The ARL’s 2014 Annual Report

Thank you to our generous supporters who make our work possible

A few weeks ago, a fragile 8-year-old little white dog wandered up to a kind citizen in a parking lot, whimpering in distress.

Chicken Little, as she is now called, was missing much of her fur and had very low body weight.  Her small spine and ribs stuck out of her stick-thin frame.

The kind citizen called Dedham Animal Control, who in turn called the ARL to ask for help.

annualreport_chickenlittleFast forward to today, and Chicken Little is well on her way to recovery at the ARL’s Boston Shelter.  She is slowly putting on weight and her fur is starting to grow back.  Her spunky personality is beginning to emerge as she happily rips apart toys and tackle balls during playtime.

You can truly feel her gratitude when she looks at you with bright eyes and a happy, playful face.

Animals like Chicken Little get this chance at a better life all thanks to supporters like you.

Our Annual Report is our way of expressing our sincerest appreciation for your continued support of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

We are truly grateful that we can help thousands of animals like Chicken Little—through our law enforcement and rescue teams, community veterinary services, and our shelters—lead safer, healthier, and happier lives.

Read the ARL’s 2014 Annual Report

In 2014, the ARL rescued 15,100 animals from suffering, cruelty, abandonment, and neglect. That’s incredible considering that we receive no government or public funding and rely solely on donations from people like you.

As we approach the last quarter of the year, we ask you to consider expressing your kindness and compassion for animals with a gift to the ARL.  We still need to raise over $1.5 million to reach our budget goal and will keep you updated on our progress towards this goal throughout the Fall.

Thank you for your dedication to improving the protection and treatment of animals in our community!

Mike Thomas Celebrates 45 Years at the ARL

ARL’s Mike Thomas is there to guide owners through the final care process at Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery

Established in 1907, ARL’s Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery is the oldest pet cemetery in the country owned and operated by an animal welfare agency. The cemetery is situated on the beautiful grounds of the former summer home of ARL founder Anna Harris Smith. In fact, Anna’s own beloved pets were among the first to be buried here.

Final care is a sensitive and important time in the life of a family pet and perhaps no one understands the depth of the human-animal bond quite like Mike Thomas, caretaker of the Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery since 1970. Losing a pet is difficult, but Mike does his best to honor and bring closure to the departure of your beloved furry family member.

ARL Blog sat down with Mike to find out more about the unique and important work that he does at Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery.  Here’s what he had to say…

pine ridge pet cemetery

Did you know… that Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery is the oldest pet cemetery in Massachusetts?

ARL Blog: You’ve been working at ARL’s Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery since April of 1970. That’s 45 years! Congratulations!

Mike Thomas: Thank you! I started working at ARL’s Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery when I was 19. This is the only full-time job I’ve ever had! After all these years, it’s who I’ve become: the “pet cemetery guy.”  I feel very appreciative when families that I’ve helped in the past call and are surprised to find out that I’m still here. Nobody wants to have to see me, but when they do, they’re glad.

One thing that’s changed is the “oddness” of my job. When I first started working here in the 1970s, new acquaintances or former classmates who I hadn’t seen in a while couldn’t believe how I made my living. Today, however, the general public has much more understanding about why this work is important — in part because many people now consider their pets to be an equal member of the family.

ARL Blog: What made you remain in your job and with the ARL for so long?

MT: Initially, I fell in love with the Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery property. Then I just fell in love with what I do — helping people at a very difficult time for their family.

ARL Blog: Is there anything that makes Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery unique?

MT: Well, for one, we’ve been doing it the longest. Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery is the oldest in Massachusetts and the oldest in the country operated by an animal welfare organization. It’s also closest to the Boston Metro Area.

As far as the types of animals that we have buried or cremated here, the majority are cats and dogs, however, we have horses, rabbits, iguanas, snakes, and many other “pocket pets”, which are more common now. We even have a margay and an ocelot (wild cats native to South America) buried here!

ARL Blog: How has Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery evolved since you started working there in 1970?

MT: The cemetery didn’t look as is does today; the land was ours, but it wasn’t used. For the first 15 to 20 years I worked here, there was no tractor to dig the grave sites with; we did it all by hand and it was very difficult physically.

Since then, the cemetery has doubled in both size and in the number of families we help each year.  In 1970, we had about 69 total animals buried in our cemetery plots; today, we bury 100-200 animals per year. Additionally, our pet cremation business has gone up significantly.

ARL Blog: On the topic of cremation, more pet owners seem to choose it over burial plots. Why do you think that is?

MT: Cremation is much more cost-effective than burials, and it’s also easier to move your pet’s remains, should you ever need to. Many families choose to cremate their pet and bring the remains home. Or, if they have already buried a former pet in the cemetery, they will bury the most recent pet’s ashes in that same lot to keep all their pets together in one place.

Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery

Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery is situated on the beautiful grounds of the former summer home of ARL founder Anna Harris Smith. In fact, Anna’s own beloved pets were among the first to be buried here!

ARL Blog: How do you keep a positive attitude around your clients who are grieving? It must be difficult.

MT: My clients don’t need my sadness; they are already sad. I can’t bring your pet back, but if I can make you laugh or feel better, even if it’s for a minute or a second, then I’ve done my job. I also remind my clients that whatever final care they decide on for their pet is the right thing; there is no judgment. The only thing that I can do is to treat their pet the way I would want them to treat mine.

If a family has a pet that is terminally ill or in its last days, they’ll meet me to make the final care arrangements in advance. Then, when they know it’s their pet’s final moments, they’ll call me and I’ll get everything prepared for when they arrive at the cemetery to make the goodbye process as stress-free as possible.

ARL Blog: National Pet Memorial Day was this past Sunday, September 13. What are some ways that families can commemorate the loss of their pet?

MT: If your pet is buried in a cemetery, take a moment to think of a happy memory and leave flowers on the burial site.  At home, you can create a memorial flower garden or plant a tree or shrub in your yard. You can also volunteer your time at or donate to your local animal shelter, like the ARL.

ARL Blog: What’s the best part of your job?

MT: The best aspect of my job is just doing my work. If I don’t have my job, then I don’t have my work. I also love the people I do it for. I have a lot of repeat clients and some I’ve had relationships with for over 25 years! It’s very rewarding.

To learn more about ARL’s Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery, visit arlboston.org/pine-ridge-pet-cemetery.

It’s Back-to-School Time for Your Dog Too!

7 steps to keep your pup happy this September (Hint: Enrolling in ARL’s training courses is #7)

September is here, which means that back-to-school season is upon us. While the thought trading in swimsuits for sweaters is daunting for kids everywhere, your canine companion, believe it or not, may be feeling the end-of-summer blues too.

In a survey conducted by Pet360, 20% of pet owners with school-aged children reported that their dogs showed signs of anxiety or depression when the members of their household returned to their back-t0-school routines.

According to Dot Baisly, behavioral and enrichment manager at the ARL, any major shift in schedule or pace within the day can trigger separation anxiety in your dog. With the sudden absence of family and activity in the house, pups can become bored and may develop disagreeable behaviors, such as destructive chewing, whining, or insomnia.

dog training

The ARL offers dog training classes for puppies as young as 8 weeks old!

Here are 7 things you can do keep your dog happy as the leaves begin to turn:

    1. Ease into it. Transitioning from two months of a bustling household to 10 hours alone in silence will shock any pup’s system. In the days leading up to back-to-school, practice leaving your dog alone for an hour or two at a time. This will help teach Fido that he can enjoy his alone time, and know you’ll be back at home soon enough.
    2. Keep regular feeding times. For most pets, mealtime is an important and exciting part of their day, so it’s key to keep breakfast and dinner at the same time every day. Animals often nap after they eat, so your pooch may snooze away after a meal.
    3. Stay active. Before and after work, get in the pattern of going on a walk, run, or to your local dog park. “Your pet will be happier and healthier if he is getting the proper amount of exercise,” says Dot Baisly. “Try to work in at least 15 minutes of socializing and playtime every day as well.”
    4. Visit the vet. Just like people, animals need regular checkups too. Take your pets to their veterinarian once a year to make sure that they’re healthy.
    5. Beat boredom. Engage your pet while you’re out of the house, by leaving food puzzles for them to play with. DIY frozen dog treats, such as a KONG stuffed with yogurt and peanut butter, will keep Fido’s mouth and mind busy.
    6. Teach an “old dog” new tricks. Pick a new trick to teach your pet and have the enitre family work together on training him. Your pet will enjoy the stimulation of learning something new.
    7. Get back to class. The fall is a great time for you and your pup to bond and add an exciting and challenging element to your weekly routine. Signing up for dog training and enrichment classes will benefit your pup, your family, and everyone around you. Not only does it teach man’s-best-friend safety and good manners, it also keeps him from getting bored.

The ARL offers a variety of dog training classes at our Boston and Dedham locations as part of our commitment to supporting positive relationships between people and their pets. Our certified, experienced, and caring dog trainers help you teach your dog basic and advanced commands, manners, socializing skills, and agility training.

For more information and to enroll in a dog training class at the ARL, visit arlboston.org/dog-training.

September is Champions Circle Month

Become a Champion for animals – join the Circle!

The Animal Rescue League of Boston is celebrating our Champions all month long! In honor of our monthly donors and their ongoing support, the ARL has named September “Champions Circle Month”!

Our community of caring monthly givers provide the critical support needed to rescue animals from suffering, cruelty, abandonment and neglect ALL YEAR LONG.

In 2014, over 15,000 animals received the help and care they needed with the support of Champions. THANK YOU to our current Champions Circle members and friends for your loyal support!

Not yet a member? Learn more about joining ARL’s Champions Circle and helping animals in need now…

champions circle

Join ARL’s Champions Circle in September and help animals in need ALL YEAR LONG!

What is the Champions Circle? The Champions Circle is a dedicated community of monthly givers who support shelter animals all year long as recurring donors.

Monthly giving is a convenient, affordable, and efficient way to provide help where it’s most needed. Our members like it because they are able to give more when their donations are spread out into smaller increments.

How will my recurring gift help shelter animals? 80% of ARL’s funding comes in during the last quarter of the year- and most of that during the last 2 weeks in December.

Because animals in our shelters and our community need immediate help every day, having monthly financial support from Champions Circle donors ensures we can respond with care and assistance when and where animals need it most.

Your gift will provide year-round support, such as:

  • Emergency rescue from cruelty and neglect
  • High-quality veterinary care
  • Food, shelter, loving attention, and time to play

Are there any other perks? Yes! In exchange for your reliable generosity, all Champions Circle members receive:

  • A “behind-the-scenes” guided tour of an ARL shelter to see your gift in action
  • Annual giving statements each January for tax purposes
  • Great membership gifts*
    • *September sign-up BONUS! Join during the month of September to receive a special Champions Circle Frisbee!

Sounds great! How do I sign up? There are several ways to join ARL’s Champions Circle:

  • Use our secure online form at  arlboston.org/champions
  • Call (617) 426-9170 x615 to set up your monthly gift over the phone

To learn more about the Champions Circle, visit arlboston.org/champions

BREAKING NEWS: Lowell Puppy Tossed Out of Moving Vehicle Now Recovering at the ARL

Lowell Puppy Austin needs your help with information related to his case

**Update: Austin has been adopted!**

The ARL is seeking the public’s assistance with information regarding a puppy thrown from a moving vehicle earlier this week in Lowell, Massachusetts.

On Monday afternoon, witnesses spotted an unidentified male suspect throw a puppy out of the driver’s side window near the Tsongas Arena while his vehicle was still in motion, and speed away from the scene.

Two kind citizens had been driving behind the suspect and immediately pulled over to help the approximately 10-week-old male teacup Yorkshire Terrier, now known as Austin.  The pint-sized four pound dog appeared injured.

lowell puppy

After contacting the Lowell police department to report the incident, one of these good Samaritans rushed Austin to the Wignall Animal Hospital in Dracut for emergency medical treatment.

“When he arrived at the animal hospital, sweet little Austin was clearly shaken up from the incident,” reports Darleen Wood, Lowell Police Animal Control Compliance Officer. “He had bleeding on the left side of his jaw and neck, and could not stop drooling and crying.  He was clearly in a lot of pain.”

Hospital staff promptly treated Austin with pain medication and did a thorough exam, including full-body x-rays to check for broken bones. Overall, the emergency medical treatment incurred over $400 in veterinary expenses.

The Lowell Police animal control division contacted the ARL for assistance with Austin’s medical expenses, caring for him as he recovers, and the investigation in the case.

Make a donation to help cover Austin’s medical care and protect animals like him from cruelty and abuse in the future.

Fortunately for Austin, most of the wounds were superficial and he began to heal quickly.  He arrived at the ARL on Wednesday afternoon for further veterinary evaluation and will soon go home with a dedicated ARL foster volunteer to complete his recovery.

While officials gather camera and video footage from the area of the incident, the ARL is also asking anyone who may have information in this case to come forward to help identify the suspect or the vehicle.

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Austin needs your help! If you have any information related to his case, please contact:

Animal Rescue League of Boston’s law enforcement department: (617) 226-5610

Lowell Police Department Crime Stoppers Tip Line: (978) 459-TIPS (8477)

Dog Camping Safety

5 tips to protect your pup during your next outdoor adventure

Although back-to-school season is just around the corner, the beautiful summer weather in New England extends throughout most of September! With at least a month of more warm days ahead of us, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) continues to share important pet safety advice during our TOO HOT FOR SPOT® campaign.


Follow ARL’s 5 tips for dog camping safety to ensure a fun outdoor experience for everyone. Photo source: 50campfires.com

Planning an upcoming wilderness adventure? Call the campground in advance to confirm pet requirements; some may mandate such regulations as dogs must remain on 6-foot leash at all times and need to sleep inside your tent.

If you and your pup take the proper precautions and follow the campsite rules you’ll be both guaranteed to have fun in the great outdoors.

The ARL shares 5 tips for dog camping safety:

  1. First aid’s first. Pack a pet first aid kit to cover all types of scenarios. In preparation for more a serious situation, be sure to research emergency animal clinics in close proximity to your campsite. While park rangers are there to help, they may not have all of the medical equipment that your dog needs.
  2. Pet-proof your campsite. Before pitching that tent, thoroughly inspect the immediate area for any potentially harmful items, such as broken glass bottles or spoiled food, that previous campers left behind.
  3. Avoid roaming. Supervise your pooch at all times, even if it means keeping them on a leash or having them wear a reflective collar at night. Since your pet is not familiar with the area, they could become lost, walk too close to a campfire, ingest poisonous plants, or encounter potentially dangerous wildlife.
  4. Keep contact info current. Make sure your dog’s microchip and ID tag information is current and keep your canine companion’s collar on at all times to ensure an easy reunion should they be separated from you.
  5. Prevent parasites and illnesses. Keep your pup up-to-date on all parasite preventatives and vaccinations, such as flea and tick repellants. If you’re not certain if your pet’s vaccinations are current, contact your veterinarian. Be vigilant about checking your pet for ticks during and after your trip.

If you plan to bring Fido with you, remember that man’s-best-friend should remain by your side at all times. Never leave your pet alone in a parked car—even with the air conditioner on or the windows cracked. On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise above 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, which is why it is the most common cause of deadly heat stroke. And that’s just way too hot for Spot!

ACHOO! Pets get allergies too. If your pooch can’t stop sneezing during your fresh air activities, learn how to help keep those airborne allergens at bay.

For more summer safety tips visit: arlboston.org/summer-safety

41 Super Pets Adopted on Clear the Shelters Day

Thank you for helping ARL’s Super Pets -and shelter animals across the nation- find loving homes this summer!

clear the shelters dayOn Saturday, August 15, 2015, animal shelters across the country opened their doors for national Clear the Shelters Day– an event dedicated to finding as many animals as possible permanent homes. ARL’s shelters in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham all participated in this one-day event.

Summer is when animal shelters are at their highest capacity, so placing animals with new loving families this time of year becomes even more important.

Thanks to our amazing adopters, generous donors, and those who helped spread the word, YOU gave 41 ARL Super Pets a chance at a better life!

Super Pets like Daisy, Yoshi, Pikachu, Wendy, and Bill (pictured at right with their new family members), found their forever homes during Clear the Shelters Day! Their adopters were overjoyed to bring home their new companions, along with an awesome Super Pet Pack filled with goodies.

Remember: It’s never too late to ADOPT a Super Pet! Search adoptables

THANK YOU to our media partners NBCUniversal, NECN,  WBZ, and Clear Channel for spreading the word about the importance of animal adoptions!

…And to the ASPCA for making the Animal Rescue League of Boston a grant recipient for Clear the Shelters Day!

clear the shelters day

Pet Thunderstorm Safety

5 tips to comfort your pet during a storm (Hint: you’ll both rest easier!)

After a marathon of sizzling summer days (did someone say, It’s Too Hot for Spot®?), many New Englanders welcome the threat of a thunderstorm to cool the temperature down and reduce humidity in the air.

While a thunderstorm is an effective way for Mother Nature to give us some relief from the heat, it can also, unfortunately, be a huge source of stress for our pets.

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, there are about 100,000 thunderstorms in the United States each year. If you have a dog that suffers from astraphobia, a fancy word for “fear of thunder”, that can mean many moments of heightened anxiety for them- and some sleepless nights for you!

Common signs of astraphobia in canines include hiding, excessive whining, intense barking, frantic pacing, scratching at surfaces, or destructive chewing. For some pets, flashes of lightning, the howling of wind, drops of rain hitting the roof, or simply the change in air pressure can cause fearfulness.

If a loud boom sends your pet diving under the covers, try these 5 tips to help give your pet some much-needed comfort during a thunderstorm:

    1. Set up a safe space. Hiding is a natural instinct for pets that are fearful, so be sure to make a safe indoor area accessible to them. Many dogs consider their crate to be their “go to” hideout when their nerves kick in. Ramp-up the comfort factor by covering a wire crate with a thin sheet and placing a blanket and a couple of chew toys inside. Leave the door open so Fido doesn’t feel trapped.
    2. Cozy up with your pet. Just having you in the same room will make your pet feel safer during a storm. If your pet enjoys snuggling or being petted, stick around for some quality time. Alternatively, placing an anxiety or “thunder vest” on some of our furry friends can be equally as comforting.
    3. Distract your pet. Try to engage your pet in their favorite game or toy to help keep their mind off the storm. If your pet remains calm, give them positive reinforcement by rewarding them with treats for their bravery during the storm.
    4. Pull down the blinds. Confine your pet to a windowless room, if possible. If not, pull down the blinds and close the curtains to cut off any visual stressors.
    5. Turn on some tunes. Play calming music or turn on the TV to minimize the sound of thunder from your pet’s sensitive ears.

Should I try giving my pet anti-anxiety medications or natural supplements? If your pet shows signs of extreme stress, always consult with their veterinarian before administering any type of medication or oral supplements to make sure that the ingredients are suitable for your pet!

IT’S TOO HOT FOR SPOT®! Click here for more summer pet safety advice.

Happening Now: The ARL Joins Coalition to Improve the Protection and Treatment of Farm Animals

The Citizens for Farm Animal Protection advocates for an end to extreme confinement of farm animals in Massachusetts

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and other national and local animal welfare leaders have gathered on the front steps of the Massachusetts State House to formally announce their newly developed coalition, Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, and ballot initiative to curb animal abuse on industrial-style factory farms in Massachusetts.

The coalition aims to collect more than 90,000 signatures by Fall 2015 to help secure a spot on the 2016 ballot.

Mary Nee, president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, explains why the ARL is in support of this ballot initiative: “The cruel confinement of farm animals is inhumane and also threatens the health and safety of Massachusetts residents through increased risk of foodborne illness.  When there’s an effort to improve the protection and treatment of animals – whether they are companion, working, or farm animals – the Animal Rescue League of Boston is there to help.

The Citizens for Farm Animal Protection coalition also includes the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Zoo New England, and United Farm Workers.

citizens for farm animal protection

In many industrial animal farms, hens are forced into battery cages so small that they cannot spread their wings. Their amount of “personal space” is smaller than an iPad!

The Citizens for Farm Animal Protection’s goal is to qualify a measure for the 2016 ballot phasing out the extreme confinement of farm animals — specificallyegg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves — in small crates and cages, requiring that these animals have enough room to turn around, lay down, and stretch their limbs.

Examples of extreme confinement on industrial-style factory farms include:

  • Egg-laying hens packed into battery cages so small that they cannot spread their wings
  • Breeding female pigs restricted to two-foot wide gestational crates that don’t allow them to take more than one step forward or backward
  • Veal calves restrained in crates too narrow to turn around or fully recline

Industrial animal operations put our health at risk: cramming tens of thousands of animals into tiny cages promotes the spread of diseases.

Numerous studies show that egg operations that confine hens in cages have higher rates of Salmonella, the leading cause of food poisoning-related death in America. Animals kept in extreme confinement often live in their own waste and are pumped full of drugs that can taint the food we eat.

If the 2016 ballot becomes law, it will also ensure that shell eggs, and whole, uncooked cuts of pork and veal sold in the Commonwealth are compliant with these modest standards

Ten states in the US have passed similar laws, and farmers in Massachusetts are already required to abide by the non-confinement regulations. Additionally, many local and major food retailers, including Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s and Walmart, are currently working with food suppliers to make similar reforms.

Help protect farm animals! Look out for and sign the petition that will help secure the 2016 ballot to phase out extreme confinement on industrial-style factory farms.

Pets Get Allergies Too

The ARL shares 7 tips to help keep your pet’s allergies at bay this summer

Pet health and safety is on the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) mind all year long– especially during the summer months when the heat and outdoor activities are at their peak.  During our TOO HOT FOR SPOT ® campaign, we share advice on how to protect your pet in the warmer months. This week, we focus on a pesky condition that affects both humans and animals alike: allergies.


Is your pet showing allergy symptoms? A visit with your veterinarian can determine if your pet is suffering from airborne allergies.

Let’s face it; coping with airborne allergies is no fun for anyone. Pets with allergies develop a similar reaction to that of humans in that their immune system reacts to something that isn’t really a threat, such as tree pollen. Other typical airborne allergens include dander, dust, grasses, and mold spores.

As your cat or dog tries to rid their body of these allergens, a variety of symptoms may appear. Common symptoms of pets with allergies include: itchy and runny eyes, sneezing, snorting, snoring, increased scratching- especially of the ears, ear infections, and possibly diarrhea and vomiting.

While we can’t eliminate airborne allergens altogether, we can help keep our pet’s allergies at bay. The ARL shares 7 tips:

  1. Keep it clean. Wash your pet’s bedding and fabric toys in hot water and perfume-free detergent once a week. Frequently vacuum all materials in your home that trap dust (e.g., carpets, curtains, soafs).
  2. Close the windows to prevent allergens from coming into your home. Running an air filtration machine will also help trap sneaky airborne elements already in your home.
  3. Make bath time a weekly ritual. Allergens are easily trapped in your pet’s fur and a moisturizing oatmeal shampoo may help relieve dry, itchy skin.  Remember to rinse off your pet’s paws when they come in from the outdoors.
  4. Keep your pet cool and dry. Avoid keeping your pet in rooms where the environment lends itself to excessive moisture and dust, such as damp basements, laundry rooms, garages, or barns.
  5. Feed fresh food. Store your pet’s food and snacks in airtight containers until mealtime to avoid allergens from being ingested.
  6. Avoid cedar chips in pet beds and your pet off treated wood decks and out of cedar dog houses.
  7. Visit the vet. Only your pet’s veterinarian will be able determine whether or not your pet is suffering from airborne allergies. Your vet may recommend an antihistamine (e.g., Benadryl) or an allergy injection to help your pet develop resistance to the offending allergen.

TOO HOT FOR SPOT! For more summer pet safety advice, visit arlboston.org/summersafety.