ARL Saves Life of Transport Kitten

Transport kitten required leg amputation due to unrepairable fracture

A seven-month-old transport kitten in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is getting a second chance thanks to both the transport, and the emergency surgical procedure performed by ARL’s shelter medicine team.

The kitten was part of a transport of cats through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Relocation Program, and was suffering from a severely fractured leg.

Because the kitten, named Raquel, was found as a stray, it’s unknown how she suffered the injury.

Upon arrival at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, Raquel’s leg was x-rayed and due to the extent and severity of the fracture, the leg was removed which will result in Raquel living a pain-free, and normal life.

Just one day after surgery, Raquel was playful, energetic and displayed no mobility issues.

Raquel is literally receiving a second chance – given the combination of shelter overcrowding and her medical issues, it’s very likely that the kitten would have been euthanized had she not been transported.

ARL is thrilled to have the opportunity to give Raquel and the 14 other cats that were part of the transport the chance to find permanent homes and have the fulfilling lives they deserve.

While ARL’s feline priorities remain focused on serving the countless homeless cats living in our local communities through the organization’s Community Cat Program, ARL is a proud partner with the ASPCA and regularly receives transports of both cats and dogs to lessen shelter overcrowding in other regions of the country and finding these animals homes.

The ASPCA Relocation Program removes cats and dogs from shelters in areas with high homeless animal populations and transports them to areas (like Massachusetts), where the demand for adoptable animals is high.

In 2021, the program relocated more than 34,000 animals to shelters across the country.

ARL Offers Tips During Animal Poison Prevention Week

Animal exposure to poison impacts countless animals annually

It’s National Animal Poison Prevention Week, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is raising awareness to common household items that can be toxic, or even fatal, for our furry friends.

Watch ARL discussing this topic with Boston Fox affiliate WFXT.

Cleaning Products

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.

Helping keep 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.

Also make sure there is ample airflow, to avoid possible respiratory issues for pets that could arise due to the strong fumes of some cleaning products.


It’ll soon be time to get out into the yard as the weather warms, and for many, this means gardening projects, including flowers.

It is important to keep in mind that there are a number of flowers that can be toxic to pets, especially cats.

Lilies of any variety, daffodils, tulips, chrysanthemums, and hyacinths should be avoided.

There are also a number of garden pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals that are pet-friendly and should be utilized if your pets will be frolicking in the yard when the weather turns warmer.

Food Concerns

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, citrus 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 in pets
  • 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, 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.

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 Joins ABCD for Mobile Food Pop-Up Program

Agency provides groceries and pet food for qualifying families and individuals at no cost

(Boston, MA) — The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is expanding its partnership with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), by participating in two monthly ABCD FOOD POP-UPS to help distribute groceries and pet food for individuals and families in underserved and under-resourced communities in Greater Boston.

A May 2019 report by Feeding America revealed that Massachusetts has the most expensive food prices in the country, with residents of Eastern Massachusetts shouldering the highest food costs statewide.

ABCD FOOD POP-UPS are among several new initiatives designed to strengthen ABCD’s food security program.

To qualify, residents of Boston, Medford, Everett, Belmont, Newton or Winchester must have a household annual income under 80 percent AMI (Area Median Income).

Monthly, FOOD POP-UPS visit Mattapan, Roslindale, East Boston and South Boston, providing fresh produce, meats and grocery staples.

Additionally, ARL will be present at the East Boston and Mattapan pop-ups to provide dog and cat food.


A line forms at ABCD's pop-up

A line forms outside of the East Boston pop-up.


ARL staff members work to hand out pet food at ABCD pop-ups

ARL’s team happily hands out pet food during Friday’s pop-up in East Boston.

There are no appointments required. Community members must register through ABCD’s online portal by visiting bostonabcd.org/mobilefood. Supplies are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  

ARL’s collaboration with ABCD began in 2019, with ARL’s Wellness Waggin’, offering low-cost, high-quality wellness care for pets in Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, and East Boston, and the organization is thrilled to be able to expand this partnership to offer continued assistance to our local communities.

“Food insecurity is an unfortunate reality for many, and can extend to pets as well,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “ABCD is continually finding ways to better serve clients, and ARL is privileged to be able to be a part of this important program to help both people and animals in our communities.

ABCD President and CEO Sharon Scott-Chandler, Esq., said that high inflation and food costs could force people to make the difficult choice between feeding themselves or their beloved pets. “Right now inflation and grocery prices are through the roof for everyone. Pets are family members. They improve emotional well-being and make life a little brighter all around. Deciding which family member gets fed is crushing. ABCD thanks the Animal Rescue League for this expanded partnership and for providing free pet food to clients at our FOOD POP-UPS.”

ARL’s contribution of free dog and cat food makes the difference for residents who are trying to make ends meet.

ABCD client Diogenes Castillo supplements his grocery budget by visiting an ABCD FOOD POP-UP for fresh meat, produce and staples.

He said, “With grocery prices being so expensive, everything helps. My dog is like my best friend. Receiving pet food from the Animal Rescue League of Boston when I visit ABCD FOOD-POP UPS lets me stretch my dollars and make sure that my good boy is well fed.”

Feeding America also reports that in 2021, 53 million people turned to food access centers and community programs for help with putting food on the table. These pop-ups are ideal for those who don’t live near a food access center, can’t get to one during regular hours or who have mobility issues.

ARL Tops 100 for Overcrowding Cat Intake in 2023

Latest overcrowding cat situation involved two dozen cats removed from home in Bristol County

This past week the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) took in two dozen animals from a cat overcrowding situation in Bristol County, and already in 2023 ARL has taken in more than 100 cats from these types of situations in our local communities – nearly twice as many as the same time period in 2022.

ARL is the only large animal welfare organization in Massachusetts with a dedicated community cat agent working within our local communities to help these animals directly where they live.

The cats currently in ARL’s care came from an individual that previously reached out to ARL for assistance through the organization’s Community Cat Program to support care for outdoor cats in the area as well as owner surrender for cats the individual had taken into their care.

After providing refuge and shelter for so many outdoor cats, the situation had become too overwhelming and assistance was required to ensure the cats were provided with proper care and the opportunity to find loving homes through ARL’s adoption services.

Once removed from the home, the cats were transported to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center where they continue to receive ongoing medical and behavioral care.

Cats living in overcrowding situations tend to have chronic medical issues due to a lack of proper care and sanitation, and because they are more used to interacting with other animals rather than people, tend to have behavioral challenges to overcome before being placed in a permanent home.

The majority of the cats are doing remarkably well and while many are available for adoption, others will need ongoing care, but should be ready to find their new homes soon.

Taking in such a large and sudden influx of animals is a daunting task, however, ARL has the experience and expertise to provide the care these animals need, and reminds the public that 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.

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.

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.

A Moment of Paws: When Pet Care Becomes Overwhelming

Recently, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) took in more than 75 cats from several homes that were overcrowded with pets. While situations like this may be surprising to some, homes overcrowded with pets are more common than you think. In fact, ARL sees numerous overcrowding situations annuallythree already in 2023.

Pets are family and give us so much, and for some, having just one pet isn’t enough. But for a variety of reasons, sometimes the love for animals can become overwhelming and lead to having too many animals in the home.

There are a number of concerns regarding pet overcrowding, which has an impact on not only the animals involved but also the caretakers.

A primary concern is cost. According to the national animal welfare organization the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the average cost of owning just one pet ranges from $700-1,000 annually. Multiply that by 10-fold or more, and the cost of providing care for a large number of animals can quickly become out of reach for many pet owners and may lead to scaling back on food and basic necessities.

Potential health issues are also something to consider. A large number of animals in the home can present a multitude of health hazards, both for animals and people. Maintaining a sanitary environment for a large number of animals is a daunting task, and the presence of animal waste reduces air quality and introduces the risk of illness, some of which can be passed from animals to humans.

Additionally, ensuring that every animal in the home is receiving proper nutrition, grooming, veterinary care, and socialization is also difficult. In overcrowding situations, oftentimes we see animals, primarily cats, that are shy, fearful, and need extensive and sometimes long-term care to become more comfortable in a home setting.

Overcrowding also raises the issue of the importance of spay and neuter. The population of animals in a home can multiply rapidly when the animals are kept intact, which can make a situation more difficult. If you are caring for a large number of animals in the home, spaying and neutering them will eliminate unwanted litters.

Overcrowding is not an uncommon occurrence and it’s important to know that there are resources available. More often than not, caretakers in these situations start out with the best of intentions and simply let the situation evolve over time.

If you or someone you know is dealing with pet overcrowding, reach out to local animal control, or an organization like ARL for assistance. When assisting an overwhelmed caretaker, organizations like ARL care for both the animals and people involved. Whether it’s providing spay and neuter services, or removing some or all pets from the home, the goal is to ensure that the animals receive the care they need, and that the caretaker returns to a manageable number of pets in the home.

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.

Pair of Community Cats Forge Heart-Warming Bond at ARL

Community cats overcome social and medical hurdles

When community cats come into the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), the road to finding a permanent and loving home is often paved with challenges, whether it be a medical condition or a need for socialization.

For six-year-old Jacob and eight-year-old Peanut Butter, they found more than shelter, medical treatment, and caring staff at ARL – they found each other.

Jacob was found as a stray in Fall River, and upon his arrival at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, it was clear he needed medical attention.

Although showing some social behavior, he had two ailments causing him discomfort and pain that needed to be addressed – severe dental disease, and an infection that had all but destroyed his right eye.

ARL’s shelter medicine team proceeded to remove the eye, and with the extent of the dental disease, performed a full-mouth extraction, removing all of his remaining teeth.

Jacob and Peanut Butter.

Jacob was placed in an office to recover, and there is where he found Peanut Butter.

Peanut Butter was also a stray and was living in Hyde Park.

She had a feeder to depend on, and her ear tip showed that she had been spayed and released at some point in her life.

Unfortunately, her feeder was moving, and could no longer monitor the aging cat.

When Peanut Butter was trapped and brought to ARL, she was found to be in good overall health, however, she was suffering from severe dental disease.

She was missing a handful of teeth, and 15 teeth that were causing her pain were removed.

With surgery complete, she was placed in the same office as Jacob to recover.

Over a short period of time, the two became fast friends, and soon were spotted together in a plush cat cubby and that is where you can find them curled up together for most of the day.

While the cats are still working on their social skills with humans, with their bond forged, they will find a new home together and will lean on one another to acclimate to their new surroundings.

*Update 3/14/23: Jacob and Peanut Butter have been adopted together!** 

ARL’s Community Cat Program

It is estimated that there are more than 700,000 community cats throughout Massachusetts, 70,000 in Boston alone.

Community cats face many challenges living outdoors. Without proper shelter and care, they are at risk of illness and injury.

Additionally, without spay/neuter surgery, these cats can produce many litters and continue the cycle of large colonies of unowned cats.

ARL’s Community Cat Program tackles this issue by working with individuals who take it upon themselves to feed and monitor these animals, as well as animal control officers to assess a colony and formulate a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) plan.

Spay and neuter surgeries are low risk and proven to improve the safety and health of these cats as well as the community as a whole. The plan also includes vaccines, and whether each cat will be returned to the colony, returned to their owner if microchipped, or admitted to an ARL shelter to be put up for adoption if they are friendly, just like Jacob and Peanut Butter.

More information about ARL’s Community Cat Program.

Former Abandoned Dog Finds the Home He Deserves

Abandoned dog needed extensive grooming and a little TLC

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently took in a 9-year-old abandoned dog from an animal control officer in Worcester County, this after the Australian Shepherd mix was left tied to a large tire near a busy road.

The abandoned dog, named Charlie, realized that he had been left to fend for himself, and managed to chew through the rope and sought shelter at a nearby business where staff took him in and notified authorities.

Charlie’s owner was found rather quickly and formally surrendered the dog, but is facing charges for abandoning an animal.

Once he was surrendered, the local animal control officer contacted ARL and transported him to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Upon arrival, staff was notified that Charlie had not received veterinary care for some time, and given his extremely matted and unkempt coat, he was in desperate need of grooming.

ARL’s shelter medicine team gave Charlie a thorough exam, and due to the extent of the matting, Charlie needed to be sedated for his grooming and when staff was finished, he literally looked like a completely different dog!

With the uncomfortable mats removed, Charlie quickly settled into his new surroundings and became a favorite among staff and volunteers.

Charlie was friendly, well-mannered, and enjoyed being around people and taking advantage of Dedham’s outdoor paddocks to play and run around in.

Less than two weeks after arriving at ARL, Charlie was made available for adoption and quickly found his new home where he has settled in and thriving!

A Resource for Animals in Need

ARL is thrilled for the opportunity to provide Charlie with the resources he needed to overcome a difficult situation and to find him the loving home he deserves.

ARL routinely works with animal control officers from around the Commonwealth in a variety of ways, including taking in animals like Charlie.

From assisting on animal rescues, providing intake for overcrowding or other situations involving large numbers of animals, or taking in stray or lost animals, animal control officers know that ARL is always ready, willing, and able to help in any way possible and that the animals will receive high-quality care and the resources they need to thrive in the next chapters of their lives.

ARL Takes in Dogs Rescued from Alleged South Carolina Dog Fighting Operation

Alleged dog fighting operation housed approximately 275 dogs

Late last week the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) received a special transport of three dogs from the national organization the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that were rescued from a large alleged dog fighting operation in South Carolina that was raided by federal officials in September of 2022.

ARL is privileged to welcome these dogs and give them the lives and homes they truly deserve.

The female dogs range from 2-3-years-old, and have received thorough medical examinations upon arrival at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Aside from scars that are typical of dogs that have suffered in this type of situation, one dog did need a mass removed, one dog required the extraction of several teeth, and one dog will need ongoing medication for allergies that have caused skin irritation.

The dogs are friendly, but given the circumstances they came from, they are understandably nervous around new people, however, ARL staff and volunteers are continuously working with the animals to increase their confidence and comfort level around people.

With the trauma behind them, ARL is looking forward to finding these resilient dogs the homes they deserve, and encourage potential adopters to learn more about them.

ARL wishes to thank HSUS for their efforts in rescuing these dogs, and for collaborating with ARL to help these dogs into the next phase of their lives.

Case Background

On September 25, 2022, HSUS assisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Office of the Inspector General to seize approximately 275 from multiple properties in the Columbia, South Carolina area as part of an ongoing investigation by the USDA, OIG, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

The conditions these animals were living in were horrific, with many dogs living in pens or chained to trees with barrels or makeshift shelter serving as their only protection from the elements. The dogs were suffering from a variety of injuries typically found in dog fighting situations including severe scarring, festering open wounds, lacerations, abscesses, and broken bones consistent with multiple bite wounds.

Additionally, many of the dogs were found to be dehydrated, underweight or emaciated, and infested with fleas and other parasites.

Most of the dogs were adults, however, there were multiple nursing litters of puppies removed from the properties as well.

While a portion of the 275 dogs have been surrendered and can now be placed for adoption, many are still receiving care in confidential locations while the court process determines custody.

The Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison to fight dogs or to possess, train, sell, buy, deliver, receive, or transport dogs intended for use in dogfighting.