Future Focus: Strategic Plan Goal 4

Improve the lives of animals.


Lead the way for animal welfare by working closely with legislators and volunteers to advance key laws and policies that benefit animals across Massachusetts.


Protect more animals through humane law enforcement and by providing training for local and state police and animal control officers.


Create the next generation of compassionate animal advocates through humane education opportunities for youth.

Vision in Action

ARL partnered with the Suffolk County District Attorney, state and local law enforcement officers, and other animal welfare groups to create an animal cruelty task force that aims to coordinate law enforcement efforts to fight animal cruelty. It is the first task force of its kind in the county and we are proud to be on the front lines of these important efforts to protect animals from abuse. 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.

group photo of the Cruelty Task Force inside ARL Boston

Learn more about ARL’s 2024-2028 Strategic Plan for the Future.

Some July 4th Activities Can Be Too Hot for Spot®

Keep your pup cool with these 5 safety tips and a DIY frozen treat

For humans across the United States, the Fourth of July signifies a time for family and friends, BBQs, beaches, and fireworks. For our canine friends, however, the holiday can be one of over-stimulation – too many people, too much sun, loud noises, and overwhelming smells.

This July 4th, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) want to remind you that the summer heat and bustle of the weekend’s festivities may be too stressful on your pup.

Keep your dog safe by following these 5 important tips:

  1. Leave your pup indoors in a small quiet cool room. Tuning on a TV or radio at a low volume can help detract from outside noises. Leave them free to roam around so that they don’t feel too confined.
  2. Always keep your canine on a leash or in a carrier if they must be outside. Set them up in a cool shady spot with ample air flow and plenty of fresh water.
  3. Keep your pooch away from potentially hazardous objects. Secure your pet a good distance from fireworks, sparklers, BBQs, and pools. Remember that some pets can become “fearfully aggressive” due to loud noises, so monitor them closely, especially around small children.
  4. Never leave your pup alone in a parked car if they must travel with you. On a hot day, the temperature inside a parked car can cause deadly heatstroke- even with the windows cracked.
  5. Make sure your dog’s microchip and ID tag information is current. Many animal shelters report increases of “stray” animals after July 4th due to the number of pets running away from the noise and excitement. Be sure your contact information is current and always on your pup’s collar to ensure an easy reunion should they be separated from you.

Your best bet? Leaving your dog at home is always the right decision for you and your pet. Prevention is responsible pet ownership.

Learn more at arlboston.org/summersafety

Want to keep your pup cool and occupied in the summer heat? Learn how to make this simple DIY frozen dog treat!

DIY summer dog treats

Stray Puppy with Severe Mange Ready for Adoption

Stray puppy found wandering along Boston highway in May

A 4-month-old puppy with severe mange found as a stray along Cummins Highway in Roslindale back in May has made a remarkable transformation and is now ready to begin the next chapter of her life.

The puppy, now named Petunia, made a quick recovery, her fur has grown back and she looks completely different than she did upon intake.

Through medical treatment, foster care and her own strength and resilience, her transformation is utterly amazing.

She is now ready to find her new home, and will be made available for adoption at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, located at 55 Anna’s Place in Dedham.

Petunia was found May 7 along the Cummins Highway and taken to an emergency veterinary hospital for assessment and then transported to Boston Animal Control early the next day.

Knowing the puppy would require long-term treatment, Boston Animal Control contacted ARL and brought Petunia to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center.

While it is unknown where she came from or how she found her way to the busy roadway, ARL’s focus was to get the helpless puppy on the path to recovery.

Petunia suffered from severe demodectic mange, which is caused by mites living in the hair follicles of an animal, and results in fur loss and itchy skin.

The puppy had fur loss on the majority of her body, however, her condition was not contagious to other dogs or people.

The puppy’s course of treatment involved medicated baths twice-a-week to help soothe her skin and oral medications to clear the mange.

Her treatment lasted just over a month, and she spent her recovery time in foster care, which was pivotal in the healing process.

How You Can Animals Like Petunia

ARL is a resource, and Petunia’s recovery involved a number of ARL programs including Community and Shelter Medicine, Animal Care and Adoption, as well as ARL’s critical foster care network.

When you support ARL, you are making it possible for animals like Petunia to receive the care they need, the time they need to heal, and be provided with a quiet and nurturing environment to recover.

Please consider supporting ARL, and thank you for being a Champion for Animals in need!

ARL Attends Important Bill Signing with Governor

Governor signs abuse and exploitation measure

On June 20, 2024, Governor Maura Healey signed H. 4744, An Act to prevent abuse and exploitation, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Advocacy Department was on-hand to celebrate this big step forward to protect victims of abuse and their pets.

Among many other important provisions, this law recognizes coercive control as a form of abuse.

Coercive control is defined as “a pattern of behavior intended to threaten, intimidate, harass, isolate, control, coerce or compel compliance of a family or household member that causes that family or household member to reasonably fear physical harm or have a reduced sense of physical safety or autonomy”.  

Law Includes Animal Provision

The law includes both “threatening to commit cruelty or abuse to an animal connected to the family or household member” and “a single act intended to threaten, intimidate, harass, isolate, control, coerce or compel compliance of a family or household member that causes the family or household member to reasonably fear physical harm or have a reduced sense of physical safety or autonomy of…committing or attempting to commit abuse to an animal connected to the family or household member.”

The Link

Tragically, we know that there is a link between violence and threats of violence against pets and other household family members.

Coercive control can often include animal abuse.

Over 71% of domestic violence survivors report that their partners killed, harmed or threatened animals as a means of demonstrating authority.

Further, pets are often a major factor in whether a survivor leaves the home. Up to 48% of survivors report delaying leaving their home based on concerns regarding a pet.  

In 2012, Massachusetts allowed for pets to be included in 209A abuse prevention orders.

This law is yet another important step forward for Massachusetts to appropriately protect survivors and their pets.

Continued Advocacy

The signing of this bill by Governor Healey is incredibly important, however, there is still work to be done by the Massachusetts Legislature to protect animals in the Commonwealth before the end of the legislative session.

There are a number of potential bills that ARL will continue to advocate for, but if you are passionate about protecting animals in the state, please visit ARL’s advocacy page to see these bills and learn more how you can help! 

ARL Announces Partnership with The BASE

ARL provides internships, and educational opportunities to expose The BASE youth to careers working with animals

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is proud to announce its ongoing partnership with The BASE, a Roxbury-based academy using the power of sports to engage urban youth, and provide programs focused on college access, career development, and health and wellness.

This past week, ARL’s Spay Waggin’® also visited the Roxbury location, providing subsidized spay/neuter surgeries for over 20 pets for residents in the Roxbury community.

ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino (L), with The BASE President and CEO Steph Lewis.

The visit not only brought vital veterinary services directly where they’re needed most, but also provided an opportunity for The BASE student-athletes to observe animal welfare in action.

ARL’s partnership with The BASE began in 2021, when ARL began offering paid summer internships to student-athletes interested in a possible career in animal welfare.

One summer intern enjoyed their internship experience so much, that they became a part-time employee at ARL.

ARL has also participated in The BASE’s annual career fair, and staff from different departments have presented to students on their respective jobs, to engage those who are interested in animals but may have never considered animal welfare as a career path.

“The world of animal welfare is an extremely rewarding career,” stated Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL President and CEO. “While many young people today may have a love of animals, they may not be aware of the career options that are available to them. ARL is privileged to partner with The BASE and to be able to offer insight, guidance and encouragement for the next generation of animal advocates.”

BASE President and CEO, Steph Lewis, praised the growing partnership between the two organizations. “The BASE is proud to partner with the Animal Rescue League and we appreciate the role they have played in introducing our student-athletes to career paths in the field of animal welfare. With the Spay Waggin at our site today, we are expanding our partnership and impacting the local community in a new way, bringing ARL’s critical veterinary services to the heart of Roxbury”, said Lewis.

This past week’s visit also marked the Spay Waggin’s first visit to Roxbury, and ARL looks forward to further opportunities in this community to keep animals healthy, happy, and in homes where they belong.

Emergency Preparedness

Ensuring Your Pets are Included in Emergency Plans

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) wants to remind the public that pets need to be included as a part of planning for any emergency. When it comes to pets, it starts with having a sturdy and comfortable crate at the ready, should the need to transport your animal arise. Additionally, your pets need a go-bag to make sure they’re taken care of. The bag should be waterproof, and contain necessities for your animals including:

A sample pet emergency kit.

A sample pet emergency kit.

    • Several days’ worth of food and water
    • Portable food and water bowls
    • A manual can opener and utensils
    • Kitty litter and disposable litter boxes, newspaper, potty pads
    • Trash bags, paper towels and other pet sanitation needs
    • Pet first-aid kit
    • Collar with ID tags
    • Extra leashes
    • Grooming items
    • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof bag
    • Toys and treats
    • Bedding

Preparing this kit is also an opportunity to ensure that your pet’s microchip information is correct and up-to-date. Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests carrying a picture of you with your pet, just in case you become separated.

Preparedness is responsible pet ownership.

Future Focus: Strategic Plan Goal 3

Keep pets and people together.


Empower families and help more pets stay in their homes by expanding access to innovative community services, including low-cost veterinary care, temporary pet housing, and pet food.

Vision in Action

Fuzzy Butt, a twelve-year-old Maine Coon, came to ARL after his owner, a veteran, lost his housing due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fuzzy Butt was placed with a foster family while his dad worked to secure a place to live. His dad encountered a number of roadblocks to securing housing but after six months, Fuzzy Butt and his dad were reunited in a new living situation!

Learn more about ARL’s 2024-2028 Strategic Plan for the Future.

Fuzzy Butt, a longhaired cat laying in a kennel. A small photo is shown on the right of the cat and the owner

Fuzzy Butt being reunited with her dad after spending time at ARL


Press Release: Abandoned Puppy Found at Boston-Area Gas Station in Care of ARL

6-month-old abandoned puppy in poor condition, signs of neglect

A six-month-old puppy found abandoned at a Boston-area gas station and in poor condition is receiving treatment at the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), and ARL’s Law Enforcement Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying where the animal may have come from.

The six-month-old Shih Tzu, now named Arthur, was brought to ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center late Sunday by a person who said they had stopped at a Mobil gas station in the Boston-area, and discovered the puppy near a dumpster.

Arthur was in a filthy cat carrier and was severely matted, covered in urine and feces and also had a splint on his left front leg from a previous injury.

He did not have access to food or water.

Arthur is also emaciated and was ravenously seeking food upon arrival at ARL.

He did not have ID tags or a microchip, and X-rays revealed a toe fracture which may have been a chronic injury, and he has since been groomed and is currently on a refeeding plan to ensure safe and slow weight gain.

The abandoned puppy’s splint was removed, revealing sores on his leg due to the dressing not being changed, and he continues to be non-weightbearing on the leg due to either pain or muscle atrophy.

ARL’s goal for Arthur is to provide him with the care he needs and find him the home he deserves once he is healthy enough to made adoptable.

There is no timeline on when this may happen.

Due to his trauma, Arthur is understandably frightened and very timid with new people, however, he has demonstrated a very affectionate and trusting side as well and ARL is determined to find him the home he truly deserves once he is ready.

ARL’s Law Enforcement Department is investigating this matter and is asking anyone who may know where the dog came from to contact ARL Law Enforcement by calling (617) 426-9170 x110 or emailing cruelty@arlboston.org.

ARL understands the difficulties of pet ownership, however, the organization reminds the public that abandoning an animal is never an option.

Not only is abandoning an animal illegal, but Arthur could have been further injured or even starved to death had he not been discovered.

If you are unable to care for an animal, please reach out to ARL or your local animal control office or shelter to surrender the animal.

ARL Seeing Drastic Influx of Community Kittens

ARL only large MA animal welfare agency with dedicated community cat program

With mild winters becoming common place, there is no such thing as kitten season anymore, however, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has seen a drastic increase in the influx of community kittens from outdoor cat colonies throughout the Commonwealth in 2024.

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

One of over 60 community kittens ARL has rescued in May.

ARL is the only large animal welfare organization in Massachusetts directing resources to help community cats, and while 2023 was a record intake year with 885 community cats and kittens, 2024 is shaping up to be even busier, particularly in regards to kittens.

To date in 2024, ARL has taken in 129 kittens, 62 in May alone, compared to just 55 kittens being rescued in the same time period in 2023.

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 Field Services 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.

More information about ARL’s Community Cat Program.

ARL Field Services Hosts Cat Handling Training Session for Animal Welfare Professionals

Cat handling session continues ARL’s commitment to educational opportunities for animal welfare professionals

This week the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department hosted a cat handling training session for more than two dozen animal welfare professionals from throughout Massachusetts.

Over two dozen animal welfare professionals attended this week’s training session.

ARL is the only large animal welfare organization with dedicated staff to address community cats, and Field Services also responds to countless calls to help animals, including cats, who are in distress and need immediate assistance.

Animal control officers, shelter workers, among others, attended the informative training session which covered a variety of cat-related topics including safe-handling, trapping, overcrowding situations, and other scenarios where knowledge can go a long way to ensuring safety for the animals and people involved.

Whether it’s saving a cat from a tree, assessing and trapping in a large colony of homeless cats, addressing animal overcrowding or situations that involve cats finding themselves in precarious situations like a stray cat with a light fixture stuck on its head, or a mom and babies hiding in a crawl space – ARL Field Services agents have a wealth of knowledge and routinely collaborate with animal control officers to safely remove the animals from these situations.

ARL has a commitment to education and this training session is just one of an ongoing series of training sessions the organization holds throughout the year for animal welfare professionals.

About ARL Field Services

As part of its Community Outreach programs, ARL’s Field Services provide technical (tree climbing and swift/ice water) and non-technical rescues for injured domestic animals – including community cats – livestock, and raptors (turkey vultures, ospreys, hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls).

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

To contact Field Services, call (617) 426-9170 x563.