Things to Know About the Rescue Services Department

Here are some factoids about ARL of Boston’s Rescue Services from Rescue Services Manager Brian O’Connor.

The average number of rescues per day is about 20, although a few weeks ago the activity number hit 52. “Everyone was pretty tired after that,” says Brian. “It was just nonstop.”

Geographically, rescues are not limited to Greater Boston. ARLB rescue teams have routinely gone out to Western Massachusetts and even out of state to give assistance to other agencies, as well as assisting with disaster relief responses (such as Hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Katrina, as well as last years flooding in Iowa).

“We’re not bound by any city or town ordinances like a lot of municipalities and animal control officers, so it’s basically whatever we have for staffing levels on a given day how far we think we can handle going,” says Brian (pictured above).

Rescue Services can handle more than one rescue at a time. “We have several vehicles our rescue fleet if you will,” Brian explains. “A lot of rescues are single person rescues of an injured animal – all of our staff members are well equipped to handle that if it’s pretty straightforward. Some cat-in-tree rescues can take a couple people. The rescue of a cat in a sewer took quite a few people over a long period of time. That’s another thing, some of these rescues take five minutes and others can take five hours or several days to complete.”

Rescue Services does things that many other organizations or agencies don’t do, so when they get the calls they’ll refer them to ARLB. “Many other humane societies don’t have a field rescue division, so they call us when an animal needs to be rescued,” says Brian. “In addition, many local Animal Control Officers are dog officers – they don’t deal with anything except for dogs, so if it’s a cat or wildlife issue, they refer people to us. We have excellent relationships with a lot of Animal Control Officers. We can certainly call them if we need a favor or two.”

Members of Rescue Services aren’t part of Law Enforcement Department, although they both fall under a new “Center for Animal Protection” umbrella headed by Alan Borgal. “There can be crossover assistance between the two departments. We rely on Law Enforce Department for assistance for certain things and they rely on us for assistance with certain things,” says Brian.

Rescue Services uses a “triage” system when calls come in. According to Brian, “When calls come in to dispatch, the dispatcher takes all the information. In some cases they can just simply consult and give some resolution to that person over the phone – it may just be some advice or education. In other cases if it warrants sending someone out they’ll prioritize calls as urgent, a moderate emergency or something that can wait if we need to adjust everything.”

Rescue calls vary by season. “In springtime we get a lot of infant or orphaned wildlife, because that’s when a lot of baby animals are born, says Brian. “In spring and summer the cat calls go up because cats are having litters an outdoor cat may get hit by a car and leave an orphaned litter running around the neighborhood. Obviously in the winter we get our ice rescue calls. Cats are stuck in trees all year round – it doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason.”Calls also increase during the summer, in part because it’s lighter out longer and people are out for most of the day so they see more.

Oddest Rescue: “Both the Rescue Department and Law Enforcement were involved when Little Joe, a several-hundred-pound silverback gorilla escaped from Franklin Park Zoo. “That has to be one of the rarest calls you could possibly imagine.”

Most Dangerous Rescue: According to Brian, “We try not to do dangerous rescues. A lot of the training we do, swift water training in particular, the tree climbing we do that so we have a safety factor built into the rescues that we‘re doing even the ice rescues. So if we were to consider it beyond our scope as to what we could do well and safely, we wouldn’t do it.”

He continues, “Then again, I’ve been a hundred feet up a pine tree rescuing a cat. Some people would consider that dangerous, but I felt completely safe and harnessed in. It was a good solid tree and it just happened to be 100 feet up in the air.”

Rescue technicians conducting emergency exercises with "Fetch" - the League's mannequin training dog.

Worst Rescue: “A lot of the big rescues seem to happen in the worst weather possible. Five or six years ago when we had really bad ice storms, we got a call about a dog that was loose in Buckland, out in Western Massachusetts. What was worse, the dog would only come out late at night. So we were out there until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning with 25 below zero wind chill factor trying to catch this dog. With wind chills of that nature and it was just miserable.”

What about skunks? “Nah, skunks are pretty passive animals unless you frighten them. They just don’t know that they’re in danger. A real common skunk call is a skunk falling into a window well and not being able to get out because they’re bad climbers.”

Birds with broken wings? Rescue Services gets many calls for hurt birds. “There are several wildlife rehabilitators who will take care of the animal and rehabilitate them but have no way to go out and get the animal. We suggest to callers that they try to contain the bird and take it to the rehabilitators, but in many cases the person calling may be a passerby on the way to work: ‘I saw it at this location and it looked injured…’ So we’ll go out and get the animal and transfer it. It’s a bit time consuming but the other option is to leave the animal to suffer the fates of whatever may come along.”

Pizzeria Uno “Dough Raiser” to Benefit the Animal Rescue League of Boston

From Friday June 25th to Sunday June 27th, Pizzeria Uno will donate up to 20% of their proceeds from any customers who present a special coupon that we are distributing through our website, via e-mail, and with paper copies in all of our three shelters.  You may dine-in the restuarant or order take-out! The participating Pizzeria Uno locations are:Boston: Copley Square: 731 Boylston Street

Dedham: 270 Providence Highway

Hyannis: 574 Iyanough Road, Rte. 132

Click here for maps and directions to these locations.

The promotion is valid all their open hours on these two dates and, unlike many cause marketing deals, includes both take-out orders and alcoholic beverages. Please see their website at for more general information.

Start Date: Friday, June 25th, 2010
End Date: Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Catstravaganza 2009 Raffle Winners

Thanks for entering Boston Veterinary Care’s “Catstravaganza” raffle. And the winners are …

1st Prize:   DeLonghi espresso/cappuccino maker, large bag of Science Diet pet food

Winner: Melanie Nash

2nd Prize:  $20 Starbucks gift card, small bag of Science Diet pet food

Winner: Richard White

3rd Prize:  Small bag of Science Diet pet food

Winner: Hany Girgis

Please call BVC at 617-226-5631 to let us know what type of Science Diet pet food you would like. To pick up your prize, please click here for our hours of operation and address. Congratulations to all of the winners!


Randolph Puppy Rescue


The Animal Rescue League of Boston will be accepting adoption applications for theRandolph dogs through the end of day on Sunday, December 14th. If you are interested in adopting, you can fill out an application at our Boston Branch at 10 Chandler Street, Boston,MA 02116 or email our adoption center for an application at If you have questions about our adoption requirements, you can find them here.

Because many of the dogs are being adopted by their foster homes, we are not yet sure how many of the dogs will become available for general adoption. As they become available, we will screen applicants to match the dogs with an adoptive home. If you have a breed preference, please feel free to share that with us, although ultimately our matches will be based on personality of the particular dog.


DECEMBER 1 UPDATE: Judge Paul A. Chernof of Norfolk Superior Court signed the final order of custody for 104 dogs and puppies to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, drawing an end to ongoing legal proceedings that began in May of 2008. The defendant, LindaSnow, was indicted on July 16 and pled guilty to several counts of animal cruelty in October. The ARL of Boston initially seized 88 dogs, including several pregnant mothers who delivered puppies while in the ARL of Boston’s care.

The majority of dogs are expected to be adopted by the foster parents who have provided loving homes over the past seven months. The ARL of Boston is currently in the process of contacting foster parents about the adoption process. We will update our website if/when any of the dogs become available for adoption to the general public, so please check back periodically for updates.

As the largest law enforcement/rescue case in the ARL of Boston’s 109-year history, we offer our heartfelt gratitude to the many wonderful foster parents who helped us house and care for these dogs. To read a recent article about this foster care network, please click here.

To view media coverage concerning the case, please click here.

JUNE 3 UPDATE: Through the generosity of PETCO, many of the dogs and puppies rescued have been washed and groomed. Additionally, PETCO has set up collection bins for dog-related items (blankets, towels, Kongs, nylabones, etc.).

MAY 31 UPDATE: The staff from the Animal Rescue League of Boston wish to thank the public for their outpouring of support for the 90 dogs rescued on May 29. Due to the ongoing law enforcement investigation, the dogs and puppies are not available for adoption at this time.

MAY 29 UPDATE: Staff from the Animal Rescue League (ARL) ofBoston’s Rescue Services, Law Enforcement, Veterinary, and Shelter Departments were called upon to lead the rescue of 90 dogs and puppies from a home in Randolph, Massachusetts. Working in conjunction with the Randolph Police Department, RandolphAnimal Control, and the State Department of Agricultural Resources, the ARL of Boston executed a search warrant and found approximately 90 dogs and puppies abandoned and living in deplorable conditions. Throughout the course of the day and night, ARL of Boston staff carefully examined each animal before transporting them to ARL of Boston facilities and other animal control facilities. The dogs and puppies will undergo further medical evaluations and will receive high-quality care and support during the active law enforcement investigation.


Attention City of Boston Residents

The City of Boston is sponsoring one final rabies clinic in 2008 from

 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday November 8, 2008

The clinic will be held at the City of Boston Animal Shelter at 25 Mahler Road in Roslindale. Click here for directions

The cost of the vaccination is $5.00 Dogs must be on a leash & cats must be in a carrier. If possible, please bring any records you have of your pets’ previous vaccinations.

Join the Animal Rescue League of Boston for Comedy Night, October 25, 2008

Comedy Night 2008
October 25, 2008
at Anthony’s of Malden
105 Canal Street, Malden

6:00 – 9:00 PM

Free Parking- Cash Bar- Casual Dress Please!


Brian Kiley           Larry Myles

Tickets: $25 – includes dinner buffet at 6:30 and comedy show at 8:00 followed by a raffle and dancing with DJ Gary Wilson

To buy tickets, please call 617-226-5600.

The evening also includes a raffle for a large screen TV. Raffle tickets are sold separately and cost $5 for one ticket, $20 for five tickets.

Click here for more information

 All proceeds to benefit the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Rescue Services


Click here for directions to Anthony’s of Malden

Animal Rescue League of Boston to Participate at the 2008 Equine Affair this November

The Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston’s Horse and Livestock Program will be participating at the 2008 Equine Affair in West Springfield this November.  During the three-day event, we will be showcasing pictures of some of our horses available for adoption.

Our Rescue Services Department will also display much of the equipment used during horse rescues such as an Anderson Sling, our emergency rescue sled and much more.

Our Horse Adoption staff and volunteers will be available to answer any questions and provide information about our equine and livestock adoptions, equine technical emergency rescues, as well as information about our Law Enforcement Department that investigates animal cruelty and neglect complaints.

For more information about Equine Affair, visit their website at:

Boston Veterinary Care Ice Cream Social for Dogs

The staff and veterinarians at Boston Veterinary Care invite you and your pooch to a complimentary ice cream social for dogs at the Joe Wex Dog Recreation Space at Peters Park (Boston’s South End).

WHAT: Ice Cream Social for Dogs! (and the people in their lives)

WHERE: The Joe Wex Dog Recreation Space at Peters Park, 1277 Washington Street, South End, Boston

WHEN: Tuesday, August 12 from 4-7pm (raindate: Wednesday, August 13, 4-7pm)


  • Cool treats from the Sundae Bar at Polka Dog Bakery
  • Summer fun snap shots of you and your pet by acclaimed portrait photographer Cheryl Richards




Meet and chat with Boston Veterinary Care’s Director Martha M. Smith, DVM, and specialists in animal behavior and nutrition from Boston Veterinary Care.

Cool treats for all, friends galore, summer tunes – please join us!

Thunderstorms Bring Dangers of Loud Noises Home

Many dogs are afraid of loud noises a problem that takes on additional importance this time of year, with 4th of July Fireworks celebrations in most communities.  Recently, one of our own employees’ dogs became frightened during a thunderstorm and chewed through a screen door to escape.  Staff members and friends are now scouring a Stoneham neigborhood (click here for enlarged map) to find “Old Dirty” (left), a 60-lb and very sweet pit bull mix.

On June 30, specially-trained rescue technicians from the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston, staff, and friends scoured the Stoneham neighborhood where Old Dirty was last seen.

If you see Old Dirty, please call the Animal Rescue League of Boston at 617-426-9170.

Stoneham Sun News Story About Old Dirty


Loud Noises And How Dogs React

Dr. Amy Marder, director of the Center for Shelter Dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Boston and noted animal behaviorist, commented “Due to unusually intense and frequent thunderstorms, this season has been exceptionally bad for dogs and cats with noise phobias.  While most fearful dogs shake, pant and pace, some will attempt to escape, especially when left alone.”

There are things that you can do to help your pet be more comfortable during these times:

  1. Blocking the noise through the use of window fans and air conditioners helps many animals. 
  2. Showing your dog or cat to a quiet, safe area, such as a basement, closet or padded crate may also be appreciated. 
  3. Some phobic animals require the use of anti-anxiety medication to help them be comfortable. 
  4. Contact your veterinarian if you think that your dog or cat needs medication.

If your dog is fearful of loud noises, please take extra precautions during the Fourth of July. Doors, fences, and other enclosures that might keep your dog safe normally might not be sufficient during a storm.  Consider taking your pet to visit a friend somewhere that the noise from fireworks is minimal, and if you do need to be home, be sure your dog is securely contained and that there are no opportunities to escape through screens, gates, or fences. If your dog does become lost, waste no time in calling your local animal control officer.

The Massachusetts Animal Coalition has a very informative website detailing all the steps you can take to maximize your chances of finding a lost pet:


June Is Adopt-A-Cat Month

June is national “Adopt-a-Cat Month”. To celebrate, all adoptions of cats one year of age and over will be discounted.


Foster Care Baby Shower

Boston – Sunday June 1st  1-4 PM
Dedham – Sunday June 1st  1-4 PM
Brewster – Saturday June 7th  1-4 PM

Click here for more details!

In celebration of Adopt-A-Cat Month, Boston Veterinary Care is pleased to host a free Soft Paws clinic on Sunday, June 15 from 1- 4 pm.  Bring your cat or cats and Free Soft-Paws & Nail Trimming Clinic

Boston Veterinary Care  – Sunday June 15th – 1-4 PM

In celebration of Adopt-A-Cat Month, Boston Veterinary Care is pleased to host a free Soft Paws clinic on Sunday, June 15 from 1- 4 pm.  Bring your cat or cats and we will trim their nails and apply Soft Paws nail caps at no charge.  All cats must have a current rabies vaccine to be eligible.  Boston Veterinary Care is located at 10 Chandler Street in Boston’s South End.

Kids T-shirt Making!

Boston Adoption Center  – Sunday June 22nd – 1-4 PM

In celebration of Adopt-A-Cat Month, bring the kids to the Boston Adoption Center Lobby on Sunday, June 22 from 1- 4 pm where they can make their own cat T-shirts!

Weekly Raffles

Boston – Throughout the month of June every cat adopter will be eligible to enter a raffle for great prizes!  Winners will be drawn weekly.

Thanks Adopters!!! The total number of cats adopted in June: 218