ARL Focuses on Low Stress Handling for Felines

3 techniques used by Shelter Veterinary Services to keep cats happy and healthy during exams

At the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) our Shelter Veterinary Services provide high quality, compassionate care to a variety of species. Cats, however, continue to comprise the greater part of our shelter population.

In an effort to expand our Shelter Veterinary Services’ ability to provide care that not only addresses the medical health of our cats, but also their behavioral well-being, Jessica Wright, ARL’s Lead Veterinary Technician, recently became certified in “Low Stress Handling Techniques” via Dr. Sophia Yin’s online course. The certification process required a commitment of at least 20 hours, during which online lectures and labs were viewed and follow up discussion questions and exams were completed.

As an organization, the ARL strives to reduce the stress that our shelter cats inevitably experience while in our care. These efforts can be seen in the double sided cages that the cats reside in, and the hiding boxes that each cat is offered. Upon completion of the Low Stress Handling course, Jessica was excited to incorporate the new techniques she had learned into the Shelter Veterinary Services’ daily rounds.

The 3 Low Stress Handling techniques that the ARL uses for felines are:

  1. Picture1Adjusting the methods by which a cat is moved between the cage and the exam room. To avoid exposing the cat to any number of stressors that may be encountered while moving between spaces, cats are now wrapped in a towel for transport. Some cats prefer to have their head exposed allowing them to look about whereas others prefer to have their head covered. This use of the towel allows the removal of potentially stressful visual stimulation and provides the cat with the feeling of being adequately supported.
  2. Incorporating the use of towels for comfort. Rather than sitting on a cold metal exam table, the cats now sit on the towel they were brought to the exam room with. This provides a sense of comfort for each patient. In addition, depending upon the behavior Picture2of each cat, a second towel may be placed over the cat. This again removes any potentially stressful visual stimulation and allows for more ease of handling of the cat during examination.
  3. Introducing food during examination. As surprising as it may be, many cats will often eat a snack during an exam or vaccination. Providing food to the patient can act as a distraction from any potentially negative or stressful event that may occur. In addition, if the cat chooses to eat during these procedures, a positive emotional response is encouraged rather than the typical fearful or stressed response often associated with veterinary care.

As a result of the introduction of Low Stress Handling Techniques, our shelter cats are that much more happy and healthy!

YOU can help keep shelter cats low-stress too: Please consider making a donation of regular sized bath towels to enable the ARL to continue our Low Stress Handling efforts! Donations can be dropped off at our Boston Adoption Center lobby located at 10 Chandler Street in Boston, Tuesday through Sunday, 7:30AM – 6:30PM.


Bark if You Love October

ARL Shares Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt an Adult Dog

If you’ve considered adding a canine companion to your family, there’s no better time than NOW to ADOPT! October is National Adopt-a-Dog Month and the ARL has many adult dogs looking for their forever homes!

Search adoptable dogs


Meet Coretta, an extra sweet 3-year-young mixed breed who would love an active home to call her own! Click her photo to learn more about her.

Many potential adopters visit animal shelters looking for a puppy. While puppies are absolutely adorable, they are also very energetic and their personalities, likes, and dislikes are still emerging.

That’s why adopting an adult dog can be a great decision for you and your family! (Hint: At ARL shelters, adult dogs are 1 year and older.)

When you come into ARL’s shelters in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham, our knowledgeable adoption agents will ask you about what you’re looking for in a dog in terms of energy level, personality, and compatibility with children and other pets.

It won’t take long for you to realize that one of the biggest perks of adopting an adult dog is that what you see, is what you get.

Adult dogs have passed their critical development stages, so you’ll get a good idea of whether or not their personality and energy level is the right fit for your home. They may also be an easier introduction info the family, as puppies can be fragile and act quite timid in an already active household.

Not yet convinced? The ARL’s shares top 5 reasons why you should adopt an adult dog this October:

  1. You’ll save a life. When you adopt, you actually save two lives: the life of the dog that you adopted, and the life of the dog that is going to take its place at the shelter. Your new pet will thank you again and again for being their hero with slobbery kisses!
  2. You’ll meet your perfect canine companion. At the ARL, each dog is thoroughly evaluated to assess their medical history and overall temperament. They are then given a customized behavioral and enrichment plan to prepare them for life in their future home. All this information will be presented to you at the time of the potential adoption so that you and your family members can decide if the dog you’re interested in is the right match for you.
  3. You’ll find variety. If you have your mind set on a dog of a particular breed or temperament, chances are that one of ARL’s shelters will  have what you’re looking for! Various purebreds and mixed breeds come into our shelter at any given time, so we always have new dogs available! Don’t see a canine that catches your eye? Keep checking our list of current adoptables, as it changes every day!
  4. You’ll save money. Every adoptable dog at the ARL receives the following included in their adoption fee: health screening and veterinary examination; spay or neuter services; vaccinations; heartworm test and preventative; flea and tick treatment; intestinal parasite scan; microchip identification and registration; tag and collar.
  5. You’ll be doing something especially kind for animals in need. Adult dogs usually stay at our shelters much longer than puppies do. That’s why shelters usually charge a smaller adoption fee for adult dogs- to incentivize people to adopt them!

To meet our adoptable dogs, stop by our adoption centers in BostonBrewster, and Dedham on Tuesdays – Sundays from 1pm – 6:30pm. If you meet the dog of your dreams, in most cases you can take him or her home with you the same day!



October is National Adopt-a-Dog Month

The ARL is celebrating National Adopt-a-Dog Month and you should too

The month of October is dedicated to honoring shelter dogs and helping the approximately 3.9 million dogs* who enter animal shelters each year find loving homes. If you’re considering adding a dog to your family, there’s no better time than National Adopt-a-Dog Month and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is a paw-some place to find your perfect canine match. 


Click the photo to learn our top 5 reasons why you should adopt an adult dog this October.

When you adopt, you give an animal a chance at a better life. All adoptable dogs at the ARL receive: 

  • Spay or neuter services (excluding some small animals)
  • Health screening and veterinary examination
  • Behavior screening and evaluations
  • Vaccinations
  • Microchip identification and registration
  • Heartworm test and preventative medication for dogs
  • Feline Leukemia test for cats
  • Flea, tick and mite treatment
  • Deworming for intestinal parasites
  • Tag, collar, and leash or carrier

Visit an ARL adoption center in Boston, Brewster, or Dedham, Tuesday-Sunday from 1pm-6:30pm to meet our adoptable dogs or visit to learn more about our adoptable dogs online. If you meet the dog of your dreams, in most cases you can take him or her home with you the same day!

If adding a canine companion to your family is not a possibility, you can still help dogs in need! Consider sponsoring a dog’s adoption fee or donating supplies from our shelters’ wish lists. Contact (617) 226-5602 or for more information.

*According to the ASPCA’s pet statistics. 


Shelter Veterinary Services: Not Just For Cats & Dogs

Espresso, a 1-year-old rat, recovering from surgery to remove a large tumor

Everyone knows that the Animal Rescue League of Boston helps cats and dogs, but did you know that we help all other types of small animals, livestock, and wildlife too?

Espresso, a 1-year-old female rat, was picked up by ARL’s Rescue Services after being abandoned at a local veterinary clinic with her sister, Mocha. The adorable pair were brought to our Boston shelter where they received a veterinary exam, behavioral evaluation, and kind attention from staff and volunteers.

Unfortunately, during Espresso’s initial examination at the shelter, a large tumor was found over her left shoulder. Our Shelter Veterinary Services team immediately brought her to surgery, which cost approximately $250, to remove the tumor.

Espresso rat surgery before & after

Espresso, a 1-year-old rat, is recovering comfortably from tumor-removal surgery at the ARL. She and her sister Mocha are available for adoption and looking for a loving family!

DONATE NOW to ensure that animals like Espresso receive the critical preventative or emergency veterinary care that they need.

Espresso was a trooper throughout her surgery and recovered very well. In fact, she was walking around her enclosure and eating within an hour after waking up.

Through all of this process, Espresso never lost her love of people and remained as sweet as ever!

After surgery, the removed mass was sent to a lab for analysis and was determined to be a benign mammary tumor.

Mammary tumors are very common in middle-aged to older rats. Because rats have mammary tissue that extends well beyond the area of their mammary glands, mammary tumors can occur in locations you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Thankfully, the tumors are nearly always benign, as was the case for Espresso.  This means it’s very unlikely that they will metastasize or recur in the same location.

It’s important to know, however, that rats who develop one mammary tumor will often go on to have additional mammary tumors develop at new locations in the future.

We recommend that Espresso’s adopters have a discussion with their family vet about whether to consider additional treatment, such as hormone injections, to help prevent future tumors from forming.

MEET ESPRESSO AT OUR BOSTON ADOPTION CENTER! Espresso and her sister Mocha are both available for adoption and would make lovely little additions to your home. Visit us at 10 Chandler Street in Boston, email, or call (617) 226-5602 for more information about this pair.

UPDATE 9/5/16: Espresso and her sister Mocha have been adopted!


Update: Couple Charged in Westport Dog Case

Westport, MA pair arrested in connection with Jersey, the matted dog’s case

Earlier this week, the Westport Police Department and local authorities arrested two people on animal cruelty charges relating to the rescue of “Jersey”, the approximately 8-year-old Llasa Apso who was found roaming around Sanford Road and Milk Avenue in Westport, MA. Her severely matted fur was was caked in dirt, urine, feces. Watch Jersey’s story, as reported by Fox 25.

Jersey was taken in to the ARL’s Boston shelter where she underwent intense medical treatment, including enucleation surgery, rendering her permanently blind. She also underwent a procedure to have bladder stones removed. Jersey will also receive treatment for significant dental decay.

Despite all she’s been through, Jersey has kept her sweet disposition toward ARL volunteers and staff. Although she can no longer see, Jersey still loves to explore! Her favorite activity is sniffing around patches of grass, followed by a long nap in her favorite plush blanket.

UPDATE: During the course of Jersey’s investigation, a tip was called in to Westport Police that lead them to a residence in Westport, MA. When investigators arrived at the home, they discovered three Dachshunds in concerning circumstances and transferred them to the ARL’s Boston shelter. The dogs’ owners were both charged with Animal Cruelty by a Custodian. Anyone wishing to help with the care and medical treatments of these innocent animals is encouraged to donate at


Jersey is recovering well after undergoing surgery last week at our Boston headquarters. If you would like to make a donation to Jersey and other animals in need, click the photo above or visit


Three Dachshunds were also discovered at the Westport, MA residence. Left: Charlie; top-right: Penny; bottom-right: Gracie. Penny is available for adoption at our Boston Adoption Center. Gracie and Charlie have already found their forever homes. Please click the photo above or visit to learn more. Update: All three Dachshunds have been adopted!


SUSPECT ANIMAL CRUELTY? Call your local animal control officer or police department immediately. Learn the signs of animal cruelty at


The Patriot’s Logan Ryan Helps ARL Dog Find a Home

Coretta has been looking for her forever home since February

On a sunny afternoon in May, long-time resident of ARL’s Boston shelter, Coretta, met her biggest celebrity yet: New England’s Patriot’s Cornerback Logan Ryan! For Coretta, it was love at first sniff.


Coretta had a blast hanging out with New England Patriot’s cornerback Logan Ryan! Coretta is available for adoption at ARL’s Boston shelter.

Click here to learn more about Coretta

Logan Ryan selected the beautiful 3-year-old Pit-Bull Terrier mix as his May feature for Ryan’s Monthly Rescue, a social media campaign to give additional exposure to Pit Bull-type dogs looking for their forever homes.

Coretta was the perfect candidate! Check her out on Logan Ryan’s Instagram account.

Logan Ryan and Coretta spent the afternoon frolicking through the grass and tossing around a Patriot’s-themed football. All were impressed by her energy and athleticism!

“Coretta loves to run and play fetch, but she seemed to enjoy just hanging by my side for this photoshoot, too,” said Logan. “She’s worked on obedience training with the great volunteers and staff at the ARL and also enjoys nosework and agility.

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP - If you or a friend are looking for an incredible lady-like companion, please call our Boston shelter at 617-226-5602 and ask about Coretta!


Hot off the Press: Our Four-Footed Friends

Check out the Spring/Summer 2016 edition here!

ARL’s latest edition of Our Four-Footed Friends, includes news and photos of all the critical work for animals you helped support.

Our Four-Footed Friends Spring/Summer 2016 edition

Click on the image above to read the full Spring/Summer 2016 edition of Our Four-Footed Friends!

Click here or the image at right to view the full Spring/Summer 2016 OFFF magazine.

What’s inside…

  • How your support positively impacted ARL shelter pets in 2016!
  • The steps ARL is taking to advocate for animals- and what you can do to help!
  • A recap of National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month!
  • “Happy tail” & winter rescue success stories!
  • And much more!




ARL Shelters Closed TODAY – Thursday, March 31

ARL shelters & Boston Veterinary Care are closed for all-staff meeting

Dedicated ARL volunteers will be on-site throughout the day caring for our animals. A special thank you goes out to those pawsome folks!

You can search adoptable animals now to learn more about the cats, dogs, and small animals who are looking for a home and contact our shelters tomorrow, Friday, April 1, during regular hours, 1:00 pm-6:30 pm.

Boston Shelter: (617) 426-9170 or
Brewster: (508) 255-1030 or
Dedham: The shelter is currently closed for remodeling.

Boston Veterinary Care will re-open tomorrow, Friday, April 1, at 8:00 am.

For emergencies, please contact Bluepearl – specialty + emergency medicine for pets at (781) 684-8387.


ARL Debuts Christine Barton Feline Suite

ARL’s newly constructed Feline Suite has been named in memory of longtime volunteer, Christine Barton

Earlier this week, volunteers and staff gathered together at ARL’s Boston shelter to celebrate the life of the caring, committed, and longtime volunteer, Christine Barton.

Click here to read the North End Waterfront article.

During the naming ceremony, ARL’s volunteer and educational programs manager, Debra Vogel, gave a heartfelt speech about why the Feline Suite was dedicated in Christine’s name:

feline suite

On Monday, ARL’s new Feline Suite was dedicated to longtime volunteer, Christine Barton! Funding for the Feline Suite was generously donated by the Gelnaw family!

Shy and fractious cats, like Frisky, surrendered to the ARL’s Boston shelter sometimes struggle in the traditional kennel environment. The newly renovated Feline Suite gives these cats a more home-like setting to rehabilitate and ultimately find a permanent home.

In the summer of 2015, the ARL lost a treasured member of their volunteer team, Christine Barton, after a battle with cancer.
Christine was a feline friend, a photographer, and a mentor. She spent countless hours patiently caring for the animals at the ARL.  Her devotion spanned from sitting for long periods of time with a shy cat to waiting for the perfect photo of a rambunctious puppy.
While her love for animals was obvious, her concern for children was just as strong. Christine frequently said, ‘I just want to do good’.
Feline Suite

ARL president, Mary Nee, and Feline Suite donor, Michelle Gelnaw unveil Christine’s plaque at the dedication ceremony.

Christine’s final wish was to have one more chance to visit the ARL’s Boston shelter. The Feline Suite that is being dedicated in her name, gives challenging cats a second chance. In this space, current volunteers can carry on Christine’s work to care for the cats in residence there. Nothing made Christine happier than to see once challenging cats flourish and find a new home.

Funding for the Christine Barton Feline Suite was generously donated by the Gelnaw family. They requested that the Feline Suite be named in Christine’s memory to help her legacy live on!

THANK YOU to Christine Barton for her many years of dedicated service to animals in need at the ARL!

…And to the Gelnaw family for their generous donation to help give struggling cats a chance to find a loving home!


February is National Adopt a Rabbit Month

Hop on over to the ARL and ADOPT a bunny today!

Thanks to our knowledgeable staff and volunteers, the ARL has many types of animals available for adoption- not just cats and dogs. If a feline or canine is not the pet for you, or you have limited space in your home, consider SPREADING THE LOVE and adopting a rabbit!

Bunnies like Millie, Bamm-Bamm, and Cookie are all searching for a family to love this Valentine’s Day. Looking for double

adopt a rabbit

9-month-old Jordash is hoping to hop her way into your heart! Get to know this beautiful gal by clicking her photo.

the laughs? Bonded pair Castiel and Ghost are the best of friends and are hoping to find a home together!

Search adoptables

Here are 5 reasons why you should consider adopting a rabbit this February:

  1. Bunnies spend the majority of their day quietly inside their cage, making them the perfect companions for apartment dwellers.
  2. Cottontails can be trained to use a litter box, so you won’t have to rush home from work to let them out.
  3. Hares need minimal exercise every day, so they require less attention than cats or dogs.
  4. Rabbits are curious, friendly, and will entertain you for hours with their silly antics.
  5. Hop-a-longs keep themselves tidy and are all about “clean eating”, snacking on salad, hay, and carrots as treats.

Need a 6th reason? All adoptable rabbits at the ARL receive the following: Spay/neuter services, health screening and veterinary examination, behavior screening and evaluations, vaccinations, parasite treatment, and more!

Don’t forget… to please bring a photo of the cage your rabbit will live in, as it’s required for adoption.

SPREAD THE LOVE THIS VALENTINE’S DAY: Not able to ADOPT right now? That’s OK! Consider sponsoring a rabbit’s adoption fee to help a deserving bunny find a home this February! Contact our Boston, Brewster, or Dedham shelter for more information.