An Unwavering Champion for Animals in Need

For over 120 years, The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has responded to the needs of animals and the people who care about them. In fact, we are often the first to respond. With over 800 dedicated volunteers and 100 staff members, ARL lends unwavering support to local animals, families, and neighborhoods.

We provide outstanding veterinary care, adoption, and field services. We also confront the root causes of animal cruelty and neglect through special police investigation and advocacy aimed at strengthening the laws that protect animals. Last year alone, we served more than 16,700 animals in need.

Today, we increasingly focus on prevention and the impact we can have on more animals; keeping them out of shelters and in the communities where they belong. This ambitious call to action is reflected in our new vision for the future.

ARL does not receive government grants or public funding (with the exception of limited COVID-19 relief funding) and relies on the generosity of our supporters to help animals in need. We ask all those who share our goals to reaffirm a commitment to the future we all hope to achieve. Together, we can make it happen!

2020 Impact Report 

2020 Gratitude Report

Learn more about our Programs & Services (PDF)

Check us out in the 2019 BBJ Giving Guide (PDF)

View our GuideStar profile 


Charity Navigator 4-star badge
Guide star seal
Petsmart Charities Grantee
Petco Love
Nextdoor neighborhood favorite 2019
ARL Great Nonprofit Awards

For over twelve decades, ARL has responded to the needs of animals and supported a community in which animals are protected, safe, and healthy – in homes and out of shelters.

Our “reason for being” dates back to our founding in 1899 when Anna Harris Smith, a social worker from Dorchester took action when she saw both the cruel mistreatment of Boston’s working horses, and the number of stray and homeless animals living on the streets.

In a vividly worded editorial in the Boston Evening Transcript, Anna advocated for a centrally located shelter for the rescue and care of homeless cats and dogs and remarked, “While getting dogs and cats off the street is work worth doing, the teaching of thoughtful kindness is the work that changes families, communities, and a nation.”

Anna Harris Smith

Anna understood that true change required more than just responding in times of crisis—it required a long-term vision.

And so, on February 7, 1899, 110 people gathered at the Park Street Church for the very first meeting of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Soon after, ARL moved into its first headquarters at 68 Carver Street in Boston.

In 1907, Anna purchased a sprawling property in Dedham as a sanctuary for working horses and homeless animals. Over the years, the work of ARL expanded well beyond Boston, across all of Eastern Massachusetts, and onto the Cape Cod regions.

Through Anna’s fervor for humane education, and the growing impact of her work for animals in need, communities across the country began to take notice – and used ARL as a model of how to form their own rescue societies. ARL became much more than a local shelter!

As we look ahead into the next chapter of our organization’s rich history, our task is to ensure that ARL remains and unwavering champion for animals in need, as well as an essential resource for the people who care for them, and a committed partner for communities where they live.

Thank you to our incredible supporters—from the first 110 members who gathered in 1899 to today’s vibrant and passionate community of donors and volunteers!

Did You Know…

ARL Dedham Barn

The red barn in ARL’s logo reminds us of where we came from and stands as an important symbol of protection against the suffering of animals to this day. Anna Harris Smith dedicated significant resources to helping Boston’s working horses. Many neglected and abused horses received care in the haven of the red barn at our Dedham location.

ARL Pine Ridge

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 sanctuary for the city’s working horses – and summer home to ARL’s founder, Anna Harris Smith. In fact, Anna’s own beloved pets were among the first to be buried here.

ARL first vehicle

In 1912, ARL purchased its first motorized vehicle. Until then, horse-drawn carriages acted as ambulances that were only able to provide service to local Boston residents. A motorized ambulance allowed ARL to take their efforts further, encompassing most of Eastern Massachusetts. Due to much success, three more motorized vehicles were acquired in 1918.


Dr. Edward Schettino

President & CEO
Edward Schettino, DVM, PhD, CAWA


Vice President of Animal Welfare
and Veterinary Medicine
Aimee Christian


Chief Financial & Operating Officer
Constance de Brun

Board of Directors


Walter Kenyon

Laura Tomasetti

Laura Tomasetti
Vice Chair


Chris Primiano

Chris Primiano

Richard Kelly

Richard Kelly

Alisa Plazonja

Alisa Plazonja

Christina Nagler

Christina Nagler

Heather Ridill

Heather Ridill

José Rodríguez-Villalobos

José Rodríguez-Villalobos


Nadine Pellegrini, Esq.

Renee Knilans

Renee Knilans

Richard Davey

Richard A. Davey

Rod Macdonald

Rod Macdonald

Tara Oliver

Tara Oliver

Emeritus Directors

Quentin Faulkner