An Unwavering Champion for Animals in Need
For 118 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 520 dedicated volunteers and 100 staff members, ARL lends unwavering support to local animals, families, and neighborhoods.
We provide outstanding veterinary care, adoption, and rescue 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 17,800 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 any government or public funding and relies solely on the generosity of compassionate individuals to carry out our important work to help animals and communities 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!
ARL’s “reason for being” dates back to our founding in 1899 when Anna Harris Smith of Dorchester, Massachusetts wrote that 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.
A devoted advocate for the kind and respectful treatment of animals and people, Anna Harris Smith started ARL in response to the many neglected and abandoned animals she encountered wandering the streets of Boston. In her distress, she wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Evening Transcript in January, 1899, vividly describing acts of cruelty toward animals and the need for a centrally located shelter for the rescue and care of homeless cats and dogs.
Her fervent appeal for support received over 60 enthusiastic responses, and on February 9, 1899, 110 people attended the first meeting of the newly formed ARL.
As President of ARL from 1901 to 1929, Anna Harris Smith acted upon a wide-range of animal welfare and humane issues of the time, such as abandonment of pets, work horse abuse, inhumane livestock transport methods, and the humane education of children.
ARL flourished under her leadership and gained a national reputation for excellence in large and small animal rescue and health services, animal welfare advocacy, and humane education programs.
Anna Harris Smith’s philosophy that “kindness uplifts the world,” continues to inspire all the work that ARL does on behalf of animals and communities in need.
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.
Did You Know…
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.
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.
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.
Vice President of Animal Welfare & Veterinary Services
Dr. Edward Schettino
Board of Directors