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Kittens with Rare Congenital Condition Looking for Purrfect Family

Special Kittens Require Special Accommodations

Fifteen-week-old Baxter and Suzie recently came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) as owner surrenders and are like typical kittens in many ways. They’re energetic, spunky, and are just starting to learn their way in the world. However these siblings are also unlike many other kittens, as they were born with a rare congenital defect that prohibits normal ambulation; and will need to be adopted into homes able to accommodate their limitations.

Radial Agenesis is an orthopedic condition were the radius — the bone that goes from our elbow to our wrist — did not form properly. These kittens are essentially missing bones in their front limbs, as well as one hind leg. The condition results in bowed-in front legs, where the kittens walk on their wrists instead of their paws. Click here to see video of these siblings in action!

While little can be done to correct this condition, many cats, including Baxter and Suzie, with Radial Agenesis can have an excellent quality of life and have no idea that they are not “normal”. Potential adopters will have to keep the following accommodations in mind:

  •         Carpeted Floors. For Baxter and Suzie, carpets give them the necessary traction to get around — especially stairs.
  •         Easily Accessible Basics. Providing food and water dishes that don’t tip over and a litter box with a lowered opening are key.
  •         Indoor only. Baxter and Suzie should be indoor animals only, as they lack the ability to quickly flee from outdoor dangers.
  •         Weight Management. Because of their abnormal gait, there is a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life. Keeping them at a healthy weight along with regular veterinary visits is recommended.

A Home for the Holidays

Suzie and Baxter have done well in separate foster homes, and will soon be ready to find their forever home so stay tuned! If you are ready to open up your heart and home for an animal in need this holiday season, please check ARL’s adoption page to find your perfect match or visit our Boston, Dedham, or Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers to meet your next furry friend in person.


A Home for the Holidays: Meet Ellen

Special Needs Puppy Looking for Her Forever Home

UPDATE: Adopted!

Ellen, a beautiful four-month-old Feist-mix, came to the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) as part of a transport from our partners in North Carolina in November.

A few days after arriving at ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, Ellen suffered a seizure, and has since shown mild neurologic symptoms including a spastic nature to her gait while playing and a lack of coordination.

Preliminary exams and diagnostic tests have not pinpointed the root cause of the seizure or the ongoing issues that have followed.

It should be noted that while exhibiting neurological symptoms, Ellen is also displaying typical puppy behaviors. She’s energetic, loves attention and playtime, and is absolutely adorable! To see Ellen being playful click here.

Needing Extra Care

Adopting a puppy is an extraordinary commitment, but in Ellen’s case she may need more than learning manners, house training, and everything else puppies need to become well-adjusted adult dogs.

“There is a fair chance that her symptoms are caused by hydrocephalus, a congenital defect in which excess fluid accumulates around the brain,” said Dr. Erin Doyle, Lead Veterinarian for ARL Shelter Veterinary Services. “The prognosis for hydrocephalus is very dependent on its severity. In some cases, hydrocephalus can be treated surgically or managed medically to control symptoms. Ellen’s lack of any further seizures and the mild nature of her ongoing symptoms are positive indicators, but unfortunately do not guarantee a good long term prognosis.”

The best way to determine her diagnosis and prognosis would be through a referral to a veterinary neurologist and an MRI. An MRI can run $1,500-3,000, however, whether this is necessary will be determined by Ellen’s ongoing symptoms. Ellen’s new family will have to monitor her closely and establish a plan with their regular veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.

Have Some Love to Give?

Ellen is waiting for her forever family, and so are many others. If opening your heart and home to an animal in need this holiday season is up your alley, we encourage you to visit ARL’s Boston, Dedham or Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers to find your perfect match!


PRESS RELEASE: ARL Receives $20,000 Grant From PetSmart Charities to Support Daily Shelter Operations to Help Local Pets in Need Thrive

November 30, 2017 — BOSTON, MA — Today, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) announced its receipt of a new $20,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America. The new grant will support the daily operations of ARL so they can continue their efforts to help local shelter pets thrive as they await adoption.

In addition to providing funding for general shelter needs, ARL’s grant will help to cover some of the costs associated with providing much needed dental procedures for 102 senior shelter animals.

“Providing dental cleanings and necessary tooth extractions allows these animals to enjoy a better quality of life and improves their overall health,” said Caitlin Tomlinson, ARL’s Associate Director of Shelter Operations. “This translates into a higher degree of adoptability and shorter shelter stays. Our goal is to get these animals into loving homes, and the generosity of Pet Smart Charities is allowing us to do just that.”

In animal welfare, funding for general shelter operations can be hard to come by. That’s why PetSmart Charities identified this as an area of great need to its adoption partners and grantees and developed this new grant category.

“Shelter operations grants are helping to ensure organizations like the Animal Rescue League of Boston have access to the funding and resources they need,” said Sima Thakkar, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “Together, we’re helping to reduce the length of time pets will need to be in the care of the ARL and increasing the likelihood they’ll soon find the forever home they deserve.”

Shelter Operations is just one of PetSmart Charities ten grant categories designed to support animal welfare organizations and nonprofits as part of their newly expanded mission to find lifelong loving homes for all pets by supporting programs that bring people and pets together. Funding from PetSmart Charities supports best practices that help pets thrive in a shelter environment until they find their forever family and offers funding for shelter-based programs that improve adoptions, reduce pets’ length of stay and strengthen shelter infrastructure.

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About PetSmart Charities®

PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization with a mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together.  In addition to finding homes for almost 500,000 shelter pets each year through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities provides funding to non-profits aligned with its mission through four key areas of grant support:  Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets; and Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the pin pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores.  In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 90 cents of every dollar donated and has become the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, donating about $300 million to date. PetSmart Charities, a 501(c)(3) organization, has received the Four Star Rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 14 years in a row — placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization.  To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org


Follow PetSmart Charities on Twitter: 
@PetSmartChariTs
Find PetSmart Charities on Facebook: 
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UPDATE: ARL’s Preparedness Provides Quick Turnaround

Dogs Rescued on Thanksgiving Eve Ready for Adoption

Update! Two of the six cats rescued from unsanitary conditions are now up for adoption at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

On Thanksgiving Eve, while many of us were busy travelling or preparing for the holiday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was assisting authorities in Middlesex County, removing animals from a hoarding situation.

In all, 26 animals were removed from the home, including 20 Shih Tzu dogs and puppies and six Siamese cats.

The animals were thin, dehydrated, and hungry. Additionally, many of the animals were unkempt and had feces and urine stuck in their matted fur.

ARL Rescue Services, Law Enforcement, Shelter Operations and Shelter Veterinary Medicine collaborated for a quick response, removing the animals and shuttling them to ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, where they were triaged, examined, fed, and kept warm.

The dogs and cats were monitored by staff on Thanksgiving and into the weekend. The animals quickly put on weight, and just seven days after being removed from the situation, six of the dogs are now being made available for adoption!

“I’m proud of the collaborative efforts that were made by a number of ARL programs in order to have this positive outcome,” said Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “Our preparedness to deal with emergency situations has been tested many times and this was no exception; and once again ARL responded quickly to help these animals in need.”

The remaining 14 animals are receiving on-going treatment, and will be made available once they are medically cleared, and it’s hopeful that all of these animals will have new homes for the holidays!


An Early Holiday-Season Miracle

Abandoned Kitten Brought Back from Brink of Death

‘Tis the season of miracles, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) recently witnessed one in the form of an 11-week-old kitten who was found on the campus of Mount Ida College.

Mount Ida employees had recently contacted ARL Rescue Services after seeing a mother cat with her litter around one of the campus buildings. Separate trips to the campus yielded no results in finding the kitty family; however about a week later, employees heard a kitten in a basement stairwell crying for help. Attempting to aid the kitten, he got spooked, and scampered off into the darkness.

Scared, dehydrated, hungry, and alone after being abandoned by his mother, the kitten curled up in the corner of the basement to die. When ARL arrived on-scene, the kitten was seemingly lifeless (the responding agent even checked for rigor mortis), when suddenly the kitten gasped for breath. He was alive — barely — and it was now a race against the clock to save his life. Thankfully the campus sits just five miles from ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Emergency Measures

Upon arrival in Dedham, his temperature did not register via rectal thermometer, he was taking agonal breaths — the body’s last-ditch effort to deliver oxygen to vital organs — and had a faint heartbeat.

ARL’s shelter and community veterinary staff placed the kitten (later named Lawrence) on a towel wrapped in a heating pad to warm him up, then were able to place an IV catheter in him to deliver subcutaneous fluids and dextrose. Despite having a series of seizures (likely related to low blood-sugar levels), over the next few hours the kitten gradually pepped up and eventually was able to eat.

A Life Saved

Lawrence has been making steady progress, and the grit and toughness shown by this little miracle has been awe-inspiring to everyone involved in the collaborative life-saving effort.

“The way he has responded is remarkable,” said ARL Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gollon. “It’s a nice reminder how resilient many animals are if you simply give them the basics — water, warmth, food, and a little TLC. It’s definitely been one of the most rewarding cases in my career as a veterinarian.”

YOU Make our Work Possible

While still on the mend, Lawrence is amazingly friendly and will likely be ready to find a forever home in time for the holidays! Without your support, this heart-warming outcome may not have been possible. ARL receives no government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of individuals to be an unwavering champion for animals.

If you support ARL now, your contribution can be tripled! ARL is thrilled to be a part of the launch of HippoGive — a new app powered by Network for Good which makes donating simpler.  HippoGive will match up to $100 of your gift so now through #GivingTuesday, your gift can be tripled when combined with our match! Click here to make your gift X3!


5 Thanksgiving Foods Your Pet Should Avoid

Keep your pup joyful and healthy this holiday with these helpful tips

Thanksgiving is a time to savor delicious food, enjoy the company of our family and friends, and to show gratitude for all that we are thankful for in our lives.

Be sure to also keep pets away from food wrappings and decorations, as these items can cause intestinal obstructions!

While it’s wonderful to include your pets in your holiday traditions, it’s important to remember that our furry companions cannot indulge in the same feasts that we prepare for ourselves. Some of the common Thanksgiving foods that fill our plate can actually be very dangerous for your pet to ingest.

Here are the 5 Thanksgiving foods that your dog should avoid:

  1. Turkey bones are small and can become lodged in your dog’s throat, stomach, or intestinal tract. They may also splinter and cause severe damage to the stomach or puncture the small intestine.
  2. Fat trimmings and fatty foods like turkey skin and gravy are difficult for dogs to digest. In fact, consuming turkey skin can result in pancreatitis. Symptoms for this serious disease can include vomiting, extreme depression, reluctance to move, and abdominal pain.
  3. Dough and cake batter contain raw eggs, so the first concern for people and pets is salmonella bacteria. What’s more, dough may actually rise in your dog’s belly, which can lead to vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and bloating.
  4. Mushrooms can damage your dog’s internal organs, including kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Symptoms can include seizures, coma, vomiting, and possibly death.
  5. Raisins and grapes, although the causes of their toxicity are unknown, can cause kidney failure in dogs.

The best way for your pet to partake in the holiday cheer? Stick with traditional treats that are safe for dogs and cats! Food puzzles and interactive toys like a Kong filled with peanut butter are a great way to keep your canine entertained and feeling satisfied all holiday long.

Bonus tip: Keep your vet’s emergency number handy. Should your pet become ill, contact your pet’s veterinarian or the local animal hospital’s number! A quick call to either of them can give you life-saving advice or even help you avoid a trip to the ER. You can also reach Boston Veterinary Care at (617) 226-5605.

For more helpful tips about dog and cat health and behavior, visit arlboston.org/helpfultips


Low-Stress Approach Used for Removing Jar from Raccoon’s Head

ARL Rescue Services Assist Woburn ACO

Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) Rescue Services has certainly had its share of calls to help animals in strange predicaments — a squirrel with its head stuck in a dumpster drain or animal bone, cats in walls, and this week we add a raccoon in a tree with a plastic jar stuck on its head.

On Tuesday, Woburn’s Animal Control Officer contacted ARL regarding the raccoon. He appeared to be healthy and uninjured, but the jar posed a number of dangers — induced panic from the enclosed space, inability to eat or see, and the possibility of falling out of the tree. A trap had been set at the base of the tree, but it was clear that responders had to go to the animal, not wait for him to come down.

The raccoon was about 25 feet up in the tree, which made him accessible, but understandably the raccoon was stressed. The goal of rescuers was to try and remove the jar without having to snare the raccoon and bring him to the ground — easier said than done.

Climbing about 15 feet up in to the tree and using an 11-foot extension pole, ARL Senior Rescue Agent Mike Brammer essentially had to play ring-toss with the jar, positioning it just right to pull it off the raccoon’s head without making him panic.

After several attempts, the jar came off, fluttered to the ground and was disposed of properly (just in case the raccoon didn’t learn his lesson) and the animal remained free in the tree without injury!

Make Double the Impact 

In the past year, ARL Rescue Services has responded to well over 1,500 wildlife rescue calls. ARL receives no government and relies solely on the generosity of individuals to make our work possible. As part of Giving Tuesday, your support can now have double the impact.

#GivingTuesday is an international movement created to encourage giving back to the charities nearest and dearest to your heart during the busy holiday season.

Because ARL is committed to keeping animals safe and healthy in their habitats and homes, our Board of Directors and President have teamed up to offer this incredible challenge:

Raise $100,000 and they will double it.*

That means any gift you make now through November 28 will be matched dollar for dollar to help us reach our total goal of $200,000 for animals in need! Donate $100 or more and you or your pet will be acknowledged on ARL’s #GivingTuesday Wall of Honor.

*The match only applies to the first $100K in donations ARL receives but all gifts will go to help animals in need.


Good Samaritan’s Quick Actions Saves Lives of Two Stray Kittens

ARL Shelter Staff, Volunteers Take Extraordinary Measures

This past weekend, shelter agents at ARL’s Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center received a call from a woman in Hyde Park who had found two kittens small enough to fit in the palm of her hand, but their mother and rest of the litter were nowhere to be found. Left to fend for themselves, quick action needed to be taken in order to give these kittens a chance of surviving.

ARL volunteer Stacey Coyne hopped in the car and drove to the woman’s address, and found that while the male kitten was alert, responsive and hungry, the female kitten was ice cold, lethargic and had labored breathing. The stray kittens were estimated to be about two weeks old, and with their mother abandoning them for some reason, it was a race against the clock to get them stabilized. For the ride back to the shelter, the kittens were wrapped in a blanket and placed on top of a bottle filled with warm water, in an effort to raise their body temperatures.

Once back at the shelter, the kittens continued to be warmed up, were given subcutaneous fluids, and were bottle fed with kitten milk formula. Although warming up and eating, a short time later the female kitten began to crash once again — while coordinating efforts with ARL veterinary staff, it was unclear whether she would make it through the night.

 Volunteer Dedication

With the kittens needing special attention, Stacey volunteered to take them home for the night. She tended to their needs, kept a close eye on their condition, and continued to bottle-feed them. It was an all-night effort, as Stacey stayed awake with the kittens until 5 a.m.

In the 12-18 hours after being found, the condition of the female kitten vastly improved, and while not out of the woods, the little ones are on the road to recovery, and will remain in foster care for several more weeks so stay tuned for updates!!

 The Importance of Fostering

Sometimes shelter animals need a little extra attention and TLC outside of the shelter environment. ARL is always looking for responsible and loving individuals willing to open their homes for animals in need — of critical need right now are volunteers to help with shy cats at ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Fostering depends on the animal’s needs, and can range from several days to several weeks. Additionally, our Roving Rovers program is perfect for working families and professionals. This unique foster experience allows you to take one our shelter dogs home overnight, while the shelter is closed. Get involved today!


The Dangers of Tethering

“Diesel” Suffered Necrotic Foot Due to Tethering

In mid-October, Diesel, a five-year-old black lab mix, was seized by the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) after undergoing an emergency leg amputation at a partner care facility in Norfolk County. The dog was tethered in his previous home, and as a result wound up having his right hind leg entangled in the chain. The chain cut off the circulation, his foot became necrotic and painful, and Diesel was discovered chewing on his foot as a result of the injuries.

diesel blog body thumb

Diesel has no problems getting around after his amputation surgery.

Because his foot was beyond repair, amputation was the best surgical option, however, despite being sans one leg, Diesel has not let this slow him down at all.

“Diesel is a wonderful, energetic dog,” said ARL Veterinarian Dr. Kate Gollon. “He is healing well from his surgery and gaining weight appropriately. He should have no lasting effects from this incident and gets around well on three legs.”

Diesel’s case serves as a reminder of not just the dangers of tethering, but also the legal ramifications of excessive tethering.

Massachusetts Tethering Statute Updated

In 2016, the state’s anti-tethering statute was updated as part of S.2369, An Act to Prevent Animal Suffering and Death — a piece of legislation that ARL strongly advocated for. Under the law dogs cannot be:

  • Tethered to a stationary object for longer than five hours in a 24-hour period
  • Tethered outside from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., unless not for more than 15 minutes and when the owner, guardian, or keeper is present
  • Confined outside when a weather advisory, warning, or watch is issued by local, state, or federal authority; or when environmental conditions such as extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, or hail pose as adverse risk to health or safety of the dog, based upon the dog’s breed, age, or physical condition and unless tethered for less than 15 minutes.

Additionally, law enforcement officers from ARL and MSPCA, who come upon situations where this new law is being violated, now have the authority to issue citations to violators when an Animal Control Officer is unavailable or unresponsive. ARL’s Law Enforcement Department also held a series of forums with Animal Control Officers in the spring to discuss the changes to the law.

“This statute is important on a variety of fronts,” said ARL Law Enforcement Lead Investigator Lt. Alan Borgal. “First off, tethering a dog can have tremendously negative impacts. The animal can become lonely, anxious, which may lead to aggressive behavior. Secondly, there is a high risk of injury with tethering including hanging and entanglement, which sadly was the case with Diesel. These laws are in place to protect these animals, and to ensure that they are being taken care of properly.”

Vigilance is Key

While the outcome for Diesel will ultimately be positive as he will wind up in a loving home, the same cannot be said for countless animals that are constantly tethered. ARL is a Champion for Animals, and you can be too by keeping a watchful eye, and if you see anything you may deem as cruel, report it immediately to ARL Law enforcement, or your local authorities.


Helping Animals and Communities in Need

Community Cats Initiative Surpasses 500 Rescues

Back in the early spring, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) hired the organization’s first dedicated Community Cat Rescue Agents, and in just a few short months, more than 500 cats have been rescued through the Community Cat Initiative!

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ARL Rescue Agents Suzanne Trasavage (L), and Theresa Vinic with two rescued kittens.

Community cats include friendly strays, feral, abandoned, and owned animals that are allowed outdoors to roam. Living outdoors they face many challenges, including risk of illness and injury. Additionally, without spay/neuter surgery, these cats can produce many litters, continuing the cycle of large colonies of unowned and unwanted cats.

Through ARL’s Community Cat Initiative and Community Surgical Clinic, these animals are trapped, given veterinary exams, and spayed/neutered. Only 18 percent have been returned to their respective colonies, while those deemed friendly and adoptable have been placed into loving homes — including 270 kittens!

In September, ARL’s Dedham Animal Care and Adoption Center found homes for 105 cats, more than any month over the past decade, a sign that the program is indeed working.

“While we knew there was a need for this important work, we have all been surprised at the number of kittens that otherwise would have grown up in the streets, and now they can be adopted into loving homes,” said Cheryl Traversi, ARL’s Associate Director of Community Services.

Changing Lives

ARL has only scratched the surface on the community impact the Community Cat Initiative can have in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. We are excited for the opportunity to keep animals safe and healthy in the habitats in which they live, however this initiative needs your support in order to be a success. To fully support these innovative programs and help more than 1,500 cats lead healthier lives, ARL needs to raise $204,000 annually. For more information, contact Rick Tagliaferri at rtafliaferri@arlboston.org.