Press Release: ARL Field Services Rescues Cat Caught in Fence

‘Margot’ safe and sound and will be available for adoption soon

This past week, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department came to the aid of a friendly neighborhood stray cat in Dorchester, who found itself stuck in a chain-link fence.

A resident who regularly feeds the cat, named Margot, went into her backyard and discovered Margot stuck in the fence and crying.

She called ARL, and once agents Mike Brammer and Paul Luongo arrived on-scene, one agent held the cat still, while the other cut away a piece of the fence to free the cat. Not only was the cat uninjured, but surprisingly she was also thankful and wanted to be petted by her rescuers.

Although sad to see Margot go, the resident asked the agents if ARL would take Margot and find her a permanent home.

Margot was transported to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center for evaluation and the four-year-old cat will be made available for adoption after putting on a little weight and being spayed.

Clearly having an attachment to Margot, once she was freed from the fence the resident and her family spent some time with a friendly stray before saying goodbye.

“Huge thanks to ARL for saving Margot,” the resident wrote in a social media post. “She was stuck with the fence piercing her neck and I tried tirelessly to cut the fence with no luck (and) tears streaming down my face. We called ARL and received the best support! The team rushed out and saved her in minutes…we can’t thank you enough the boys were so happy!”

ARL will reopen for appointment-only adoption services beginning June 1. ARL Field Services has also remained busy during the pandemic, delivering food and supplies to pet owners in the Greater Boston area, as well as transporting animals in need of veterinary attention.

Is Your Dog Socializing During the Pandemic? Yes!

Socialization. So important for our pets, however during this time of social distancing and being at home more, many pet owners, particularly new pet owners, have reached out to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) with questions about socialization.

However, we first need to understand what exactly what socialization is.

When many of think of socialization for our pets, we may think of interacting with humans and other animals – but in fact, socialization is so much more than that.

Socialization begins at a very young age. For about the first year of life, the fear instinct in dogs is practically non-existent, which is a wide open window for new experiences.

During this time, we expose them to what’s considered normal in our everyday lives including: being outside, wearing a leash and collar, meeting but also seeing men, women, children, and other domestic animals. Even exposure to cars, a crate, bicycles, umbrellas, canes – all these things can be deemed as socialization.

With that being said – it’s extremely important that we expose our new puppies or adult dogs to as many new things as possible — and to pair those experiences with delicious food so they forever build a positive association to the new things that will eventually be normal to them.

But what about are current impacts to our everyday lives?

Regardless of the pandemic, your new puppy (or even new adult pet) is being exposed to new things every minute they are awake, so if you’re concerned about your pet being behind in the socialization department – don’t worry because they’re not!

And as we slowly begin to venture back into the outside world, whether it’s a beach, dog park, or Boston Common, you’ll want to take it slow for your pup, never let them off leash, and of course follow social distancing guidelines.

However, even despite staying six feet from others, we can still expose our furry friends to the world around them.

They can see unfamiliar people at a distance, hear unfamiliar noises, and also see other dogs from far away. Again, you want to pair these new “social” experiences with special treats so your pup will have a positive connection and become a well-adjusted member of the family.

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline

Pets have amazing, individual personalities, and if you get to a point where your pet’s behavior is becoming a concern, the Animal Rescue League of Boston offers a FREE behavior helpline to answer questions about dogs, cats, and small animals. For assistance, call (617) 226-5666, or email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org.

Heading Back to Work May Increase Pet Anxiety

7 Tips to keep in mind as we transition into reopening phase

We’ve all been home more the last couple of months, and that’s turned into a great time to bond with a new pet, or a chance to spend some extra time with an animal you’ve had for a number of years.

But as we slowly begin to get back to work and restrictions start to lift, you’ll be out of the house more, and that may trigger anxiety, especially for new pets.

Animals are extremely intuitive, and when we get back to rushing around in the morning, you may begin to see some signs of anxiety, particularly in dogs and cats, which can include: following you around more; becoming needier; excessive barking; house soiling; destructive behavior; or general signs of depression.

The onset of these behaviors can be frustrating, especially for new pet owners, but the best remedy to combat this type of anxiety? Routine.

Here are 7 small things that you can build into your morning or evening routine that can help alleviate anxiety:

  1. Along with a morning walk (following social distancing guidelines of course), build in a five-minute play session and be sure to add in a special treat. When you leave the house, do not give a big “goodbye” as this could add to the animal’s anxiety when you leave.
  2. Before you leave, give your dog a food-stuffed toy or food puzzle to distract them for the initial half hour after you leave. For cats, give them a perch where they can distract themselves by watching birds and the outside world; or hide pieces of dry food around the house to give them another activity.
  3. Leaving a radio on can also work wonders. Hearing voices or soft music can ease your pet’s anxiety and assure them that they’re not alone.
  4. For dogs, a dog-walking service can provide a wonderful mid-day break and offer interaction with people. If you’re away for more than 8 hours, a doggie daycare facility may also be worth looking into – YOU are your pet’s advocate and ARL’s Kennel-9 Safety Campaign urges pet owners to ask 9 important questions when researching a doggie day care facility.
  5. When you get home, set aside 10 minutes to play with your pet. For cats, bring out some special toys and get them moving, and at the end of the session a special treat or some catnip to roll around in makes them even happier!
  6. Dogs are natural greeters, so when you arrive home, it’s important to reward them for calm behavior rather than talking, touching or making eye contact when they’re at the highest point of excitement. They will learn to self soothe their excitement and calm down quicker when you arrive home, again helping their anxiety and stress.
  7. After dinner interaction with the entire family is also important to let them know they’re loved and important.

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline

Pets have amazing, individual personalities, and if you get to a point where your pet’s behavior is becoming a concern, the Animal Rescue League of Boston offers a free behavior helpline to answer questions about dogs, cats, and small animals. For assistance, call (617) 226-5666, or email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org.

ARL Instructs MSP Recruits on Animal Protection Laws

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently provided instruction to the 240 members of the Massachusetts State Police 85th Recruit Training Troop.

The virtual instructional block marked the second consecutive year that ARL has addressed MSP Recruits in every aspect of animal cruelty laws and enforcement.

ARL’s collaborative animal cruelty manual is now standard reading for a number of Massachusetts law enforcement agencies.

The training was provided prior to the Training Troop’s May 6 swearing-in. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the two-hour class was conducted virtually.

During the session, cadets were instructed by ARL staff in a number of areas, including:

  • Definition and types of animal cruelty and what signs for police officers to look for;
  • Existing animal protection law in Massachusetts;
  • The link between violence against animals and violence against people; and
  • Resources at the disposal of the Massachusetts State Police which include ARL and local Animal Control Officers.

For ARL, training those in law enforcement is essential for not only rescuing animals suffering cruelty, neglect and abuse, but to also hold those responsible for harming animals to be held accountable.

“Massachusetts State Police Troopers are on the front lines of law enforcement in the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Alan Borgal, ARL Director of Law Enforcement. “It’s crucial for Troopers to be armed with the knowledge to take proper actions when encountering animal cruelty, and to understand that organizations like ARL are always available to assist in any animal-related situation.”

“ARL is tremendously proud to be a part of such an intense training program,” said ARL President and CEO Dr. Edward Schettino. “With Troopers understanding not only how to recognize animal cruelty but also how it can correlate to violence acts against humans, will ultimately save the lives of both animals and people.”

The Massachusetts State Police are grateful for the important training provided by ARL.

“Enforcing animal cruelty laws is an important duty of Massachusetts State Police Troopers and all police officers,” said Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “We are very grateful to the Animal Rescue League of Boston for providing important instruction to our last two Recruit Troops in how to recognize cruelty and take action to protect animals from abuse. We value the ARL’s partnership and efforts to ensure that our Troopers have the knowledge they need to assist in this mission.”

In the past year, ARL has conducted training for more than 500 law enforcement officers and officials through the Commonwealth.

Press Release: Animals Being Abandoned Outside ARL Shelters

ARL Reminds Pet Owners if Surrender is Necessary – Do it Properly

With three animals being abandoned on Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) property in the past week, ARL is once again reminding pet owners that if they need to surrender an animal to please take the proper steps to do so.

Last week a pair of guinea pigs were discovered about 1,000 feet from the Animal Care and Adoption Center doors in Dedham, and on Monday, a cat was discovered outside ARL’s Boston shelter doors.

The guinea pigs were found in a urine-and-feces-soaked box with a hand-written message reading “Adopt me, I’m cute.” Because the former owners did not contact anyone inside the shelter, it was sheer luck that an ARL employee discovered the small box while leaving for the day.

Similarly, the cat was found outside in a carrier, also with a hand-written note describing difficult personal circumstances. Due to COVID-19, all animals involved are being quarantined for 14 days in case of a possible exposure to the virus.

Unfortunately, this can be a common occurrence for ARL, as well as other animal welfare organizations.

“When people inside the shelter building are unaware that an animal has been left outside, that is considered abandonment, which is a felony in Massachusetts,” said ARL Law Enforcement Director Lt. Alan Borgal. “When this happens the animals are put at risk by being exposed to the elements, animal predators and a variety of other threats, and sadly we have seen a number of instances where the animal wasn’t found until it was it was too late.”

ARL is committed to keeping pets and families together, and will explore all options to make that possible. However, ARL does understand that circumstances do arise where the animal may not remain in the home, and if that happens, pet owners need to reach out to make sure the surrender is done properly.

“Surrendering an animal is certainly not an easy decision,” Lt. Borgal said. “However, ARL as an organization exists to help both animals and people, and if surrender is necessary, there are no judgements, no shaming, no accusations. We just want what’s best for both the animal and people involved. Additionally, surrender gives us, as animal care givers, the opportunity to learn more about the animal’s behavior and habits, which further helps ARL find a suitable match for a new home.”

Once their quarantine period expires and adoptions resume at ARL, these animals will find new forever homes.

ARL Law Enforcement is investigating the incident in Dedham, and asks that anyone with information pertaining to the situation to please contact ARL Law Enforcement at 617-426-9170, or via email cruelty@arlboston.org.

If you need to surrender an animal, please contact ARL’s Boston, Dedham, or Brewster Intake Offices at 617-426-9170.

Press Release: Week-Old Kitten Abandoned in Dorchester – ARL Law Enforcement Investigating Incident

Disclaimer: This news release contains details about an alleged instance of animal cruelty that may be upsetting to some readers. 

This past weekend, a concerned citizen helped rescue an abandoned kitten who was found in a residential neighborhood in Dorchester.

Unfortunately the kitten was unable to survive.

The male kitten, estimated to be just 1-2 weeks old, was found with a plastic bag covering his head and cinched around his neck, and the resident who found him needed a knife to cut the bag in order to free the kitten.

The resident contacted the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department, who immediately responded to the area on Norfolk St.

Sadly, just days after being rescued, the kitten developed Fading Kitten Syndrome, and did not survive.

ARL’s Law Enforcement Department is investigating the matter as an act of animal cruelty and abandonment, as it’s believed the bag was placed over the kitten’s head intentionally.

This action is also believed to have directly contributed to the animal’s decline and untimely death.

“This is a sad day at ARL, however we remain steadfast and committed to discovering who may have committed this act of cruelty on a defenseless kitten,” said ARL President Dr. Edward Schettino. “If anyone has any information, we plead for you to reach out so we may give this kitten some peace and perhaps save the lives of more vulnerable animals.”

Animal cruelty is a felony in Massachusetts, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Anyone with information on this act of animal cruelty is urged to contact ARL Law Enforcement at 617-426-9170, or via email cruelty@arlboston.org.

You’re invited… to #GivingTuesdayNow!

You’re invited to two special virtual celebrations TODAY through Tuesday, May 5, 2020, for #GivingTuesdayNow!

#GivingTuesdayNow is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by the coronavirus.

You have a chance to join your fellow animal lovers and show that compassion can’t be quarantined – and that you are there for vulnerable animals when they need it most.

kitten shower button
Pet prom button

Let’s harness the power of hope during this uncertain time to make a difference for the animals who love us unconditionally and bring us comfort.

kitten shower

Quarantine won’t stop kitten season, and vulnerable animals need you now more than ever!

These tiny creatures, born outside and at the mercy of the elements, are at risk of injury, disease, or worse.

Although safety precautions have meant that Trap-Neuter-Return services have been paused for now – you have the opportunity to intervene and help kittens get the chance they deserve at a safe and healthy life in a home.

Your support today means that fragile kittens can count on medical care, special food, round-the-clock care in a foster home, and the promise of a brighter future.

How you can make a difference on #GivingTuesdayNow:

  1. Make a gift to give kittens the care they need now. Gifts of $100 or more made by Tuesday, May 5, 2020, will be recognized on the Kitten Kuddler Wall of Honor!
Symbolic Gifts - Kitten Shower

2. Send critically needed supplies from our Kitten Shower Registry

3. Set up a Facebook Fundraiser and help even more kittens

4. RSVP to our Facebook Event to get exclusive first look kitten photos and your chance to win the “Cutest Cat” photo contest!

5. Have you found kittens outside and don’t know what to do? Resist the temptation to interact or touch them, and call ARL right away by dialing (617) 426-9170, then press “1” and “1” again. Click here to read more and download our flyer.

Pet Prom invite

Compassion can’t be quarantined. One thing remains certain and that is animals are still in need – and they need you now more than ever!

Your support today ensures that animals in Massachusetts can get the care they count on including food, sanctuary, medical care, love, and emergency rescue if they are in danger.


How you can make a difference on #GivingTuesdayNow:

  1. Make a gift to give animals the care and love they deserve. Gifts of $100 or more made by Tuesday, May 5, 2020, will be recognized on the Prom Court Wall of Honor
Symbolic gifts

2. Send critically needed supplies to our Animal Care & Adoption Centers

3. Set up a Facebook Fundraiser and help even more animals

4. RSVP to our Facebook Event to get exclusive behavior tips and your chance to win the “Prom King/Queen/Royalty” photo contest

Thank you for being an unwavering champion for animals in need.

We hope you, your loved ones, and furry or feathered friends, remain healthy and safe!

4 Facts About Captive Big Cats

We know that big cats, most notably tigers, have come up as a fresh topic of conversation.

Sensational stories may be entertaining, but the animals at the center of these stories are often subjects of misinformation that further endangers them.

Here are 4 facts about captive big cats that you should know:

  1. Big cats are wild animals, not pets.

Baby tiger and lion cubs can look a lot like their domestic feline friends. However, this is short lived. Tigers can weigh 100lbs by the time they are six months old, and adults weigh 300-600lbs depending on the subspecies.

Adult tigers eat an all meat diet averaging from 13-15lbs of meat a day, although in the wild tigers are more likely to eat a larger kill every few days.

Tigers are hunters and can seriously injure untrained (and even trained) humans. Often times, private ownership results in these animals having to be surrendered to capable facilities when care of the animal becomes dangerous.

  1. More tigers live in captivity in the United States than live in the wild.

Tigers are an endangered species. It is estimated that only 3,900 of these majestic animals live in wild habitats in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, anywhere from 5,000-10,000 tigers live in captivity in the US. Much of the increase in captive population comes from intentional breeding, meant for monetary gain.

Cubs are often taken from their mothers immediately, limiting socialization and development that would naturally happen in the wild.

These tigers are unsuitable to be released into a wild habitat, and must spend their lives in captivity.

  1. Not all habitats are created equal.

Cat owners understand that although cats may like small spaces, such as boxes, they need adequate space and enrichment.

Big cats, like tigers, are no different.

Tigers need adequate space, shelter, and food.

Tigers in the wild often have home territories of hundreds to thousands of square miles.

Tigers in roadside zoos may have small enclosures, while tigers in other zoological parks or sanctuaries may have large habitats with enrichment.

  1. The laws relating to ownership and sale of big cats vary by state.

While some states prohibit ownership of big cats, others require a license or even have no prohibitions.

Current federal law only prohibits selling these animals across state or national lines, allowing individuals to sell or transfer within state lines as long as it is legal.

Even across state lines, those with specific federal licenses can transfer animals.

There are federal proposals, including the Big Cat Safety Act, that would close existing loopholes and create nationwide standards for big cat ownership.

This pending legislation would prohibit all public contact with big cats, and require local animal control and law enforcement to be notified of all owned big cats.

Public safety is at risk when there are big cats in unsuitable facilities, both to those visiting the facility and the surrounding areas.

Know before you go…

Before planning a family trip to see big cats in a facility, do your research.

Humane practices will not allow for the public to interact with big cats, and will not force the animals to engage in shows for public entertainment.

The USDA conducts inspections of facilities that exhibit to the public, and these inspection records are public.

ARL has advocated for these records to be kept public so consumers can research those that claim to provide services to animals.

We Love our Volunteers!

National Volunteer Appreciation Week

Not that we need a reason to celebrate our amazing volunteers, but this week marks National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 19-25).

Normally ARL would commemorate this week with celebratory events at our Boston, Dedham and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers – however we are not living in normal times.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these events have been postponed, but we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight something that’s at the center of every volunteer – the compassion to join a cause that’s close to their heart.

Volunteers are mission critical for ARL, whether serving as ambassadors for the organization, working with behaviorally-challenged animals, comforting a frightened cat or dog, mucking horse stalls, changing litter boxes, or performing a myriad of other tasks – volunteers achieve countless selfless acts of kindness everyday and ARL is grateful.

In 2019, ARL’s 763 volunteers donated more than 38,000 hours of their time to help animals in need – that’s the equivalent of 18 full-time staff members!

Below are pictures of ARL’s 2019 Volunteer Appreciation Events.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, ARL has limited volunteer access to our Boston, Dedham and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers, but volunteers are still having a tremendous impact on ARL’s ability to weather this storm.

Approximately 160 shelter animals have been placed into ARL’s foster care network since the outbreak of COVID-19, and this act of kindness has multiple benefits.

Animals in foster care receive a respite from the shelter environment, and can benefit from one-on-one interaction to help overcome any behavioral challenges. Additionally, animals in foster care give ARL’s animal care associates a better idea of how the animals behave and act in a home setting.

Additionally, placing these animals into foster care has allowed ARL to free-up kennel space, in the event that animals need to be surrendered or temporarily housed by those affected by COVID-19.

Why Volunteer?

First and foremost, nonprofit organizations like ARL simply could not have such a wide reach to help animals in need without volunteers. Volunteers are integral members of the ARL family.

But volunteering has benefits beyond caring and participating in such a worthwhile cause.

About 63 million people, or 25% of the U.S. population, donate their time and talents to worthy causes.

In addition to making a difference in the community, volunteering has been shown to improve a person’s health by increasing physical activity, enhancing your mood and decreasing stress.

Another bonus?  The majority of hiring managers nationally see volunteerism as an asset in candidates seeking employment.

Thank You

ARL looks forward to its annual volunteer appreciation events later this year, but in the meantime we are so grateful to each and every volunteer who helps ARL fulfill its mission to be a Champion for Animals.

If you are interested in volunteering at ARL, please click here for more information and THANK YOU!

Animals and COVID-19

CDC, USDA Release New Report

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced that two pet cats in New York have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

According to the CDC and USDA, the cases occurred in two separate areas of New York State and are the first pets in the United States to test positive.

The cats, who have mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery, appeared to have contracted the illness from their owners who were sick with COVID-19.

To read the report in its entirety, click here.

Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, and the fact is, while cats and dogs are susceptible to coronavirus, there remains no evidence that pets can pass the virus onto others. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected by COVID-19.

Given this news and with many unknowns about the virus, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) concurs with, and recommends that pet owners heed the following CDC recommendations:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the home
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people
  • Walk dogs on leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people or animals
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where people with animals may gather

For those who are suspected to carry the illness or have already tested positive, the CDC recommends:

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them

ARL reiterates that while cats and dogs may be susceptible to coronavirus, if you are practicing good hygiene, social distancing and other precautions, you, along with your pets, will have a lower risk of infection.

ARL Response

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, ARL has taken a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, clients, and the animals we serve.

At this time ARL has not altered programs, services or protocols to support animals in need, or the people who care for them during this time of uncertainty. ARL remains committed to serving our communities and to take every measure to keep pets and families together.

For more information on ARL’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Resources and Answers to your FAQs

For more information on animals and COVID-19, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

For more information about testing in animals, see: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/one_health/downloads/faq-public-on-companion-animal-testing.pdf