Stray Puppy Found on Busy Neponset Circle

Stray puppy lucky to escape life-threatening circumstance

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently took in a 10-week-old stray puppy who is lucky to be alive after being found along a high-traffic area in Boston.

The 10-week-old Chihuahua named Sparkle, was found this past week in the Neponset Circle area, along the on-ramp heading towards I-93.

The Good Samaritan who rescued her had seen the dog in the area for several days, however, when the small dog wandered towards the busy roadway, her rescuer sprang into action to save the dog.

Weighing just 3 pounds and being an all-black dog, Sparkle is incredibly lucky she wasn’t struck by a vehicle, and ARL is extremely grateful to her rescuer.

The Good Samaritan is a resident at the Pine Street Inn, and once brought to the inn, staff then took the puppy to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Sparkle was frightened upon intake, and ARL’s veterinary team quickly gave her a thorough veterinary exam to make sure she was not injured and in sound health.

While she presented with an abnormal gait, the friendly and sweet puppy was determined to be in good overall health.

Sparkle was recently spayed, and was made available for adoption this past weekend.

Unsurprisingly, Sparkle quickly found her new family and is now thriving in her new home.

ARL again wishes to thank both the resident and staff at the Pine Street Inn for their actions in rescuing and likely saving the life of this young dog, who now has the forever home she deserves.

This rescue continues an amazing trend that ARL has seen in early 2024, as Good Samaritans have taken time out of their busy days to stop and help an animal in distress.

ARL salutes these acts of kindness, and thanks these Good Samaritans for being Champions for Animals in need!

ARL Sees Record-Setting Community Cat Intake

ARL only large MA animal welfare agency with dedicated Community Cat program

Following a record-setting 2023, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) continues to see a dramatic increase in the intake of community cats.

In 2023, ARL took in nearly 900 cats through the Community Cat Program, including more than 400 kittens, which is the highest number of cats to come in through the program since its inception in 2017.

2024 has already been extremely busy, as ARL took in 68 community cats, including 22 kittens, in January – a 75 percent increase over the first month of 2023.

ARL is seeing dozens of community cats coming through its doors on a weekly basis, and is working to provide medical care, behavioral assessments and placing these animals into homes as quickly as possible.

ARL is the only large animal welfare organization in Massachusetts directing resources to help community cats, and thus far in 2024, ARL has taken in more than 100 community cats from areas throughout the state.

Current data estimates there are approximately 700,000 community cats living in communities across the Commonwealth, 70,000 in Boston alone.

While community cats are incredibly resilient, kittens born outdoors are extremely vulnerable to fluctuating weather conditions, predators, illness, among others, and sadly many don’t survive.

Community cats and kittens can be found literally anywhere – under decks, in basements, woodpiles, dog houses – anywhere a mother cat can provide relative safety and warmth for her offspring.

ARL is committed to caring for these animals and reminds the public to be on the lookout for community cats and kittens.

If you come across these cats and kittens, it’s important not to attempt to move them, instead contact ARL’s Field Services Department for assistance at (617) 426-9170 (option 1).

Once the cats and kittens are rescued, ARL provides veterinary care, including vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery, and the cats are also assessed behaviorally to determine adoption potential.

Adult cats who are truly feral and do not want to rely on humans for care are returned to the field.

ARL Provides Corrective Surgery for Pair of Cats

Cats needing surgery came to ARL from separate circumstances

No matter how they come to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), every animal is treated with the same level of compassion, care, and medical attention.

ARL recently performed surgery on a pair of cats that arrived at the organization through different circumstances.

Paul, an 8-year-old male cat was rescued off the streets in Raynham, MA, while Elise, a 2-year-old female cat, was part of a transport of cats from an overcrowded shelter in Texas.

Both animals arrived at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center with varying degrees of medical issues – for Paul, he had dental disease and a number of scars and healing wounds due to a life of living on the streets, while Elise was diagnosed with a heart murmur and mild dental disease.

However, these cats had one medical affliction that required a surgical solution – entropion.

Entropion is a condition where the eyelid is inverted, which can cause painful irritation and if left untreated, could result in corneal scratches, inflammation, discharge, or possible blindness.

ARL’s veterinary team performed surgery on both cats to correct the condition, and once recovered from surgery, with the entropion irritation or pain no loner being an issue, the behavior for both animals drastically improved and their personalities were on full display.

Not surprisingly, once made available for adoption, Paul and Elise quickly found their perfect situations and are thriving in their new homes.

About ARL Community and Shelter Medicine

ARL’s Community and Shelter Medicine Department provides care for every animal at ARL’s three Animal Care and Adoption Centers, while also serving animals and their families in the communities where they live through the Spay Waggin’, Community Surgical Clinic, and Wellness Waggin’.

The Spay Waggin’, a mobile veterinary surgical unit, provides low-cost spay and neuter services to animals in Metro Boston, the South Shore, South Coast, and Cape Cod and the Islands.

ARL’s Community Surgical Clinic provides both veterinary and surgical services twice weekly at ARL’s Dedham local to animals and people in need, including the Community Cat Program.

The Wellness Waggin’ is a pet wellness clinic for residents of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Hyde Park and East Boston.

ARL Legislative Agenda Spotlight: Housing

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Legislative Agenda covers a wide range of policy areas, from strengthening laws prohibiting cruelty, to increasing protections at animal-related businesses, to providing for additional funding for animal care.

We know that policies to improve the lives of animals are not just focused on criminal cruelty cases, but can include creating communities where animals are able to stay in their homes.

Housing is one of the top concerns of many families in Massachusetts.

Amid rising costs and a competitive housing market, the stress of finding and maintaining housing can be a significant burden.

For many Massachusetts families with pets, this burden can be even more significant.

Breed-Based Discrimination

Archaic attitudes and narratives have created widespread discrimination and limits around allowing certain size and breeds of dogs into housing.

There are no protections for those looking for rental housing who may have a dog.

Discrimination on size and weight is common.

Landlords may also refuse to rent to tenants based on the breed of the dog, perceived or actual.

In a rental market with limited options, certain dog owners may find that they have even less options.

Prohibitions on breed is not limited to just renters.

Even landlords who want to allow for dogs regardless of breed may be restricted because their insurance rates or coverage limits them.

Many insurance companies will refuse to insure homes that have dogs of certain “banned breeds”.

These lists are comprehensive, often including breeds of dogs outside of what people may assume.

For homeowners who already own or want to bring home a dog that may be considered one of these breeds, they face limited options and may end up paying higher premiums.

Studies have shown that breed identification is a difficult task even by animal professionals.

More importantly, breed does not determine a dog’s temperament or danger to others.

Massachusetts law already allows for a lengthy process to designate a “dangerous dog,” based on documented behavior.

No part of this process allows for consideration of breed.

Housing related concerns are by far the top reason that animals are surrendered to shelters.

Breed-based policies can even impact animals in shelters, as foster homes may be limited based on size and breed of the dog and dogs resembling these breeds may have longer lengths of stay as they have less adoptive homes.

Policies that help families stay together provide for better outcomes for pets and people.

Housing Legislation

For a number of sessions, ARL has supported legislation that would prohibit breed-based discrimination in housing and insurance.

An Act to maintain stable housing for families with pets in an economic crisis and beyond (filed by Representative Dave Rogers, Representative Montaño and Senator Gobi) was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing, Chaired by Representative Arciero and Senator Edwards.

In addition to breed-based protections, this legislation has several provisions relating to housing and emergencies to protect pets, ensuring that in states of emergency families don’t have to choose between their pet and safety.

We are thankful to the Joint Committee on Housing for recognizing the impact these policies have on what is already a very difficult housing market.

Keeping pets and people together requires innovative solutions, and preventing evictions and separations of families based on stereotypes is a great first step.

Stay tuned for more information as legislation moves through the State House, and learn more about the bills on ARL’s Legislative Agenda.

Several Animals in ARL’s Care Thanks to Acts of Kindness

Good Samaritans paying it forward with acts of kindness

A number of animals have recently come into the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) thanks to kind-hearted and compassionate Good Samaritans that acted when seeing an animal in distress, and these acts of kindness made a tremendous difference in the lives of the animals involved.

Whether found in a parking lot, basement, or along the side of the road, the animals recently brought to ARL by Good Samaritans were in varying degrees of health, but all had one thing in common – compassionate and caring individuals who took time out of their day to help an animal in need.

Peanut Butter was found along a busy road in Dedham.

Along with a handful of cats who have already found their permanent homes, ARL is currently caring for an 11-month-old male Pitbull named Peanut Butter, who was recently found along a busy road in Dedham and was in dire need of rescuing.

Wandering along the side of Route 109 at night, the dark-colored dog was in danger of being struck by a vehicle, and additionally, the night he was found, temperatures were in the teens, adding to the animal’s vulnerability.

Seeing Peanut Butter on the side of the road, the Good Samaritans took action, pulling over and getting the dog into the vehicle.

The rescuers brought him home for the night and the next day brought him to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

While in good overall health, Peanut Butter was not wearing a collar, tags and was not microchipped.

ARL made efforts to track down his owner, but to no avail.

He is now available for adoption, and ARL looks forward to finding him the forever home he deserves.

ARL is grateful to all those who pause from their busy daily schedules to help an animal in need, and encourages anyone who finds an animal to contact their local animal control and animal welfare organization to ensure the animal receives the care they need.

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.

Press Release: Senate Passes Legislation Prohibiting Cat Declawing in Massachusetts

Would become third state in nation to outlaw declawing procedure

This week, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that would prohibit declawing, tendonectomy, and similar procedures from being performed on cats in Massachusetts, except in cases of medical necessity to address a condition that jeopardizes a cat’s health — as determined by a licensed veterinarian.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy Department has adamantly lobbied support for the proposal and is thrilled the measure has passed its first hurdle.

“Declawing of cats does not improve the human-animal bond and often results in serious medial and behavioral problems,” said ARL Director of Advocacy Ally Blanck. “Banning this cruel practice, which is in essence amputation, will prevent animals in Massachusetts from needless pain and suffering.”

Declawing a cat involves amputating the first bone on each toe, and tendonectomies involve cutting a tendon in each toe that controls the extension of claws.

Cats who have had their claws removed are more likely to experience paw pain, back pain, infection, tissue death, and could be unable to use their legs properly.

They are also more likely to incur nerve damage and bone spurs as a result of claw regrowth and the procedure is commonly performed for human convenience and to prevent damage to furniture, rather than medical necessity.

“The cats of Massachusetts are our beloved friends, and thousands of our Commonwealth’s residents return home from work or school every day looking forward to a warm purr that greets them at the door,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Today, the Senate acted to treat our feline friends as we would any friend—with the kindness and respect to which they are entitled—by passing legislation to outlaw the outdated and cruel procedure of declawing. As we pass today’s legislation, I am thankful to Senator Montigny for sponsoring the bill, Chair Rodrigues and Chair Cronin for their support, and the countless advocates who have brought this issue to the forefront.”

“I’m pleased this compassionate animal protection bill has been passed by the full Senate. Unnecessary declawing of cats in the Commonwealth has no place in our society and should rightfully be constituted as animal abuse. I would like to thank Senator Montigny and the animal rights activists who were largely responsible for this commonsense legislation,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“Declawing cats is a practice we need to leave in the past,” said Senator John J. Cronin (D-Fitchburg), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and all of the advocates who made this legislation possible.”

“Declawing is an abhorrent practice that most veterinarians view as inhumane,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), a longtime legislative leader for the humane treatment of animals. “But it is also a procedure that is widely misunderstood and requested by owners.  By passing this legislation, veterinarians will no longer have to weigh the choice knowing that if they don’t provide the procedure an owner is likely to just look for someone who will.  This is another step in my commitment to protect animals in the Commonwealth.  As a state we have done far too little to punish heartless abusers and to push back against a weak court system that has too often failed to hold them accountable.  There are too many people who have committed horrendous abuses to animals that have been unpunished and are walking free to continue to do harm.”

S.2552—An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing—would only permit licensed veterinarians to declaw a cat if they determine it is medically necessary. Veterinarians who violate the conditions for performing a declawing may be subject to disciplinary action by their licensure board.

Under this legislation, the civil penalty for violating this prohibition is $1,000 for the first offense, $1,500 for a second offense, and $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense.

If passed into law, Massachusetts would join New York and Maryland as the third state to have enacted statewide bans on declawing.

Additionally, more than a dozen U.S. cities have banned the practice and dozens of countries ban it or consider it illegal.

Get Involved

The bill will now go to the Massachusetts House, and ARL urges animal advocates to contact their state representatives and ask for their support of this measure to further protect cats in Massachusetts.

Find your State Representative here (https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator)

Please visit ARL’s Advocacy page to learn more about the organization’s advocacy efforts and learn more about how you can get involved in the legislative process!

ARL Provides Cat with Severely Fractured Leg Emergency Surgery

Cat surrendered due to cost of care for fractured leg

A 10-month-old female Ragdoll cat is recovering at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) after receiving an emergency amputation surgery due to a severely fractured leg.

The cat, named Winter, was recently surrendered to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center after breaking the leg in a fall in her former home, and unfortunately, the financial estimates to treat the injury were too great for her former family.

Upon intake at ARL, the cat underwent a thorough veterinary exam, including x-rays.

The images revealed a significant femoral fracture, and the damage was too extensive to save the leg.

Along with amputating the fractured leg, ARL veterinarians also spayed the animal, which revealed another issue for the young cat.

Winter was born with a partially formed uterus and was also missing a kidney.

The partially formed uterus and associated ovary were removed during the spay and will not have any impact on her future health.

ARL suggests that Winter’s new family consult with her primary veterinarian regarding living with one kidney, so her kidney function can be monitored as she ages – but it is expected that Winter will enjoy a normal quality of life.

Winter is not only a beautiful cat, but has also displayed a friendly, loving and playful personality, becoming an instant favorite among ARL staff and volunteers — she will certainly make a wonderful pet once she finds her new home.

The cat continues to recover in foster care and is not currently available for adoption, but it’s expected that she will become available in the coming weeks.

ARL understands the cost of veterinary care, particularly in an emergency situation can be shockingly expensive, and suggests any pet owner facing financial difficulties due to pet care to contact ARL.

Supporter Spotlight: Steve Chapman

When you think of volunteering at an animal shelter, your first thought may be of all the adorable puppies and kittens you’ll meet, and the animals you’ll fall in love with. But Brewster volunteer Steve Chapman can tell you there is so much more to volunteering at ARL than what meets the eye. 

After 26 years in high-level Law Enforcement, Steve Chapman and his wife Gail relocated to The Cape in 2006. After a few years of planting their roots in their new home, Steve and Gail decided they were ready to add a four-legged friend to their family. “There is nothing better than seeing that happy face in the window when you come home to a dog,” Steve says. So, they came to the ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, where they met and adopted a sweet Labrador Retriever, Zoey. 

From there, Steve’s connection with ARL only grew stronger. Retirement got old quickly for Steve, so when seeking out ways to meaningfully spend his time, he decided to start volunteering at ARL. Upon the start of his volunteer journey, Steve realized that playing with the kittens and puppies, although fun, is not what was most needed. With a small number of staff members and volunteers at the Brewster location, Steve became the go-to guy for helping with various maintenance projects around the campus. Today, he is affectionately known as the MacGuyver of Brewster. If you visit the shelter, you can probably find Steve swapping light bulbs, or fixing kennel doors, or lifting and moving food, or really just doing anything that is needed around the shelter! While there are abundant opportunities to work with the animals, we are so grateful to Steve’s dedication in helping us with some of the less glamorous parts of running an animal shelter. 

In addition to his integral role as Brewster’s fix-it man, Steve has also become someone that both the staff and volunteers can go to for support. Working and volunteering can be an emotionally daunting endeavor, and Steve is always there to offer a listening ear, and supporting words. His experience in law enforcement helped him develop extreme emotional resiliency and the ability to remain logical in tough situations. But that doesn’t mean the tough stories don’t affect him. In fact, one of Steve’s earliest memories involving animals was standing up to a neighborhood bully who was being rough with a neighborhood cat. At a young age, Steve learned the importance of standing up for what’s right – even if it is difficult to do. 

Steve’s strength, composure, and warmth makes him a great resource for our staff and volunteers. Steve is one of those people that makes you comfortable enough to share your problems with, even within hours of meeting him. Steve recalls some of his best memories at ARL as ones when he got the chance to connect with people on a deeper level. 

“Everyone has a story”, Steve says. And whether that story belongs to a staff member, volunteer, or shelter animal, Steve is there to offer his support. We are so grateful to Steve for being an unwavering champion for animals and the people who love them.