Important Information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The threat of COVID-19 has generated understandable concerns in our community. The health, safety, and well-being of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) clients, donors, community partners, staff, volunteers – and all of the animals in our care – is our top priority.


Effective immediately, ARL is taking the necessary steps to do what we can today to protect against the spread of COVID-19, so that we can prepare for what the animals and people in our community may need from us in the coming weeks.

As the situation evolves, we will be phasing in additional measures to protect our clients and animal caregivers, so please continue to check this page on a daily basis for the most current ARL updates.

Please note the following changes in ARL’s protocols and operations:

Advancing cleaning and hygiene protocols

Using the protocols we already have in place for animals, ARL has increased cleaning and disinfecting areas of our buildings visited by the public, in compliance with CDC and WHO guidelines. Staff and volunteers are being asked to practice good personal health hygiene, and are being provided with hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies.

We ask that clients who are feeling ill, have traveled overseas during the last two weeks, or have been in close contact with someone who might be infected with COVID-19, refrain from visiting ARL Animal Care and Adoption Centers and programs and Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) at this time. If you are a BVC client and would like to reschedule your appointment, please call (617) 226-5605.

Going virtual and social distancing

Critical operations staff, including Animal Care and Veterinary teams, will continue to provide essential care, medical attention, and behavior/enrichment for the animals in our Adoption Centers. Staff, whose job allows, will utilize technology to work remotely, and all internal and external meetings will be conducted virtually, as is feasible. Volunteers will be reduced to continue critical animal care operations only. All ARL-hosted events, including Volunteer Appreciation, have been postponed until after May 1st.

Changes in ARL operations

Until further notice, the following changes to ARL’s programs and services are effective immediately:

Animal Care & Adoption Centers
will be closed to the public, and animal adoptions will not be offered at this time.

At this time, we are unable to accept bedding or other “soft goods”, or in-person supply drop-offs at our Animal Care and Adoption Centers.  However, you can still send much needed animal supplies through Amazon shelter wish lists for BostonDedham, and Brewster.  

Animal Admissions
surrenders will be restricted to emergencies only, beginning March 17th.

Animal Advocacy
nnounced that the Virtual Day of Action for Animals webinar, scheduled for March 24th, has been postponed. We hope to reschedule before the legislative session ends on July 31st.

Boston Veterinary Care

*NEW* Boston Veterinary Care is excited to offer telemedicine to our clients!

In order to provide our clients with critical veterinary care in the convenience of their own home, Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) is now offering telemedicine appointments right on your cell phone!

To get started, call our front desk at (617) 226-5605 to see if your appointment can be scheduled via telemedicine.  Once your appointment is confirmed, download the TeleVet – Remote Pet Care app and you are on your way for a virtual consult! Prior to your appointment, please set up an account with your payment information. At the conclusion of your telemedicine appointment, if our veterinarian determines that your pet needs to come into BVC for a physical exam, the telemedicine appointment fees will be applied as a credit to that visit.

Boston Veterinary Care will remain open with normal hours of operation.  BVC Clients should wait in their car and call when they arrive for their appointment.  A staff member will meet you outside and take your pet inside for the exam. The doctor will call to go over results and recommendations along with an estimate. You can approve and pay by phone and we will bring the pet outside. For owners who do not have a car, please call when you arrive outside of BVC and a staff member will meet you outside and take your pet into the exam room; owners will not be permitted in the lobby or exam rooms at this time. We encourage BVC clients to use our online pharmacy or call from outside and we will bring out their medications and take payments by phone.

Tuesday Cat’s-Only Nights are suspended through May 26th, in an effort to ensure that sick or injured clients can receive urgent care as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

We ask that clients read and follow these basic health precautions before visiting the clinic, and that clients who become ill call to cancel their appointment. For clients with who have been exposed to COVID-19, and whose pet has an emergency to please call us at (617) 226-5605 so we can discuss the appropriate clinical action.  We may ask you to have someone else bring your pet in for treatment.

Dog Training
classes will be postponed until after May 1st, including sessions that are already in progress. If you have behavioral questions about your pet, please call our FREE Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or email us behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org.

Keep Pets S.A.F.E. (Supporting Animals Facing Emergencies)

Do you find yourself having to decide whether or not you can keep your pet due to emergency medical, financial, or personal reasons?  If so, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) may be able to help!

Funded by a generous $30,000 grant through PetSmart Charities®, ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E program is offering the following emergency services for qualified residents of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Deliver pet food and other essential pet supplies to clients’ homes and partner-supported community housing;
  • Pick up and transfer pets to provide critical veterinary care and return them to their owner;
  • Provide temporary emergency shelter for pets and offer pick up and return of the pet to their owner or a designated caregiver;
  • Arrange for emergency surrender of pets with pick up service.

To qualify for this program, you must be a client of Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC), or ARL’s Wellness Waggin’ and live in one of the following zip codes 02119, 02120, 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, 02126.

To request assistance, call the Keep Pets S.A.F.E. hotline at (857) 350-8730, Monday – Saturday, 9AM – 5PM, or visit www.arlboston.org/safe

Law Enforcement, Field Services, and the Community Cats

programs will focus on providing assistance via phone, and will respond to emergencies only.

Spay Waggin’
appointments will be cancelled through June 1st.  Future appointments cannot be booked at this time.  The Spay Waggin’ phone line will remain open if you need to call for a refund of the appointment fee, but please be aware that we anticipate high call volume over the next week.  We thank you for your patience.

Wellness Waggin’
appointments will be cancelled through June 1st.  Future appointments cannot be booked at this time.

Volunteer Engagement & Foster Family
orientations are suspended through May 1st.  While we appreciate so many families reaching out to help a shelter animal during this uncertain time, we can only place animals with those who have already completed ARL’s foster care orientation.

Staying Connected

Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and check out our blog, where we’ll continue to share the breaking ARL updates and animal stories.

This is a rapidly changing situation and we appreciate your continued patience and support as we navigate it together. ARL is monitoring the changing circumstances very closely and are reviewing our protective measures and protocols on a daily basis to protect the health and safety of our community.

Thank you!
– The ARL Team


There is currently no evidence that companion animals can spread COVID-19 to humans or vice-versa.

Please read the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s most Frequently Asked Questions regarding COVID-19 and pets.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding COVID-19 and pets


To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we urge Boston Veterinary Care clients to please follow CDC guidelines for personal health and hygiene:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water prior to coming to BVC.
  • Use provided hand sanitizer upon arriving and leaving BVC.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or your inner elbow (not your hands).
  • When possible maintain a safe social distance (6 feet) between yourself and others and abstain from shaking hands.
  • For the safety of our clients and caregivers, please follow the guidelines below for visits to BVC.

In Case of a Pet Emergency

Clients who are feeling ill, have traveled overseas during the last two weeks, or have been in close contact with someone who might be infected with COVID-19 should call BVC at (617) 226-5605 so we can discuss an appropriate clinical plan. Upon speaking, we may ask you to find someone else to bring your pet in to receive care.

For Scheduled Appointments

Clients who are feeling ill, have traveled overseas during the last two weeks, or have been in close contact with someone who might be infected with COVID-19 should refrain from visiting BVC and call to reschedule your appointment at (617) 226-5605.

For the Latest Information on COVID-19

For the latest information about COVID-19 visit the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 online resource centers.

To learn more about COVID-19 transmission to pets, please read the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s most Frequently Asked Questions.