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Category: Rescue
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.


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.


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.


Non-Native Lizard Hitchhikes from Florida to Massachusetts

Finders brought lizard to ARL Brewster Facility

Recently, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center took in a curious, non-native lizard that decided to hit the road and had hitchhiked its way from Florida to Massachusetts.

To see local media coverage of this story click here!

This curious lizard took a little road trip and wound up at ARL!

The person who brought the lizard to ARL stated that the reptile had somehow gotten into the interior of the vehicle when leaving Florida and was discovered upon arrival in Massachusetts.

The lizard, described as a Brown Anole, is native to Florida and abundant in the Sunshine State, but a non-native species to Massachusetts — the lizard was transported to a reptile rescue organization in Connecticut to receive care and be rehomed.

ARL commends the actions of the lizard’s finder and reminds the pubic that non-native species should never be released into the wild, as they can create vast ecological problems.

Any non-native species should be taken to a rescue organization like ARL where they will receive the care they need.


A Friendship Forged Under Quarantine

For Ollie and Holly, they came from different areas, different situations, but fate (and a four-month quarantine) brought these two kitty friends together, and now the pair are set to spend the rest of their lives in the same home.

Five-year-old Ollie came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) in November 2020 after he was stuck in a tree in Weymouth for five days.

When ARL’s Field Services Department went to rescue him, neighbors indicated he had been in the area for several months and that the neighborhood kids nicknamed him Oliver (Ollie) – the name stuck.

Ollie was transported to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, and because his veterinary exam revealed several puncture wounds of unknown origin, the former stray would need to undergo a state-mandated four-month-quarantine.

For Holly, she also came to ARL in November 2020 after being found as a stray in the North Dartmouth area. Along with being a little underweight, she had suffered wounds to her legs, and like Ollie, was required to spend the next four months in quarantine.

When Ollie Met Holly

Upon arrival at ARL, Holly was friendly but nervous, especially around new people – she did however enjoy being around other cats.

Ollie on the other hand was incredibly friendly upon arrival, saying hello to anyone who would pay him attention. When it came to other cats however, Ollie was not interested – until he met Holly.

The two were placed in an office so they could have more space to stretch out and interact with people during their quarantine period, and for Ollie, he quickly became interested in Holly.

The pair would play and were often seen napping together, and even eating together! With Ollie’s help, Holly slowly began to come out of her shell and be more social with people.

Going Home

Given the bond forged during their four-months in quarantine, it was decided that the former community cats should find their new home together.

It didn’t take long, just days after being made available for adoption they found their perfect match and are now enjoying their new surroundings – together.

ARL Community Cat Initiative

With approximately 700,000 community cats living throughout Massachusetts, ARL launched its Community Cat Initiative in 2018, and has already helped thousands of these animals in a variety of ways.

For more information about the initiative click here.

ARL Field Services

ARL Field Services provides technical and non-technical rescue operations for injured or lost domestic animals, livestock, and raptors (turkey vultures, osprey, hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls).

ARL Field Services also assists governmental agencies with equipment and training; and plays an essential role in assisting ARL Law Enforcement in cases of animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse.

If you need assistance, call (617) 426-9170 to reach ARL Field Services dispatch, which operates from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM Tuesday-Saturday.


Stray Cat Found Under Porch Finds Perfect Match

Community Post Leads to Rescue

A home owner in Newton, MA, recently noticed a 13-week-old kitten seeking shelter under her house, and turned to a community forum website in an effort to find his owner.

The kitten was under the porch for seven days and when no one claimed ownership, an Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) volunteer reached out to help get him off the streets.

After privately messaging the home owner, the volunteer sprang into action by responding to the home and with the help of another dedicated volunteer, was able to trap the kitten within 10 minutes and transport him to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Newton was given a thorough veterinary examination when he arrived at ARL, and it was clear that he had been on his own for a little bit.

The kitten was malnourished and underweight, his abdomen was distended, and ARL’s shelter medicine staff also detected a heart murmur.

Following his examination he was placed into foster care to rest and recuperate in a quiet, stress-free environment.

Newton spent a week in foster care, and after being neutered and reexamined, he found his way into the perfect home!

Volunteer for Animals in Need

ARL volunteers are at the core of fulfilling the mission to be an unwavering champion for animals in need.

ARL’s 840 dedicated volunteers donated more than 63,000 hours of their time in 2020!

Additionally, ARL’s 435 foster families took in nearly 850 animals in 2020, giving them the opportunity to spend time outside of the shelter environment, and in Newton’s case, recover from injury or illness in a quiet, loving space.

We are so grateful to all of our volunteers, and if you are interested in giving back for animals in need, click here to see what opportunities are available!


Spay Waggin’ Treats Ill Community Kitten

Kitten needed eye removed due to severe infection

During a recent scheduled stop along the South Coast for the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’, an 11-month-old community kitten from Westport, MA, came in to be neutered and was slated to be returned to the field.

However, this kitten needed additional veterinary care due to a severe upper respiratory infection.

The infection had impacted one of his eyes to the point of rupture, meaning he would need the infected eye removed.

ARL agreed to take over his care and he was transferred to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption center where the neuter and enucleation surgeries were performed.

As with every community cat that comes into ARL, the kitten, now named Mike Wazowski in honor of a character from the Pixar movie Monsters Inc., was assessed behaviorally to determine if he was to be returned to the field or put up for adoption.

Mike was social almost immediately, and his playful personality quickly won over staff and volunteers alike.

The resilient 11-month-old kitten recovered quickly from his surgeries and less than two weeks after coming to the Spay Waggin’, Mike found his perfect match and is loving his new home!

Spread the Love to Help Animals Like Mike All Year Long!

During the month of February, as many celebrate love and affection, ARL is Spreading the Love to highlight the love we share for our furry and feathered friends!

Animals like Mike give us so much. They provide comfort, happiness, and, of course, love. And animals have been a huge support for so many during these difficult months.

Here are 3 way to join us and Spread the Love:

  1. Express your love for animals by making a gift 
  2. Make a gift in honor of a love one and send a special Valentine’s Day message with an eCard or a mailed card
  3. Become a Champions Circle member and help animals in need all year long

ARL’s Champions Circle is a special group of 800+ dedicated individuals who provide support in the form of recurring (usually monthly) donors. Their generosity provides the critical support to keep animals safe and healthy all year long.

If you’re interested in joining this select group, use our secure online form or call Derek at (617) 226-5662 to set up your gift over the phone.


Warm November/December May Result in Outdoor Kitten Surge

Outdoor kitten rate of survival low when temperatures drop

With November and December being relatively mild, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is expecting to see a rapid increase in the number of kittens being born outside, which may unfortunately lead to many fatalities in the harsh New England winter temperatures.

Survival rates for kittens born during the cold winter months is very low, and ARL is urging the public to take action if they become aware of kittens being born in or around their property.

Kittens just after coming into ARL.

ARL’s Field Services Department works extensively with community cats and can be reached by calling (617) 426-9170, option 1.

The winter months are, in general, difficult for community cats. However, adult community cats are resilient, able to forage for food and have the cunning ability to find a warm, dry place to be protected from the elements.

On the other hand, kittens, particularly under six-weeks-old, are unable to care for themselves, and lack the body fat and adaptive skills to survive the extreme cold.

Additionally, mothers of kittens may succumb to disease or an unfortunate accident, making the kittens orphans. The public should never remove, but always leave kittens with their mother and contact ARL for assistance.

It’s imperative to get these helpless kittens off the streets.

When ARL Field Services is contacted, the team will assess the site to determine whether the animals are in danger, and if so will remove them, along with their mother.

The kittens will then be transferred to an ARL Animal Care and Adoption Center for a veterinary exam, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and finally find them a loving forever home.

The mother cat will be vaccinated, spayed, and behaviorally assessed to determine whether they are adoptable or should be returned to the field.


ARL Assists Weymouth PD to Rescue 31 Dogs from Overcrowding Situation

This past week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department assisted Weymouth Police and Animal Control in rescuing more than two dozen dogs from an overcrowding situation at a private residence.

In all, 31 Chihuahua-type dogs were removed from the home during the operation that involved ARL Law Enforcement and Field Services, Weymouth Police and Animal Control, and Animal Control Officers from Scituate, Braintree, and Cohasset.

ARL took in 21 of the dogs, while the remaining animals were transferred to another animal welfare organization on the South Shore.

The animals were removed due to unsanitary conditions, which it typically a byproduct of overcrowding.

One of the dogs needed emergency care and was immediately transferred from the residence to a nearby animal hospital.

The remaining 20 dogs were brought to ARL’s Dedham and Boston Animal Care and Adoption Centers and have received thorough veterinary exams.

Several of the dogs were diagnosed with heart murmurs and dental disease, and the majority will be available for adoption later in the week.

ARL urges the public to reach out to their local animal control or ARL Law Enforcement (617-426-9170 x110, or cruelty@arlboston.org) should they know of an overcrowding situation.

Overcrowding can lead to serious health concerns not only for the animals, but for people living among the animals as well. Additionally, overcrowding often leads to under-socialized animals, creating ongoing behavioral issues, particularly for older animals.

ARL Law Enforcement also wishes to thank and commend Weymouth Police and Animal Control for their steadfast commitment to the safety and wellbeing of these animals, and for allowing ARL to assist in this operation.

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

Our hearts ache to know that animals are suffering and we know yours does too. Your support today can mean the difference between hope and despair for an animal in need.

Your emergency gift today can support:

  • Veterinary care and rehabilitation for the sudden influx of animals that have suffered the trauma of neglect
  • On-going investigations of cruelty to protect vulnerable animals
  • Emergency response when crisis strikes and animals are in dire need

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USPS Mail Carrier Delivers Support for Stray Cat

Mail carrier built outdoor shelter, contacted ARL to rescue and rehome

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to acknowledge an incredible act of kindness that took place amid the holiday delivery rush in early December.

While delivering mail, a compassionate, yet anonymous, United States Postal Service mail carrier in Cambridge, MA, went above and beyond their duties to deliver special support for a friendly stray in the Jackson Circle area.

The mail carrier was not only feeding the cat, later named Jackson, but had also constructed a cardboard shelter to help protect the animal from the elements.

As temperatures dipped and winter began to take hold, showing great concern for Jackson, the mail carrier contacted ARL’s Field Services Department to rescue the cat from a life on the streets.

Jackson, who’s estimated to be eight-years-old, was extremely friendly when approached by ARL Field Services staff, and was brought to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

A thorough veterinary exam revealed extensive dental disease, to the point where all but one of Jackson’s canines were cracked down to the root.

Additionally Jackson had a number of abrasions, and tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, which cannot be transmitted to humans but can be spread via bite wounds between cats. It should be noted that cats who test positive for FIV do go on to lead normal and healthy lives.

ARL shelter medicine staff performed a deep dental cleaning on Jackson, and because of the severity of his dental disease, 10 teeth needed to be extracted.

After recovering from his medical procedures, Jackson quickly found his forever home just in time for the holidays, and is thriving in his new environment under a new name – Teddy!

ARL is grateful to this anonymous mail carrier and their incredible act of compassion and kindness to not only look after Jackson but to make sure he didn’t have to spend another winter on the tough streets of Boston.