Massachusetts Animal Control Officer of the Year

The Animal Rescue League of Boston and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are pleased to announce that nominations are now being accepted for the annual Massachusetts Animal Control Officer (ACO) of the Year award.

The award was established to honor an animal control officer whose efforts in his/her local community throughout the year demonstrate:

  • a dedicated, humane attitude toward the treatment and well-being of all animals
  • effective enforcement of pet responsibility laws
  • a commitment to public awareness and humane education programs
  • cooperative working relationships with other agencies, such as state and local government departments, other ACOs, and animal protection groups

Nominations should be submitted in writing and may come from government officials, other officers, animal protection organizations, or private citizens. Submissions should explain how the nominee has met the above criteria and should be sent to both:

Alan Borgal
Animal Rescue League of Boston
10 Chandler Street
Boston, MA 02116

Kara Holmquist
350 South Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02130

The deadline for nominations is September 27, 2018.

September is Champions Circle Month!

All month long we’re celebrating our Champions

In honor of our monthly donors and their ongoing support, ARL is celebrating our Champions Circle members!

The Champions Circle is a special group of friends who support animals as recurring donors. Though we are celebrating them this month, our community of monthly givers provide the critical support needed to keep animals safe and healthy all year long.

Thank you to all our Champions Circle members for your loyal support!

Not yet a member? Now is the perfect time to join! 

Monthly giving is a convenient, affordable, and efficient way to provide help where it’s most needed.

When you become Champion Circle member, your gift each month will provide animals with…

  • Emergency rescue, anti-cruelty efforts, and advocacy to keep them safe
  • High-quality veterinary care to get them healthy and keep them that way
  • Shelter and adoption services to find them permanent homes

In exchange for your reliable generosity, you will receive…

  • Opportunities to receive a behind the scenes tour of our shelter to see your gift in action
  • Annual giving statements each January for tax purposes
  • Membership gifts

There are many way to join…

  • Use our secure online form by clicking here
  • Or call Derek at (617) 426-9170 x162 to set up your monthly gift over the phone

Join the Champions Circle before September 30 and receive a special 2019 Champions Circle calendar!

*Please allow 4 weeks for delivery


What to Know About Canine Influenza

This past week, the first case of canine influenza of the year in Massachusetts was confirmed, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) wants to remind dog owners that canine influenza is highly contagious and precautions should be taken.

What is Canine Influeza?

Canine influenza is a respiratory infection – highly contagious – and spread by nose to nose contact or coughing.

There are two strains, H3N8 and H3N2, the latter of which was responsible for a 2015 outbreak that was believed to have resulted from the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), since 2015 thousands of dogs in the U.S. have tested positive for the H3N2 strain of canine influenza.

What to Look For and Who’s At-Risk

Clinical signs of canine influenza are similar to human flu and consist of:

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Dogs can have the virus up to two weeks before displaying symptoms, and puppies and older dogs are most susceptible to developing more severe disease like pneumonia.

According to the AVMA, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza from dogs to humans or to horses, ferrets, or other animal species. It should be noted however, that in 2016 cats at an Indiana animal shelter were infected with canine influenza from dogs and cat to cat transmission is possible.


Do you go to dog parks, use a dog-walking service or belong to dog social circles? If so, one preventative measure to consider is vaccination.

“Dogs that have contact with other dogs on walks, in daycare, or go to dog parks are at an increased risk and should definitely be vaccinated with the bivalent vaccine,” said Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) Lead Veterinarian Dr. Nicole Breda.

The vaccine won’t prevent every infection, but can reduce the clinical symptoms. Vaccinations are available at BVC or your regular veterinarian’s office.

See Signs, Take Action

Vigilance is responsible pet ownership. Canine influenza is rarely fatal, however should you notice any symptoms, contact your regular veterinarian immediately. With treatment, most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks.

Press Release: Stray Peacock Finds Forever Home

Back in June, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) took in a two-year-old male peacock who was found as a stray in Brewster, MA. ‘Derek’ found his forever home this past week, and will be heading to a property in Southeastern Massachusetts with more than 20 other peacocks.

While ARL serves thousands of animals annually, a peacock is something the organization doesn’t see every day, however the adoption process was like any other with the end goal of finding the right match and the right home for the animal.

Dighton resident Jeff Fisk turned out to be the right match, as he is an experienced peacock owner and has been partial to the birds from a young age.

“They’re fascinating creatures and make great pets,” Fisk said. “I was so excited when I was contacted about Derek, knowing that he would be going to a good home.”

ARL and Brewster Animal Control had received a number of reports in June of the stray bird, and he was captured in the Greenland Pond/Long Pond area of Brewster. Due to limited livestock space, Derek was transferred to the iconic red barn at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

While in the wild for an unknown amount of time, the stunningly beautiful bird was in good shape; and the fact that no one stepped forward to claim ownership makes it likely that he was dumped or abandoned in the area he was found.

Adoption Forward

ARL is committed to matching adoptable animals with a permanent home. Adoption Forward — our conversation-based, application-free adoption process is designed so that the needs of both the animal and the adopter are understood and compatible with one another. We do this to achieve our vision that we will be a resource for people and an unwavering champion for animals most in need. Ready to adopt? Visit ARL’s Boston, Dedham, or Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers today!

Cat with Hole in Soft Palate on the Mend

‘Vito’ suffered chronic nasal discharge and dental disease

Whether you’re human or a companion animal, the cost of medical care can be expensive – especially when the concerns are outside the realm of “normal”. For one-and-a-half-year-old Vito, his chronic afflictions proved to be too much of a financial challenge for his owners, and he was surrendered to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL).

ARL is committed to the health and happiness of every animal that comes into our care by conducting a thorough behavioral and veterinary assessment, and in Vito’s case, it was the treatment of one chronic condition that led to the discovery of what was causing the second.

Vito’s gums were painfully inflamed, and the severity of his dental disease required the extraction of 22 teeth. The cat was also suffering from chronic nasal discharge which was not improving — even with antibiotic therapy.

At ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, shelter veterinary staff sedated Vito for his dental procedure and simultaneous examination of his oral and nasal cavity. A hole was found in his soft palate (the tissue that separates the nasal cavity from the oral cavity), and the hole was allowing food and saliva into the nasal cavity, causing chronic infection.

With the root cause detected, Vito underwent a surgical procedure to close the hole and in the following days has shown rapid improvement.

While only able to eat wet food following surgery, Vito is now able to consume both wet and dry food, and now that he’s feeling better, his personality is on full display! Vito is playful, friendly and has a great desire to explore – he’s on the mend and will soon be made available to find his forever home!

Your Support Saves Lives

When you support ARL, you give animals like Vito a second chance. ARL’s shelter medicine program provides all facets of care – from wellness exams to complex and life-saving surgery.

ARL served 18,018 animals in 2017, and does not receive any government grants or public funding – we rely solely on the generosity of individuals like YOU to make our important work possible. Please DONATE today!

PAWS II Signed into Law

PAWS II further bolsters Massachusetts animal protection law

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is pleased to announce that Governor Charlie Baker has officially signed PAWS II into law. An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns passed unanimously in both the Senate and House, and was part of a whirlwind of activity for Governor Baker this past Thursday, who signed 53 bills into law.

PAWS II is an enormous step forward for animal protection law in Massachusetts and includes the following provisions:

  • Establishes a commission to explore mandatory reporting of animal cruelty (ARL will have a designated representative)
  • Ensures property owners check vacant properties for abandoned animals
  • Prohibits the automatic euthanasia of animal fighting victims
  • Ensures more efficient enforcement of animal control laws
  • Prohibits sexual contact with an animal
  • Prohibits the drowning of animals
  • Requires insurance companies offering homeowners or renters insurance to record and report circumstances surrounding dog-related incident claims to the MA Division of Insurance, the clerks in the Senate and House, and the ways and means committees for three years (last report to be filed by Jan 1, 2022)

“This legislation is a huge leap forward for animal protection in Massachusetts and was several years in the making,” said ARL President Mary Nee. “The Animal Rescue League of Boston is thrilled with its passage and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our elected officials to make the welfare of animals throughout the Commonwealth a priority.”

PAWS II builds upon the original PAWS Act that was passed in 2014 and was born out of the horrific discovery of the dog forever known as Puppy Doe in 2013. Along with increasing animal cruelty penalties and requiring veterinarians to report suspected abuse, the PAWS Act created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force. ARL President Mary Nee was part of the 11-member group who was charged with investigating the effectiveness of existing laws, and determining where gaps still exist.

The PAWS II Act is a direct reflection of the Task Force’s hard work and recommendations.

ARL worked in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, MSPCA, and Best Friends Animal Society to educate the public and advocate for the passage of this bill and would sincerely like to thank the following legislators for their leadership and commitment to animal protection:

PAWS II Sponsors: Senator Mark Montigny; Senator Bruce Tarr; Representative Louis Kafka
Conference Committee: Representative Jim O’Day; Representative David Muradian, Representative Sarah Peake; Senator Tarr; Senator Montigny; Senator Adam Hinds

MA House: Representative Robert DeLeo (House Speaker); Representative Jeffery Sanchez (House Ways and Means Chair)

MA Senate: Senator Karen Spilka (Senate President); Senator Harriette Chandler (Former Senate President)

Guilty Verdict for New York Man Accused of Killing Two Puppies

Verdict marks third high-profile case in 2018 involving ARL to be closed

In November 2014, the bodies of two 20-week-old puppies were found in a dumpster at a gas station in Revere. The puppies had been placed in a black garbage bag and thrown away like common house trash.

Nearly 4 years later, Dominick Donovan, the man charged with killing the puppies has been found guilty of 6 counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced to four years in jail. A co-defendant in the case previously pleaded guilty and testified against Donovan. He will be sentenced in late August.

The verdict and sentencing was the end of a long, multi-jurisdictional and collaborative investigation, and is the third high-profile animal cruelty case that has come to a conclusion this year. All three cases have two things in common — a commitment for justice from prosecutors and law enforcement against those who abuse animals; and the assistance of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Law Enforcement Department.

For the Donovan case, ARL Law Enforcement Director Lt. Alan Borgal was vital in the inspection and shut down of the co-defendant’s unlicensed kennel in Lynn. With 40-plus years of experience in animal welfare, Lt. Borgal also extended assistance and advice when needed during all phases of the investigation, filing of charges and prosecution of this case.

ARL President Mary Nee and Director of Law Enforcement Lt. Alan Borgal address the media following Radoslaw Czerkawski sentencing.

The first of 2018’s triad of victories was the now infamous Puppy Doe case. In late March, 35-year-old Radoslaw Czerkawski was found guilty of 12 counts of animal cruelty for the vicious cycle of torture and pain inflicted upon Puppy Doe, who needed to be humanely euthanized due to the extent of her injuries. Czerkawski will serve 8-10 years in prison for his crimes.

Also in March, a 33-year-old Salem man pleaded guilty to pending animal cruelty charges, during jury deliberations on a separate case. In January 2017, ARL Law Enforcement seized Luke, the defendant’s 11-month-old Pitbull, and the defendant was charged with animal cruelty for several documented instances of abuse. Luke needed extensive training and care and was with ARL for more than 500 days until he was adopted.

On the Front Lines

ARL’s Law Enforcement Department investigates crimes against animal cruelty, abuse, and neglect. We employ Special State Police Officers, with the authority to enforce animal protection laws; these dedicated officers work closely with local, state and federal agencies, prosecutors and animal control officers throughout the Commonwealth.

In 2017, ARL investigated cruelty and neglect cases involving 2,966 animals, resulting in 84 law enforcement prosecutions. DONATE NOW


It’s National ‘Check the Chip’ Day!

Sharon resident reunited with cat thanks to microchip

Today is National ‘Check the Chip’ Day, a day to remind pet owners of the importance of not only having a microchip implanted, but to make sure that all contact information is up to date. While not replacing a collar and tags, a microchip drastically improves the chances of being reunited with a pet should they become lost.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a dog with a microchip is twice as likely to be returned to their owners, while a cat with a microchip is 20 times more likely to be returned.

Microchip Success Story

In February, Sharon resident Tyler Martin’s four-year-old brown tabby Bailey went missing. Bailey’s owner posted flyers around his neighborhood, but as the days and weeks passed, the hope for a reunion dwindled and the belief was that Bailey was gone for good.

Fast forward six months to August – the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Rescue Services received a call from a resident in Norwood about a possible stray cat in their yard. Rescue agents responded to the scene and were able to corral the friendly cat, transporting the animal to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Bailey was scanned for a microchip and the information led ARL to Martin. When contacted, he was emotional and ecstatic to hear the news, but shocked that Bailey had been found on the other side of Route 95 in another town! He left work and was in Dedham in less than 30 minutes.

At the shelter, Bailey was shy and wasn’t looking to interact with anyone, however when his owner arrived, a quick sniff of the hand created an instant reconnection, and the reunion was complete.

A happy reunion to say the least, and if Bailey had not been microchipped, it’s unlikely this reunion would’ve happened.

How the Microchip Works

A microchip is a tiny computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, programmed with an identification number that is unique to your pet. It is non-toxic, non-allergenic, and will last the life of your pet with no maintenance required. The microchip is injected with a needle beneath the skin between the shoulder blades and is anchored in place as a thin layer of connective tissue forms around it.

Your pet’s identification number is entered into a national microchip registry, and you can think of the microchip as a permanent ID tag for your pet – but if you move or change phone numbers it’s important to make sure that your contact information is updated to increase the chances of a reunion.

When you adopt a dog or cat from ARL, along with being vaccinated, spayed or neutered, medically and behaviorally evaluated, the animal will also have a microchip implanted before you take them home.

Take Advantage of Boston Veterinary Care’s Special August Promotion!

This month, BVC clients will receive 25% off microchipping — registration included — with an exam or procedure; not to be combined with any other offer. Click here or call (617) 226-5606 for more details or to make an appointment.

ARL Spay Waggin’ Expands Services to Middleborough

Dog owner spared significant expense

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’ expanded its services this week, adding Middleborough to its list of rotating stops throughout the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod.

The mobile clinic offers high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services and in addition to Middleborough, rotating stops also include Brockton, Falmouth, New Bedford, North Dartmouth, Plymouth, Taunton, and Wareham.

The Spay Waggin’s inaugural stop in Middleborough was a success and met with enthusiasm from clients.

“This is great, I can drop off my cat in the morning, go to work, and pick her up in the afternoon,” said one excited pet owner. “It couldn’t be easier, and I can afford it.”

For many pet owners, affordability can be a major hurdle — one Middleborough client was able to avoid that hurdle, saving hundreds in the process, just by bringing her dog to ARL’s mobile unit.

The one-year-old yellow lab puppy needed to be neutered, however the fact that his testicles had not yet descended made it a more invasive surgery. Such a surgery could run upwards of $1,500 at other pet wellness facilities.

“The goal of the Spay Waggin’ is to bring these high-quality, low-cost services to the communities where they’re needed,” said ARL Medical Director of Community and Shelter Medicine, Dr. Kyle Quigley. “For this dog’s surgery, it was an upcharge of just $80 because it was a little more invasive, which saved the client in the neighborhood of $1,000.”

Performing more than 50,000 spay and neuter surgeries since 2,000, the need for low-cost, high-quality services remains high and ARL is excited to be able to help more animals in need and the people who care for them.

“For many, having their pet spayed or neutered is cost-prohibitive,” Dr. Quigley said. “With eight rotating stops along the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod, ARL will be able to help even more families afford this important procedure for their pets.”

Here to Serve

ARL’s Spay Waggin’ covers a wide swath of the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod and is a by-appointment-only service. Spaying or neutering is one of the simplest ways to improve health, control certain behaviors and even lengthen the lifespan of your furry friends. Make an appointment online or by calling 1-877-590-SPAY (7729) today!

Kitten with Eye Ulcers Part of Large-Scale Community Cat Spay/Neuter Clinic

Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, East Boston Colonies Targeted

This week the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) conducted a large-scale spay and neuter clinic for community cats from neighborhood colonies in Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and East Boston. The day-long clinic took place at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center’s state-of-the-art surgical suite, and among the approximately 30 cats to have surgery was a 13-week-old kitten named Liam, found with ulcers affecting vision in both eyes.

If left on the street, Liam likely would not have survived long-term due to his condition. Along with being neutered, one eye had ruptured due to an untreated viral infection and needed to be removed; the hope is that with medication, Liam’s vision in his remaining eye will improve over time. He will be made available for adoption once he recovers from surgery.

Out of the 30 cats that had surgery, about half, including a dozen kittens, will find loving families and forever homes – the undersocialized, or feral, cats will be returned to the field. The surgical clinic was the culmination of several days of trapping in known colonies from the aforementioned neighborhoods, and ARL is planning for more clinics in the near future to serve communities in need throughout the greater Boston area and South Shore.

A Community Issue

There are approximately 700,000 community cats living in Massachusetts, about 70,000 in Boston alone. Since 2017, ARL has served well over 700 community cats, with just 18 percent being returned to their colonies; however ARL has never conducted such a large-scale community cat spay and neuter clinic.

“Over the past year, we’ve increased our focus on community cats and have helped them as they’ve come to us,” ARL’s Medical Director of Community and Shelter Medicine Dr. Kyle Quigley said. “But with this effort we strategically targeted large, known colonies and the goal is to have a bigger, immediate impact for these communities.”

Change the Lives of Cats at Risk

ARL is excited about our commitment to help keep community cats safe and healthy in the habitats in which they live, but we need your investment in order to provide the best outcome for these cats. To fully support these innovative programs and help more than 1,500 cats lead healthier lives, we need to raise $204,000 annually. Please donate now to help these animals in need.