ARL Joins MAF for Special Spay/Neuter Clinic in Fall River

Spay/neuter clinic provides vital surgery for 30 cats

This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’ was once again in Fall River for a special spay/neuter clinic for more than two dozen cats as part of an ongoing collaborative effort with ARL, the Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF), and Fall River Animal Control.

For four years, ARL has participated in the clinic in collaboration with MAF and Fall River Animal Control, with well over 100 animals receiving the vital spay/neuter surgery throughout this partnership.

The surgeries are under the MAF voucher program, which distributes vouchers to qualifying low-income pet owners to cover the cost of the important procedure.

Due to high demand, many clients have 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 providing this vital service that’s greatly needed in the Fall River Community.

“Fall River is already a struggling community, but since the pandemic, it seems as if getting spay/neuter services has proven to be even more difficult,” said Cynthia Berard-Cadima, Fall River Animal Control Officer. “People contact us daily, asking for funds.  Many are out of work and our homeless community is growing.  We are stretching every dime and our veterinarians are donating time and services more than ever.”

Clinics like this that provide subsidized spay and neuter services are at the core of MAF, which is primarily funded by the voluntary tax check off (Line 33f) on the Massachusetts resident income tax form. Since 2014, the MAF voucher program has helped provide spay and neuter services for more than 17,500 animals.

Along with these clinics, ARL continues to be extremely active in the Fall River, as the city is a hotbed when it comes to community cats.

With community cat colonies scattered throughout the city, ARL’s Community Cat Program has provided ample assistance to Fall River Animal Control over the past several years, trapping hundreds of cats, providing them with veterinary care, spay/neuter surgery, and finding the vast majority of them loving homes.

This work has become a year-round effort, and ARL cannot do this work alone.

Donate Today and Your Gift will Have Double the Impact!

The last few years have been extraordinarily difficult and soaring inflation has stretched our budget to the limit. Half of ARL’s donations arrive in the last three months of the year, and most giving happens in the last two weeks of December, yet animals need help every day. This is why GivingTuesday is such an important event for animals in need.

ARL’s Board of Directors, President & CEO, and Friends of ARL, are matching all gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000 until Giving Tuesday, 11/29. Please make a gift today through our Facebook fundraiser (100% of your donation will go towards helping animals in need) or directly through our secure, online form.

ARL Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is reminding pet owners of some things to keep in mind to help keep our pets safe and healthy as we celebrate with friends, family, food and festivities!

Cat laying in Christmas free

Plants and Decorations

Pet owners should be aware of the holiday plants being brought into the home – mistletoe, holly, some types of lilies can cause a host of issues if they are ingested and additionally, poinsettias, while traditional, can also be toxic. Stick to artificial plant decorations, or opt for a pet-friendly bouquet.

If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it’s anchored so it doesn’t tip over and injure your pet, and also be sure to keep pets from drinking the tree water which could cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

For decorations, with its sparkle, tinsel can be mistaken for a toy, but if ingested can cause vomiting, dehydration or even a blockage in the digestive tract, so in short, if you have pets, leave the tinsel in the box!

Also, be sure to never leave candles unattended, and keep wires, batteries and ornaments out of reach of your pet’s paws.

small dog sniffing sweets in a bowl

Foods to Avoid

We all know that chocolate is a no-no, but there are also potential dangers hidden in many of the side dishes and snacks we enjoy during the holidays.

These include onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, nuts, milk and dairy, and xylitol, which is a sweetener found in many products including candy, gum and baked goods, can all be toxic to our pets.

Do not give your dog bones, either cooked or raw! Bones can splinter, causing intestinal obstructions and even fracture teeth.

Be mindful while cooking – consider keeping pets out of the kitchen and remind your guests not to feed your pets any scraps!

Should your pet ingest any items that may be toxic, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.

white cat laying on bookshelf

Holiday Gatherings

If your hosting family or friends for the holidays, it could be a stimulus overload for your pet, causing anxiety and overexcitement. And in turn unpleasant behaviors may surface so be sure to set up your pet for success before your guests arrive.

Give your pets get plenty of attention and exercise prior to guests arriving because we all know tired pets are more apt to be better behaved pets!

With guests constantly coming and going, it’s best to remind visitors to be mindful when entering and exiting your home to ensure your pet does not make a great escape in all of the excitement – if they are overanxious they may make a dash for the door!

Additionally, provide your pet with a safe space away from your guests should they need an escape from the excitement.

The space should have fresh water, food, and items to keep them occupied including toys, or perhaps a food puzzle and bedding so they can be comfortable.

We all want our pets safe and healthy, so it’s best to plan ahead to ensure a worry-free holiday season.

ARL Partners with New England Center and Home for Veterans

ARL to offer variety of services, including temporary pet housing

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is proud to announce a new partnership with the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV), in an effort to further serve Veterans who may be facing housing instability or other challenges.

ARL is currently offering its Temporary Pet Housing Initiative to NECHV clients, to ensure Veterans are getting the help they need, avoiding pet surrender, and keeping pets and people together. To date, ARL has already assisted several animals who have since been reunited with their owners.

“ARL is honored for the opportunity to partner with the New England Center and Home for Veterans by offering temporary pet housing to former service men and women who are in the midst of transitioning to permanent housing,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “To be able to temporarily care for and then reunite these animals with their families is a special responsibility, and ARL is proud to play a role in keeping pets out of shelters and in homes with the people who love them.”

“The New England Center and Home for Veterans is pleased to offer the services of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Temporary Pet Housing Initiative to the Veterans we serve,” said NECHV President and CEO C. Andrew McCawley. “Pets are like family, and the thought of having to give them up can contribute to the disruptiveness of homelessness. Through this partnership, Veteran pet owners who are experiencing housing instability can have peace of mind, knowing that their pets will be well cared for until they can be reunited with them.”

ARL’s Temporary Pet Housing Initiative allows pets to stay within ARL’s vast foster care network, relieving the pet owner of having to make any difficult pet-related decisions while allowing them to focus on bettering their own situation.

As the partnership grows, ARL aims to provide further services to Veterans and their pets including pet wellness, spay/neuter, among others.


Founded in 1989, the New England Center and Home for Veterans is a nationally recognized leader in serving Veterans.  The NECHV is a multi-dimensional service and care provider that assists Veterans who are facing challenges with a broad array of programs and services that enable success, meaningful employment, and dignified, independent living.

*To protect the privacy of veterans in this program, the photos used in this blog are not participants of the program.

ARL Hosts Free Rabies Vaccine Clinics in Partnership with Boston Animal Control

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently teamed up with Boston Animal Control for two community rabies vaccine clinics, in an effort to provide convenient and accessible services for Boston pet owners.

With the partnership with Boston Animal Control, pet owners were able to have their animals receive a rabies vaccine, distemper vaccine, microchip, as well as pet licenses – all for free!

The rabies vaccine clinics were held at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, and at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center in Dorchester, and staffed by ARL and Boston Animal Control veterinarians, as well as ARL volunteers.

The combined clinics had a tremendous impact, helping more than 150 animals!

This marks the fourth rabies vaccine clinic that ARL has hosted this year.

Previously, ARL held clinics in Dedham and on Cape Cod to further offer these vital services to pet owners in the regions that ARL proudly serves.

Aside from accessibility and convenience, the services the rabies clinics provided were also vital for pet owners.

A rabies vaccine is important for a variety of reasons, but Massachusetts law also requires dogs and cats to be vaccinated for rabies, and the importance of a  microchip cannot be overstated.

Microchips have reunited thousands of pets with their owners, even ones who have been missing for years or traveled many miles away! If your pet were to go astray, any veterinarian’s office, animal hospital, or animal shelter would be able to scan your pet’s microchip and contact you immediately. Nearly half of the animals receiving services during the past two clinics also received microchips.

ARL would like to thank Boston Animal Control for continuing these annual clinics and look forward to providing further services in 2023!

ARL Updates Condition of Severely Burned Dog Found in Norwood in August

Burned dog found as stray, suffered severe burns to 20 percent of its body

This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was pleased to be able to provide an update to members of the Boston media about a severely burned one-year-old mixed-breed dog who was found as a stray in Norwood in late August, and is continuing on her path to recovery.

ARL’s Law Enforcement Department and Norwood Police continue to jointly investigate the incident as a case of animal cruelty and abandonment and once again is asking the public for any assistance in the investigation.

Watch local media coverage.

While her condition is still guarded, over the past two months, Annie has shown tremendous perseverance, undergoing comprehensive and sometimes painful procedures to aid in the healing process of the burns covering her head, neck, shoulders, front limbs, and abdomen.

The pain for Annie has been greatly reduced, her fur is beginning to grow back, and she is thriving in the care of a loving foster home.

Annie continues to require frequent follow-ups with ARL’s shelter medicine staff to ensure her recovery is steadily progressing, and given the trauma she has suffered, being in a foster home has helped her build confidence and be comfortable in a home.

“Her care involved a lot of pain control, it was very difficult in the beginning,” ARL Veterinarian Dr. Hannah Donnelly said. “Her hair started growing back probably a month ago, you can see she’s really come a long way and she’s completely off of all her medications. Her behavior, her attitude, everything is so much better, she’s a lot more comfortable just around people and she’s doing real dog things [like] playing with toys, playing with people, and figuring out life again.”

Despite her progress, Annie still has a way to go in the recovery process, and she remains unavailable for adoption.

This is an ongoing investigation, and anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact ARL’s Law Enforcement Department at 617-426-9170 x110 or email cruelty@arlboston.org; or Norwood Police at 781-440-5100.

ARL Hosts Important Training Sessions

ARL Dedham Campus to continue offering space for animal-related training sessions

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Dedham campus recently hosted two training sessions to better equip those on the front lines of animal protection in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Animal Fund (MAF) utilized ARL’s Rabe Family Education and Training Center to conduct a core competencies course for 45 animal and law enforcement officers representing municipalities throughout the Commonwealth, and is a vital part of officers having the tools and training to safely work with animals on a day-to-day basis.

The all-day training session covered a variety of topics including animal law, emergency preparedness, report writing and record keeping, responding to wildlife, among others.

While MAF collaborates with ARL for a number of subsidized spay/neuter clinics annually, ARL was thrilled to be able to host the organization for this important training session, and looks forward to hosting again in the future!

“The Mass Animal Fund is grateful to ARL Boston for allowing us to utilize their new state-of-art new training room in their Dedham branch,” stated MAF Program Coordinator, Sheri Gustafson. “The training room provided a comfortable, spacious, and convenient venue for 45 municipal officers to attend the 2022 Animal Control Officers Core Competencies Training for no cost. The room was the perfect backdrop for this important training that covered Massachusetts animal laws, wildlife response, report writing/record keeping, officer safety, and emergency preparedness.  We look forward to visiting the facility again soon!”

ASPCA Training Session on Combating Animal Blood Sports

Animal blood sports, including dog fighting, is a reprehensible practice that, while illegal in all 50 states including Massachusetts, still exists.

ARL recently hosted Terry Mills, Director of Blood Sports Investigations with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and a nationally renowned expert on the subject to conduct a training session on the subject.

Those in attendance included law enforcement officers, prosecutors, veterinarians, among others, and the course covered a variety of subjects including an overview of the subculture of animal fighting, case histories, and tools to combat animal fighting on a local level.

While the subject matter is not for the faint of heart, the tools offered in the training session are vital for the collaborative disruption of the practice and the welfare for the animals involved.

ARL Law Enforcement and Advocacy Speak to State Trooper Cadets

Additionally, ARL’s Law Enforcement and Advocacy Departments recently spoke to the 87th Recruit Training Troop at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in the western part of the state.

ARL has spoken to cadets for the past several years, and during the training session, ARL addressed existing animal cruelty laws, recognizing signs of animal abuse, and how ARL can assist local and state law enforcement agencies in investigating cases of suspected animal cruelty.

ARL is honored to have had this incredible opportunity to instruct the next generation of Massachusetts State Police Troopers, and look forward to continuing this collaborative effort with the Massachusetts State Police.

Press Release: ARL Awarded Grant from “I’m Animal Friendly” License Plate Funds

Grant helps fund special spay/neuter clinics 

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is happy to announce they are a recipient of a 2022 grant from the MA “I’m Animal Friendly” license plate program. Funds will be used towards ARL’s low-cost spay and neuter programs to assist those who need it most.

One of more than two dozen animals who received spay/neuter surgery thanks to the generous MAC grant.

The “I’m Animal Friendly” license plates are a program of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition. Funds are granted annually to organizations that demonstrate a need for funding and provide low-cost spay/neuter services. Through this year MAC has awarded $2,866,000 to many deserving organizations.

The MAC grants are being utilized to provide subsidized spay and neuter surgeries through ARL’s Spay Waggin’ during two special clinic days at the Franklin Park Zoo, which will serve more than two dozen animals.

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston is extremely grateful to the Massachusetts Animal Coalition for awarding these much-needed funds to allow ARL the opportunity to assist pet owners in the Greater Boston area who need it most by providing this important procedure,” stated ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino.


Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC) is a statewide, non-profit organization comprised of animal welfare professionals and individual volunteers dedicated to working together to decrease the number of homeless, neglected, displaced and abused animals in Massachusetts. MAC’s “I’m Animal Friendly” license plate program helps fund spay and neuter programs across the state. These charitable plates are available through Massachusetts RMV and are tax deductible.

ARL Rescues Community Kitten with Glass Jar Stuck on its Head

Community Kitten rescue collaborative effort with ARL and Fall River Animal Control

 This week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department assisted Fall River Animal Control to rescue a community kitten in the precarious position of having what appeared to be a glass bowl or light fixture cover stuck on its head.

The six-month-old kitten, now named Buzz Lightyear, was spotted along the 200 block of Danforth Street by a nearby resident who has been monitoring and feeding cats in the area, who then contacted Fall River Animal Control.

Because ARL’s Field Services agents work frequently in the Fall River area to help tackle the enormous numbers of community kittens and cats living on the streets, ARL was contacted and dispatched to the scene.

Upon arrival, the kitten was seen wandering along the roadway, and while it took a bit of time, Buzz was eventually captured by use of a drop trap.

Although she could not smell with the jar on her head, the agent used food to lure two of Buzz’s siblings into the trap and out of curiosity, she followed.

Once secured, ARL’s Field Services agent was able to handle the kitten and remove the glass jar, and then transported Buzz to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Although the kitten was a bit dirty from living on the streets, ARL’s shelter medicine determined she was in good health, and proceeded to provide the kitten with vaccines and spay surgery.

Buzz has settled into her new surroundings, however, because she is still learning to trust humans, she will need time for ARL staff and volunteers to help socialize the young cat, and she is not yet available for adoption.

Additionally, while rescuing the kitten, ARL was able to identify a previously unknown cat colony, and will begin trapping the other cats in the colony to provide medical treatment, spay/neuter surgery, and assess behavior to possibly place other cats from the colony into loving homes.

ARL wishes to thank Fall River Animal Control for the continued collaboration to care for the large community kitten and cat population in the city.

About 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.

Abandoned Dog on the Mend Reunites with Rescuers

Abandoned and emaciated  dog discovered near Malden Police Department in July making remarkable recovery

This week, a dog who was found abandoned and in terrible condition in late July near the Malden Police Department returned to visit with the officers who took immediate action upon his arrival.

Bailey, a one-year-old Chihuahua named after a Malden Police Lieutenant who was on-duty when he arrived in July and took an immediate interest in the dog, has been recovering with the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), who was thrilled to be able to make this reunion happen.

Watch local news coverage of Bailey’s reunion.

Bailey Discovered

On Monday, July 25, Bailey was discovered huddling in some bushes along the East Coast Greenway bike trail in the area of Dell and Branch Streets.

The finder carefully wrapped the animal in a blanket and brought him to the nearby Malden Police Department where on-duty officers immediately took action to put Bailey on the road to recovery.

The dog was initially treated at an animal hospital in Charlestown and then transferred to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Bailey was emaciated, weighing just two pounds and scoring a 2 out of 9 on the body condition score index, meaning he was emaciated.

He also suffered severe fur loss and his body is covered in scabs, and additionally, he tested positive and is being treated for Giardia, a parasitic illness that may be a further indicator that Bailey was previously living in unsanitary conditions — when presented for medical treatment, the animal was described as “malodorous” (filthy).


Once in the care of ARL, Bailey was treated for his skin issues, and was put on a refeeding program to ensure he would gain weight slowly and safely.

He was also placed into foster care, allowing him the quiet environment he needed to heal, and to receive the ongoing care necessary for his recovery.

Although still on the mend, Bailey has gained more than a pound, his skin is healing, and his fur is starting to regrow.

Over the past two months, Bailey has also come out of his shell in his foster home, loves being around people, and has grained a tremendous amount of confidence.

This remains an ongoing investigation by ARL’s Law Enforcement Department and Malden Police. Anyone with information pertaining to the case is urged to contact ARL at (617) 426-9170 x110, or email cruelty@arlboston.org. You can also contact Malden Police at (781) 397-7171 with any pertinent information.

Please note: Bailey is not currently available for adoption.

While it’s expected for his status to change soon, there remains no timeline for when this may happen.

Former Emaciated Stray Now Living His Best Life

This past August, Sigma, a six-year-old male cat, was brought to the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center as an emaciated stray, by a resident who was concerned for the cat’s well-being.

Sigma’s finder believed he had been owned and then abandoned by a former neighbor and had kept an eye on him over the past year and feeding him from time to time as well.

Sigma, while friendly, was in rough shape.

He weighed just 6 pounds, and as a comparison, when he was adopted from ARL in 2017 as a kitten, he went home weighing 9 pounds. Along with being extremely emaciated, he was also dehydrated, and unable to stand or walk on his own.

Additionally, his right eye was foggy and he was also tremoring, a sign of possible neurological deficits.

Making Strides

Sigma, a former emaciated stray, transformed after several weeks on a refeeding plan.

ARL’s shelter medicine team quickly went to work, running diagnostic tests and placing Sigma on a refeeding plan to ensure he would put on weight safely and slowly.

The lameness in his hind limbs was due to severe muscle wasting, a likely byproduct of being abandoned and inability to find a sustainable food source. Thankfully, Sigma began to strengthen as he started putting on weight, and was soon able to display vastly improved mobility.

Sigma needed some time to recover, and was placed into a foster home, where he thrived!

Many former strays can be scared of new people and surroundings, however, Sigma was the complete opposite. He loved being around his foster family, especially a young child in the home.

Going Home

After several weeks in foster care, Sigma had put back on the weight that he had lost, and was healthy, happy, and strong.

About one month after arriving at ARL, Sigma was made available for adoption, and almost immediately found his perfect family, and is thriving in his new home.

A black cat laying on a cat scratch pad

“Sigma loves to explore our home room by room. He enjoys playing with his new toys and napping! He has a great appetite and lots of energy.” Deng L., Sigma’s adopter

September is Champions Circle Month!

Sigma received the care that he needed all thanks to supporters like you.

If you’ve ever considered supporting ARL throughout the calendar year, now is a perfect time to do so!

ARL’s Champions Circle members provide reliable support in the form of monthly gifts. With their recurring contributions, members give animals like Sigma the critical support they need now, and dependable support that ARL can count on, ALL YEAR LONG. Become a Champions Circle member today!