative.

The initiative offers temporary pet housing for those who may be experiencing housing instability or may be at imminent risk of homelessness. This is an imperative service for individuals facing eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is open to any eligible pet owner in Massachusetts, and once eligibility is determined, the animals are able to stay within ARL’s foster care network for up to 120 days.

Since its inception, ARL has accepted nearly 200 additional foster families!

Both the S.A.F.E. program and the Temporary Housing Initiative continue to serve people and pets in need and will continue for as long as the services are needed to keep pets and pets together.

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week!

ARL Volunteers and Staff Honored

As we round out National Volunteer Appreciation Week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would once again like to thank all of our volunteers and foster families!

The week has been filled with virtual events and was capped by the annual awards ceremony to honor those who have gone above and beyond to help animals in need.

Without further ado, here are the winners for ARL’s Boston, Dedham and Cape Cod locations!

Best of Boston: Jane Urban of Newton

Cape’d Crusader: Terry Snow of Harwich

Dedham’s Most Dignified: Linda Palmer of Milton

ARL’s Unsung Hero: Margaret Ronna of Cambridge

All Other Creatures Big and Small: Denise Fritschy of Eastham and Tricia Patterson of Somerville

Admin’s Above and Beyond: Kelly Scott of Winthrop and Martha Donovan of Harwich

Our Four Footed Friends Favorite Foster Parent:  Cindy Glade of Harvard

In addition, volunteers at each location annual vote for a staff member who embodies ARL’s mission.

Boston: Julie Pearce

Cape Cod: Dawn Lee

Dedham: Alicia Muller

“Awards night is a special night as staff and volunteers come together to celebrate all the successes of the previous year, highlight both volunteers and staff who consistently go above and beyond, and to embrace and share the love we all have for the animals in our care,” said Debby Chaplic, ARL Associate Director of Volunteer Engagement.

Thank you to every ARL volunteer and foster family who donate their time and pour their hearts and souls into enriching the lives of the animals in ARL’s care – ARL volunteers are true champions for animals!

Why Volunteer?

First and foremost, nonprofit organizations like ARL simply could not have such a wide reach to help animals in need without volunteers. Volunteers are integral members of the ARL family.

But volunteering has benefits beyond caring and participating in such a worthwhile cause.

About 63 million people, or 25% of the U.S. population, donate their time and talents to worthy causes.

In addition to making a difference in the community, volunteering has been shown to improve a person’s health by increasing physical activity, enhancing your mood and decreasing stress.

Another bonus?  The majority of hiring managers nationally see volunteerism as an asset in candidates seeking employment.

If you are interested in volunteering at ARL, please click here for more information and THANK YOU!

Curbing Pet Anxiety as We Head Back to Work

Routine and Structure are Key to Ensure a Smooth Transition

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced shutdowns over a year ago, many pet owners began working from home and needed to help their pets adjust to them suddenly being home all the time. Now, as many start to head back into the office, pet owners must prepare their pets to once again be home alone.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) understands this will not be an easy process and wants to help pet owners guide their pets into this transition.

But preparing is a slow and gradual process that can’t be done in a day – it starts with understanding the causes of separation issues for our pets.

The top causes of separation-related problems are fear, frustration, boredom, or something health-related. Pets become frustrated if they don’t get enough of something or even too much of something.

Boredom can result if the pets are not being challenged or stimulated enough, and health-related issues such as allergies can cause anxiety or discomfort for pets and while pets cannot tell us what is causing their anxiety or discomfort, the behavior they exhibit is very telling in this regard.

Again, it’s critical to begin setting our pets up for success well before we head back to the office, and that includes taking care of our pets’ physical and mental well-being and focusing on training.

ARL offers these four tips to preparing your pet for a return to the office:

    1. Start slow! Even if you plan on going back into the office in six months, the earlier you get your pet into a routine, the easier the transition will be! Just as with humans, creating a routine alleviates stress of the unknown, and it’s no different for animals.
    2. Begin your routine by waking up at the same time each day. Keep mealtimes, walks, and playtime on a consistent schedule as well.
    3. If your dog is not crate trained consider doing so, begin offering them high-value treats and toys to use during independent playtime while inside their crate. Before long, your pet will learn that the crate can be their own personal safe and happy space, whether you are at home or not.
    4. Remember that repetition, patience, and rewarding calm behavior is key.

It’s also important to remember that as a pet owner, you’re not alone! ARL offers a FREE Pet Behavior Helpline to help tackle a number of behavioral issues.

The Helpline can be reached at (617) 226-5666 or by email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org. Once you reach out, an ARL representative will be in touch within 48 hours.

ARL also offers dog training classes at its Boston and Dedham location for basic and advanced canine learning, semi-private and private sessions are also available.

For more information, course schedules and pricing, visit arlboston.org/services/dog-training.

Press Release: 65+ Cats Signed Over to ARL Following Bond Order

Cats rescued by ARL on Martha’s Vineyard in July 2020

This past week, an ongoing animal cruelty case involving more than 65 cats and kittens who were rescued from a private breeding facility on Martha’s Vineyard in July 2020, took a major step forward, as the animals were officially signed over to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL).

While the defendant in the case maintains their right to contest the five counts of felony animal cruelty levied against them, ARL is now able to take steps to begin finding the cats permanent homes.

At this time there is no timeline for the cats to be made available for adoption, and those interested in adoption can log onto arlboston.org/adopt.

Since rescuing the cats in July 2020, the animals have received extensive medical care and have been living with foster families. The cost of care has exceeded tens of thousands of dollars, and the decision to surrender was made after a security bond was issued in the case.

In 2017, legislation was enacted in an effort to strengthen financial protections for animal care organizations like ARL, who is responsible for long-term care of animals related to active animal cruelty investigations or prosecutions. The legislation allows the prosecuting agency to request a court order for the accused to post a security bond, which can be used to recuperate costs of care. When granted, the accused has to either cover the bond or forfeit the animals.

This is the second time ARL has been granted a security bond request for an ongoing case.

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week!

Not that we need a reason to celebrate our amazing volunteers and foster families, but this week marks National Volunteer Appreciation Week!

Although ARL’s celebrations for the 800-plus volunteers will once again be virtual, it continues to be an honor to acknowledge those who make incredible contributions to help fulfill ARL’s mission.

The week will be broken up into several virtual events, highlighted by a kick-off celebration with ARL’s Boston, Dedham and Brewster volunteers, and of course ARL’s annual volunteer awards night.

A number of awards will be handed out to those who went above and beyond to help animals in need over the past year, and the ceremony, virtual or not, is an annual favorite for ARL volunteers and staff alike.

Volunteers are mission critical for ARL, whether serving as ambassadors for the organization, working with behaviorally-challenged animals, comforting a frightened cat or dog, changing litter boxes, or performing a myriad of other tasks – volunteers achieve countless selfless acts of kindness every day and ARL is grateful.

Compassion Cannot be Quarantined

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted day-to-day operations for ARL, which of course affected our volunteers.

Per safety protocols, just six volunteers were assigned to each shift during the past year, however, many volunteers who couldn’t come into the buildings decided to serve in another way – as foster parents.

When ARL suspended adoption services in March 2020, nearly 200 animals were placed into temporary foster care. Additionally, ARL began two Covid-19-related programs, both of which have fostering components.

So many volunteers graciously opened up their hearts and homes to these animals when they needed it most and ARL could not be more thankful.

Despite restrictions, ARL volunteers donated more than 63,000 hours of service – a 66 percent increase from 2019! This also is the equivalent to 30 full-time staff!

“I’m always proud of the incredible accomplishments of our volunteers, but 2020 offered such unprecedented circumstances and once again ARL volunteers, which of course includes our amazing foster families, stepped up and went above and beyond anything I could’ve imagined,” said Debby Chaplic, ARL Associate Director of Volunteer Engagement. “ARL’s volunteers are a shining light and true champions for animals in need.”

Stay tuned to see who our award winners are!

Why Volunteer?

First and foremost, nonprofit organizations like ARL simply could not have such a wide reach to help animals in need without volunteers. Volunteers are integral members of the ARL family.

But volunteering has benefits beyond caring and participating in such a worthwhile cause.

About 63 million people, or 25% of the U.S. population, donate their time and talents to worthy causes.

In addition to making a difference in the community, volunteering has been shown to improve a person’s health by increasing physical activity, enhancing your mood and decreasing stress.

Another bonus?  The majority of hiring managers nationally see volunteerism as an asset in candidates seeking employment.

Thank You

ARL is grateful to each and every volunteer who helps ARL fulfill its mission to be a Champion for Animals – we are all in this together and we cannot do it without you!

If you are interested in volunteering at ARL, please click here for more information and THANK YOU!

ARL Partners with HSUS for Law Enforcement Training

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department recently completed the second of two training sessions for animal control, veterinarians, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The training was a collaboration between ARL and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Topics included all aspects of equine investigation, and veterinary forensics in animal investigations.

“Properly collecting and documenting evidence is critical in any law enforcement investigation, and science and technology have come a long way in aiding investigative methods as well,” said Joe King, ARL Director of Law Enforcement. “There are so many tools we can use to help solve animal cruelty cases and these training courses will help shape investigations in Massachusetts going forward and we’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with a great organization like HSUS.”

Well over 100 animal control officers, veterinarians, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers attended the virtual sessions, which are the latest in a series of training that ARL has offered.

For ARL, training those on the front lines and often the first to respond is essential not only for rescuing animals suffering cruelty, neglect and abuse, but to also hold those responsible for harming animals to be held accountable.

Since 2019, ARL has conducted training sessions for more than 600 animal control officers and members of law enforcement.

About ARL Law Enforcement

As a leader in animal welfare, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is committed to preventing animal suffering, neglect, and abuse in Massachusetts.

Law Enforcement investigates crimes against animal cruelty, abuse, and neglect. ARL employs Special State Police Officers, with the authority to enforce animal cruelty and neglect laws. These officers work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and animal control officers throughout the Commonwealth.

In 2020, ARL’s Law Enforcement department helped 2,030 animals.

Although we work closely with the state, as well as many cities and towns, ARL does not receive any government or public funding and relies solely on the support of compassionate individuals like you. Donate now to help us continue our important work to serve animals and communities in need!

It’s National Animal Control Appreciation Week!

This week marks National Animal Control Appreciation Week, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to commend and thank Animal Control Officers (ACO) throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for their steadfast commitment to keeping animals in their respective communities safe.

ACO’s are on the front lines every day and are involved with a myriad of activities – from enforcing animal protection laws, caring for stray or injured animals, to simply giving advice to pet owners to improve the lives of animals.

ARL routinely collaborates with ACO’s from all over Massachusetts to assist in any way possible. Here are just a few recent examples of our collective efforts.

Abandoned Kittens in Bridgewater

Neonatal kitten.

When animal control in Bridgewater came across a triad of three-week-old kittens who had been abandoned after likely losing their mother, they reached out to ARL for assistance.

The neonatal kittens were taken to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center whey they were bottle-fed, and underwent veterinary examinations.

Kittens this age are unable to care for themselves and are also extremely delicate.  They need to be bottle-fed every few hours and require a ton of attention and care.

The kittens will remain in foster care until they are old enough to be made available for adoption.

Stray Roosters in Billerica

Albert Eggstein and Cocky Balboa.

ACOs commonly come across stray animals, and will often contact ARL to assist with shelter, transport, or medical treatment.

Such was the case for a pair of roosters recently found as strays in Billerica.

The roosters, named Albert Eggstein and Cocky Balboa, were wandering in the town north of Boston, and once the roosters were secure, they were transported to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care & Adoption Center and the roosters were soon right at home in the iconic red barn.

The pair were examined by ARL’s veterinary staff and are now currently available for adoption!

Providing Spay and Neuter in Fall River

Fall River ACO’s.

The importance of spay and neuter cannot be stressed enough. ARL is dedicated to helping pet owners break down the barriers that may prevent them from having their pets spayed or neutered.

The pricey surgery is a barrier for many, which is why, for more than 20 years, ARL’s Spay Waggin’ has provided high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services for communities along the South Shore, South Coast, Cape Cod and the Islands, and the Metro Boston area.

This week, ARL collaborated with ACO’s in Fall River and the Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF) to provide spay and neuter services for nearly two dozen pet owners – all at no cost.

This marks the third year that ARL and the MAF have hosted a spay/neuter clinic in Fall River, and we look forward to providing this important surgery for even more pets in this community in the future.

ARL is proud of its relationships with ACO’s throughout the Commonwealth and wants to thank everyone on the front lines for being a champion for animals!

ARL Expands Services to Fall River Community

Services include spay/neuter and community cats

For a third year in a row, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has partnered with the Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF) to bring vital spay and neuter services to the South Coast community of Fall River, this as ARL continues to expand services to the Fall River community.

ARL’s Spay Waggin’, a state-of-the-art mobile surgical unit, welcomed nearly two dozen animals for the surgeries, which were covered by the MAF’s voucher program, which distributes vouchers to qualifying low-income pet owners to cover the cost of the important procedure.

Due to high demand and Covid-19-restrictions, many clients had 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 able to provide this vital service.

Additionally, ARL’s Field Services Department was on-hand to distribute pet food to clients.

Community Cats

ARL has recently expanded its community cat initiative into the Fall River region as well.

There are approximately 700,000 community cats, which consist of stray, feral, and semi-feral cats, in Massachusetts.

Through the Community Cat Initiative, ARL will assess colonies, and formulate a trap-neuter-return (TNR) plan to provide spay/neuter, medical care, and also find homes for cats deemed suitable for adoption.

So far ARL has worked with more than dozen cats in the region, and as the weather warms, the number of cats in need of assistance is expected to drastically increase.

For residents concerned about community cats in their respective neighborhoods, they can reach ARL’s Field Services Department by calling 617-426-9170, then dial 1.

Spay Waggin’

ARL’s Spay Waggin’ provides high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services to animals in need on the South Shore, South Coast, Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as select locations in Metro Boston.

Since 2000 the Spay Waggin’ has provided services for more than 60,000 animals.

The Spay Waggin’ is by appointment only, and to for more information and to book an appointment, call (877) 590-SPAY (7729), or email spaywaggin@arlboston.org.

Investigating Animal “Blood Sports”

Recognizing National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

The ASPCA designated April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day  to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting. We encourage animal-lovers to take action against all blood sports, an extremely brutal form of cruelty.

What are “blood sports”? Blood sports are defined as an illegal sport or contest involving the bloodshed of animals for the purpose of gambling or entertainment, and include:

        • Dog fighting is a brutal sport or contest in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit/ring to fight one another for the purposes of entertainment and gambling. The fight ends when one dog can’t continue due to exhaustion, injury, or death. ASPCA experts estimate that there are tens of thousands of dog fighters across the country forcing hundreds of thousands of dogs to brutally train, fight, and suffer as part of a so-called “blood sport”.
        • Street fighting is an impromptu altercation between two dogs instigated by their respective owners or gangs in either a private location or common public gathering area, such as school yards, parks, or abandoned buildings. In some cases, the owner encourages their dog to attack a stray.
        • Cockfighting is a sport in which two gamecocks (roosters), specifically bred for aggressiveness, are placed in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. Owners often will inject doses of stimulant drugs, hormones, or vitamins to increase endurance and attach knives to the gamecocks’ legs.
        • Finch fighting is a sport between two male and one female perched birds that has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. Owners typically attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure the female finch’s demise.

Our Law Enforcement team works with animal control officers to identify signs of blood sports. Here are 3 common warning signs:

        1. Dogs kept on short heavy chains or tethered to makeshift dog houses
        2. Several crates, tethering devices, and specialized aerobic training equipment such as treadmills kept in basements and sheds
        3. Dogs with lots of scaring around the face, neck, front legs and chest

Whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban neighborhood, animal “blood sports” happens in all types of areas across the country, including Massachusetts.

Blood sports are a major concern for public safety as it’s often linked with gang activity and other serious crimes such as human assault, homicide, drug possession/distribution, and illegal gambling.

Based on the ARL Law Enforcement team’s experience, building an effective legal case against this type of crime is complicated, due to the multitude of individuals, groups, and gangs that can be involved. Fighting animals – especially dogs – are bred in Massachusetts and transported to other states to fight, making it very difficult to track the activity.

Read Turtle’s Story: From Bait Dog to Therapy Dog and Lobbyist

How can communities prevent blood sports from happening?

        1. Animal control officers and humane investigators focus on breaking up an animal fighting enterprise and immediately remove animals from the situation.
        2. You can help raise awareness and encourage intervention; both are critical to preventing this type of crime before it occurs

We ALL have a role to play in prevention. Report suspicions of animal cruelty and learn more about what you can do at arlboston.org/take-action.