ARL Assists Woburn ACO in Swan Rescue

Swan injured by fishing hook; reunited with family quickly

On Wednesday afternoon, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Field Services Department assisted Woburn Animal Control in capturing a swan on Horn Pond, who had been suffering for a number of days.

The male swan was injured by a small fish hook caught in his right foot which was also wrapped in fishing line.

A local favorite among those who frequent Horn Pond, the male and his mate are caring for their offspring, and both are protective and leery of unknown humans – this added an additional challenge to the rescue effort despite being close to the shore line.

With a number of bystanders looking on, ARL’s Field Services agent carefully snared the swan with a humane net, pulled him to shore and, with the help of Woburn Animal Control and a bystander who has an affinity for the swan family, able to safely place the injured animal into a crate for transport.

The swan was taken to New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth, and after a quick treatment of removing the hook, cleaning the wound and administering antibiotics and pain medication, ARL returned to Horn Pond to reunite the swan with his family just a few hours later.

Given that swans are territorial, ARL believes this is not the first time this swan has needed assistance, as Field Services rescued a swan in the same area several years ago.

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.

ARL relies on the generosity of compassionate individuals (like you!) to carry out our important work to help animals and communities in need — please help us continue this lifesaving work by making a donation.

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.

Don’t Miss This Incredible Match Opportunity

Your gift will provide critical veterinary care for a shelter animal and be MATCHED to provide care for a cherished pet, thanks to a generous matching gift provided by Jane Whitney Marshall.


When you donate today, you will help a shelter animal like Remy (pictured above), a severely underweight dog who arrived at the Animal Rescue League of Boston in dire condition, neglected, abandoned, and without hope.

Your generosity will then be matched to help a pet like Louie, who needed life-saving surgery but the cost of his care was out of reach for his owner.

Louie the cat before surgery

Last September, Louie went missing and returned home limping on a mangled left hind leg.


With your matched support, the shelter animal will receive the kindness, veterinary care, and second chance they deserve AND the pet can access the vital veterinary care they need, without being separated from the family that loves them – just like Remy and Louie!

Even in these uncertain times, the impact of your support and compassion will have a profound impact for animals like Remy and Louie.

I want to do twice as much good!

Don’t miss the opportunity to have your gift matched before the deadline on June 30, 2020.

*Any amount raised in excess of $25,000 will go to help animals, but it will not be matched.

ARL Continues its Mission During Shutdown

When the impacts of COVID-19 began to be severely felt in Massachusetts, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) did what so many other organizations and businesses did across the state – altered day-to-day operations for the health and safety of staff, volunteers, clients and the animals we care for.

While ARL placed more than 200 animals into foster care in mid-March and suspended adoption services, as an organization ARL was extremely active in helping animals in need and caring for the communities we serve.

Placing animals in foster care had multiple benefits.

First, it allowed the animals to be removed from the shelter environment, which can be stressful for some, and into a home setting.

A home setting is not only less stressful, but it also gives ARL’s Animal Care Associates a better understanding on what these animals are like in a home, making it easier to find their perfect match.

Another benefit was creating open kennel space at ARL’s Animal Care and Adoption Centers, in the event that emergency animal intakes became necessary for pet owners.


From March 16 to May 31, ARL did see a surge in intake, as 286 animals came through ARL’s doors – 134 in Boston alone.

These animals came to ARL in a variety of ways – emergency owner surrenders primarily due to COVID-19-related hardship, adopted animals returned, law enforcement cases, transport from other municipalities, among others.

The majority of the animals were cats, with 180 felines coming into ARL’s Boston, Dedham and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers.

There were 72 dogs that came through intake, the remaining 34 animals were small animals and livestock.

Law Enforcement

While adoption services were suspended, ARL’s Law Enforcement Department remained busy during the past two-and-a-half months.

From January 1, 2020 through May 15, ARL’s Law Enforcement Department had 128 new cases reported, involving 600 animals.

However, over the past two months alone, ARL Law Enforcement opened 56 new cases, involving 189 animals.

During the past two months, ARL Law Enforcement has responded to hoarding-type situations, a number of animal cruelty situations including a cat in Framingham that was shot with a high-powered pellet gun, several instances of animal abandonment, and also assisted in a number of non-cruelty cases including the return of a geriatric stray cat to its family in Winchendon.

Serving Communities in Need

Along with suspending adoption services, an additional byproduct of COVID-19 was the suspension of ARL community services, primarily the Wellness Waggin’ and Spay Waggin’ – two programs that bring veterinary services directly into the communities ARL serves.

The question was how can we still serve our communities in spite of stay at home orders and the growing impacts of COVID-19?

The answer came in the form of ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. (Supporting Animals Facing Emergencies) Program.

The program, initially funded by a $30,000 grant through PetSmart Charities®, has allowed ARL to support community partners Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC), by providing their clients with pet food and supplies and other urgent assistance.

Clients of ARL’s Wellness Waggin’ are also eligible for assistance.

ARL has provided the following services to clients who qualify for the program:

  • Deliver pet food and other essential pet supplies to clients’ homes and partner-supported community housing;
  • Pick up pets to provide critical veterinary care and return them to their owner;
  • Provide temporary emergency shelter for pets and offer pick up and return of the pet to their owner or a designated caregiver;
  • Arrange for emergency and essential surrender of pets with pick up service.

To date, the Keep Pets S.A.F.E. Program has received more than 300 requests for assistance, secured more than 75,000 individual healthy meals for pets, delivered essential supplies and pet food to more than 160 clients, and provided telemedicine or critical veterinary care to more than two dozen clients.

While Massachusetts slowly reopens, the need remains, and ARL is committed to keep this program running for as long as it’s needed to assist the communities we serve in the Greater Boston area.

For more information on ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. Program, and to see if you qualify, log onto arlboston.org/safe.

Thank you!

This important work is made possible by the generosity of people like you.

While it is difficult to predict the long-term impact of this global crisis, one thing remains constant—animals are still in need.

By lending your support, you ensure 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.

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What a Week!

ARL Resumes Adoption Services, dozens of animals find forever homes

On Monday, June 1, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) resumed what is arguably the most beloved aspect of the organization – finding forever homes for animals in need.

In its first week back, ARL found homes for 78 animals – this marks the 2nd highest total of adoptions in a one-week period in 2020!

Due to health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, ARL suspended adoption services on March 17, 2020. More than 200 animals were placed into foster care at that time, and ARL is so excited to have been able to find homes for a number of animals who have had a tough few months:

Cookie Dough
This 10-year-old cat was abandoned outside ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center in April. But this big flirt adjusted quickly and has found the perfect home to spend her golden years!

This adorable 6-month-old kitten was accidentally stepped on and suffered a severe fracture in his hind leg. Sadly the injured leg needed to be removed, but he is in a loving home and has adjusted very well!

Sadly Gardenia was found abandoned in an apartment building in Malden. She was nervous initially, but quickly warmed up and once she was made available for adoption she found her home very quickly.

An adorable 5-month-old Great Dane mix, Champ came to ARL with two of his siblings from a law enforcement situation in Western Massachusetts. Despite a hearing deficit and an ocular defect which could eventually impact his sight, Champ has found a lovely home and is thriving.

Champ’s sister! Like her brother, Rosie also suffers from the same genetic deficits, but like Champ, she has found her perfect forever home.

This fluffy 1-year-old rabbit spent nearly four months waiting for his perfect match. It was worth the wait because now Franky is the center of attention in his new forever home and is loving his new life!

A 2-year-old tabby with tons of personality! Radagast was one of more than a dozen animals removed from a hoarding-type situation in Plymouth County in 2019. A favorite of any ARL staff member who came in contact with him, this amazing cat was adopted quickly once he became available.

Peppermint, Saffron, Sage, Vanilla
This colorful bunch came to ARL from a property on Cape Cod whose owner was unable to care for them after being stuck out of state due to COVID-19. There were more than a dozen cats on the property and the others will soon be available for adoption as well!

Ready to Find Your Perfect Match?

ARL would like to thank everyone who has opened their hearts and homes for an animal in need during a time of great uncertainty.

To protect the health, safety and well-being of staff, volunteers, clients and the animals in our care, ARL will continue appointment-only adoptions for the foreseeable future.

Click here if you are interested in finding your perfect match, and once you find an animal you would like to meet, call (617) 426-9170 and dial the appropriate extension: Boston x604, Dedham x605, Brewster x305. Our staff will be happy to conduct an adoption interview with you via the phone and arrange a meeting, if both parties think it’s a good match.

Please note:

  • We are unable to conduct out-of-state adoptions at this time.
  • The public will not be permitted in the shelter or lobby waiting areas without an appointment and will be asked to limit the number of visitors.
  • Everyone must wear a protective face covering or mask that covers both the nose and mouth while at ARL facilities or community programs, or BVC, by order of the State of Massachusetts.
  • Please alert our staff if you need to request accommodation due to a medical condition by calling: (617) 426 – 9170 and dialing the appropriate extension: Boston press “0”, Dedham x605, or Brewster x305;
  • For more information on these safety requirements, visit Mass.gov.

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.