We Need Your Help! Foster a Kitten, Save a Life

The ARL is seeking on-call foster families for neonatal kittens

four cute neonatal kittens

Foster a neonatal kitten, save a life! If you live in South End or Dedham, apply to be an on-call volunteer today!

If you live in the South End of Boston or in Dedham and have a flexible schedule, a cozy home, and big heart, please read on….

Our Boston and Dedham shelters developed the On-CallNeonatal Kitten Foster Program in response to the need for trained individuals to care for abandoned nursing kittens found in Massachusetts each year, primarily between the months of May through October.

The term “neonatal” refers to a kitten during its0-4 weeks of life. Kittens at this stage are very delicate and are completely reliant on their mother for protection, warmth, and nutrition.

When a neonatal kitten comes in without a mother, it’s up to human caregivers to step in to provide care for these little ones.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the on-call neonatal kitten foster program:

Q: What do neonatal foster volunteers need to do?

A: We’re looking for foster families who are available on-call to take in one to three kittens at a time for a minimum of 4-5 weeks, with some flexibility on an emergency basis.  Prior experience preferred, but not necessary.

You need to be able to stay with the kitten(s) for a significant part of the day and dedicate bottle-feeding time every 2-4 hours.

Q: Will I get training?

A: Yes, absolutely!  We will provide you with:

  • Foster care orientation
  • Neonatal kitten bottle feeding training
  • A bottle and KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) formula starter kit

We also provide emergency contacts, so you have access to support 24-hours a day when you are fostering kittens in your home.

Q: Where will I need to go to pick up kittens?

A: We are looking for foster volunteers who live close to our Boston shelter located at 10 Chandler Street, Boston, MA, and our Dedham shelter located at 55 Anna’s Place, Dedham, MA.  Because kittens frequently come in at the end of the day, we need volunteers who live in close proximity who can quickly and easily come pick them up.

Q. How do I apply to become a neonatal kitten foster volunteer?

A. Click here to fill out a foster volunteer application

For more information about the ARL’s Neonatal Kitten Foster Program, contact:

CCurran@arlboston.org at our Boston Shelter

BFinn@arlboston.org at our Dedham Shelter

Though caring for neonatal kittens requires time and patience, helping a fragile newborn become a healthy adoptable kitten is an extremely rewarding experience!

Additional fostering opportunities

We’re also looking for foster families to care for:

  • Cats with medical conditions
  • Cats with behavioral challenges, such as litter box training and fearfulness.
  • Dogs with behavioral challenges, such as anxiety and fearfulness.

Training is always provided!


5 Facts About Pit Bull-type Dogs

Learn why Pit Bull-type Dog popularity is on the rise

As part of our See Something, Say Something campaign, we wanted to share some important information about Pit Bulls, a “breed” that often gets a bad rap.  Unfortunately, Pit Bull-type dogs often come to our shelters because their owners face housing and insurance restrictions prohibiting certain breeds of dogs.

Here are 5 facts that you need to know about Pit Bull-type dogs:

1. FACT: The “Pit Bull” is not an official breed.
“Pit Bull” is an umbrella term commonly reported to contain the following 3 registered breeds of dogs: Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Pit Bull Terrier.

Many dogs that are classified as “pit bulls” are actually a combination of mixed breed dogs of unknown pedigree or other pure bred dogs which bear some physical resemblance. It is not easy to identify a dog’s breed origin(s) from appearance alone, therefore many dogs who are labeled as Pit Bull-type dogs are actually not.

2. FACT: While some Pit Bull-type dogs were historically bred for the purposes of “blood sports”, the majority were bred to become family dogs and farm help.
In the 1970s, dog “blood sports” (i.e., dogfighting, street fighting) began to get more attention by law enforcement and, therefore, the media—making the public much more aware of these cruel practices. The hype drew people to the conclusion that the Pit Bull-type dog’s history of involvement in “blood sports” made them uniquely dangerous.

The truth is that one cannot predict a dog’s behavior based on what the ancestral breed was “historically bred for.”  Instead, each dog should be assessed as a unique individual based upon their overall temperament and upbringing.

3. FACT: Pit Bull-type dogs are not born aggressive
Ever heard the phrase “nature vs. nurture”? Well, that applies here too. Pit Bull-type dogs, just like any other type, follow “learned” behavior taught by the humans who raise them.

To put it simply: an attentive caring owner will raise a happy well-adjusted pet. A neglectful and abusive owner will raise an unhappy aggressive pet. More often than not, Pit Bull-type dogs who display aggressive behavior are often the victims of irresponsible ownership.

4. FACT: Pit Bull type dogs do not have “locking jaws”
No such “locking jaw” mechanism exists in a Pit Bull-type dog or any other dog type or breed. There is nothing uncommon about the size and functionality of a Pit Bull-type dog’s jaws or teeth. Additionally, there is no evidence which proves that one dog type or breed is uniquely capable of inflicting serious injury to humans or other animals.

5. FACT: You should consider adopting a Pit Bull-type dog from your local shelter
If you’re looking to add a new furry family member to your household, think about saving a life and adopting. When a Pit Bull-type dog is properly matched to your family and lifestyle, it is a success story in the making. Pit Bull-type dogs are loyal companions, quick learners, and make great exercise buddies.

If you are considering adopting, make sure you visit a shelter that offers behavioral assessments and enrichment programs for all adoptable animals.  At the ARL, for example, staff can that provide insight into a dog’s overall temperament, health, and upbringing. It is always a good idea to bring everyone in the household (including other dogs) to the shelter with you to ensure that your new addition is the right fit for your home and family.

The good news is Pit Bull-type dog popularity is on the rise due to their awesome physical and mental characteristics that make them the perfect companion for responsible, active, and caring owners.

Just ask uber celebrities Tom Brady, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Jessica Biel, and Rachel Ray (just to name a few) why they chose a Pitty as their family pet who they can’t live without!

If you’re looking to add a Pit Bull-type dog or another type of pet to your family, visit our adoptable pets at our shelters, Tuesday – Sunday 1 pm – 6:30 pm.

Search adoptables

If you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Learn more about what you can do to prevent animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action.


Track the ARL Boston Marathon Runners

After months of training through extreme winter weather conditions, our runners are ready to take on 26.2 for animals in need!

team photo with bib numbersYou can show your support for the ARL’s Boston Marathon Team by:

1. Donating to the team to help them reach their stretch goal of $40,000 by visiting crowdrise.com/arl2014bostonmarathon

2. Tracking their race progress at http://bit.ly/1e9LjEZ using their bib numbers

Chris    30015
Mal       29782
Scott    30005
Alexis  30083

3. Joining us in Coolidge Corner near the 7- Eleven to cheer for our runners at they near the finish line

A VERY SPECIAL THANKS to the dedicated runners on our 2015 Boston Marathon team!

Boston Marathon sponsor JH

Thank you to Boston Marathon sponsor John Hancock for including the ARL in the 2015 charity bib program!










April is National Heartworm Awareness Month

ARL’s Boston Veterinary Care Offering April Special!

Did you know… it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to spread Heartworm disease to your pet?

Heartworm disease

Source: www.heartwormsociety.org

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal illness for cats, dogs, and ferrets, as well as other mammals. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of affected animals. Heartworm may result in lung disease, heart failure, or other organ damage.

Although this sounds scary (it is!), Heartworm disease can be avoided altogether with the necessary preventative measures.

Protect your pet by reading these 6 FAQs about Heartworm:

  1. How can Heartworm disease spread to my pet? Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes carrying the parasite Dirofilaria Immitis. When an infected mosquito bites a cat, dog, ferret, or other mammal, larvae are transmitted into the bloodstream and ultimately settle in the heart, arteries, blood vessels, and lungs after a period of months.
  2. Which pets are most at risk? Outdoor cats and dogs who spend a significant amount of time outside are most at risk, as well as those indoor pets who live in particularly mosquito-dense areas.
  3. What symptoms should I look for? Signs of Heartworm disease can be very subtle or very severe depending on the case. Symptoms may include persistent cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, decreased appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. As the disease progresses, an animal may experience fainting, seizures, difficulty walking, or fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Kittens, puppies, and senior pets face the highest risk of developing the more severe symptoms.
  4. How is Heartworm disease diagnosed? It takes approximately 6 months after being bitten by an infected mosquito for your pet to test positive for Heartworm. A veterinarian can make a diagnosis by doing a physical examination and running blood tests.
  5. Is Heartworm disease treatable? For dogs in the US, there is treatment available. Unfortunately for cats in the US, there is currently no approved treatment. The good news, however, is that many Heartworm-infected cats are able to fight the infection themselves and can be monitored every few months, while waiting out the worms’ lifespan. Medications can also be given to help alleviate some symptoms, such as coughing and vomiting.
  6. How can I prevent my pet from contracting Heartworm disease? There are several FDA-approved medications* on the market available for both cats and dogs. Your pet should begin a heartworm preventative around 8 weeks of age, which should be taken year-round. Dogs should be tested for Heartworm every 12 months and regular check-ups for all pets are key to early detection.

Take advantage of Boston Veterinary Care’s special April offer!

Enjoy 50% off your pet’s heartworm test with your purchase of 12 months of heartworm preventative medication.
To make an appointment, please call (617) 226-5605 or email bvc@arlboston.org

*Always consult with your veterinarian before administering any type of medication to your pet.

Spring Into Action Rescue Fund Drive A Success!

Thank you for your support for the ARL’s Rescue Services Team!

You made it possible! In just 7 days we more than TRIPLED the fundraising goal for our Spring Into Action Rescue Fund Drive!

Gloucester ice rescue

Your donations make rescues like this possible. Pictured here: ARL’s Rescue team saving a duck trapped on the ice in Gloucester.

All proceeds will go directly to ARL’s Rescue Services to ensure that domestic animals and wildlife get emergency rescue assistance when they need it most.

The ARL does not receive any government or public funding for providing rescue services to the community and relies entirely on supporters like you to continue this important work.

Check out Rescue Services in action as seen on Boston.com.

On behalf of everyone at the ARL, thank you for your kindness and compassion for animals in need!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO the anonymous donor who challenged us to match their $5,000 contribution during the Spring Into Action Rescue Fund Drive and to Whole Foods Market, South End for helping us kick off the fund drive by donating 5% of sales on April 8!


Bark-off Your Calendar: 44 Days ‘til Paws in the Park

Local Cape Cod businesses joining the fun as Naming Sponsor

Join us on May 30, 11 am – 3pm for ARL’s largest community event at Drummer Boy Park, a beautiful location overlooking Cape Cod Bay in Brewster, MA!

boy playing with dog

Join us on May 30, 11am-3pm for Paws in the Park!

Paws in the Park is one of the most popular dog-friendly pet festivals on Cape Cod and features activities, entertainment, and exhibitors for the whole family to enjoy.

Saturday, May 30
11AM – 3PM
Drummer Boy Park, Brewster
Rain or shine!

$5 admission fee for adults, FREE for children under 12 years old and dogs. All proceeds from the event benefit the Animal Rescue League’s Brewster Shelter.

Here is a sneak peek of the fun to expect: *NEW for 2015

A special swag bag for the first 500 entrants

Paws Pool Pavillion*

Paws Raffle Prize Pavillion*

“Sniff it Out” Scavenger Hunt*

Photo “Doggie” Kissing Booth

Frisbee Dog Show

K9-unit demo

Pupcasso art activity for dogs

Fleece tug toy activity for dogs*

Face painting and temporary tattoos


Book signings*

DJ music

And much more!

We’re pleased to announce the following local businesses who will join the fun as a 2015 naming sponsor! 2015 Paws in the Park Naming Sponsors

PAWS Pool Pavilion Sponsor: Animal Hospital of Orleans

PAWS Prize Pavilion Sponsor: oldCape Sotheby’s International Realty

“Sniff it Out” Scavenger Hunt Sponsor: Derbyfield Kennel

Fleece Tug Toy Activity Sponsor: The Cape Cod Dog

Find more announcements about activities, food, and entertainment at arlboston.org/paws-in-park

ARL ON CAPE COD QUICK FACT #2: In 2014, the ARL’s mobile Spay Waggin’ spay/neutered over 4,000 cats and dogs on South Shore and Cape Cod.


See Something, Say Something: Understanding The Effects of “Blood Sports” on Animals

If you see signs of blood sports, you say something – how you can help animals

As part of our “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” public awareness campaign this month, we are focusing on the topic of “blood sports.”

A dog who is a victim of the illegal blood sports known as “dog fighting” and “street fighting” suffers just as much on the inside as he does on the outside.

We sat down with Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, the ARL’s vice president of animal welfare, to learn more about the effects of blood sports on the animals involved.

blood sports

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare, hosted a talk in January on dog fighting by the ASPCA’s Terry Mills in conjunction with the New England Federation of Humane Societies

ARL Blog: What are some common physically identifying signs of a fighting dog?

Dr. Smith: Fighting dogs end up bearing many scars, usually clustered around the face, neck, front legs and chest. Dogs can also suffer much more severe injuries such as broken bones and disfigurement of their ears, snouts, etc.

The scars that are visible on the outside of a fighting dog are only the tip of the iceberg in what the dog has suffered.

ARL Blog: What generally happens to the “winner” – or worse yet – the “loser” in a dog fight?

Dr S: Dogs who “win” will fight again and again, earning higher stakes with each victory.

Dogs who “lose” have a much sadder fate. They have been discovered on the side of the road, floating in the harbor, and in the garbage.  They can die shortly after the fight from trauma, but more commonly they die from a lack of appropriate veterinary attention to their wounds.

Ultimately, all dogs become the “loser” and thus find themselves abused multiple times: by inhumane housing and emotional neglect, by the fights themselves, by the life threatening infections they develop, and by the cruel deaths they suffer at the hands of their owners.

ARL Blog: What are some other “blood sports” that people should be aware of and what are the physical effects on the animals involved?

Dr S: Cockfighting (two roosters) and finch fighting (perching birds) are common in Massachusetts.

During Cockfighting between two gamecocks, owners will inject a toxic form of pesticide to increase their endurance and often attach knives to the bird’s legs. Every fight ends in serious injury or death, often for both of the birds involved.

Finch fighting between two male and one female bird has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. During finch fighting the owner will attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure maximum injury to the female finch which ultimately results in their demise.

Learn more about signs of dog-related blood sports


One Day Left to Help RESCUE!

Donate to the Spring Into Action Rescue Fund Drive, ending today!

Danny, a stray found in a marsh

Danny, hiding in the marsh area awaiting rescue.

Your donation during the Spring Into Action Rescue Fund Drive will help animals like Danny, a young stray dog who was rescued from a marsh area this week with assistance from ARL’s senior rescue technician, Danielle Genter.  Working alongside Boston Animal Control, Danielle was able to safely retrieve the frightened pup from where he was hiding and bring him into our Boston shelter for further care.

You can help ensure that dogs like Danny receive emergency assistance when they need it most by making a donation today to our Spring Into Action Rescue Fund Drive today. All proceeds will go directly to support the ARL’s Rescue Services team.

Donate now

See more of the work your donation will support! Watch our rescue services team in action, as seen on Boston.com.


ARL Participating in Humane Lobby Day 2015

Show your support for improving animal welfare in Massachusetts on Lobby Day

Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Lobby Day will take place on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the State House in Boston.

humane lobby day turtle

Turtle, a former bait dog rescued by the ARL, poses with ARL president Mary Nee and volunteer programs manager Deb Vogel at Humane Lobby Day 2014. The ARL will participate in Humane Lobby Day 2015 coming up on May 13.

Citizen animal advocates like you are invited to learn and practice lobbying for animal protection laws at the state level. This full-day event includes a lobbying workshop and an overview of relevant bills in the MA state legislature.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), alongside other local and national animal welfare organizations, will participate in Humane Lobby Day on Wednesday, May 13! This special day is a great way for us to meet with elected officials about legislation that will significantly impact animals.

Read the ARL’s current legislative agenda

The ARL will focus on informing legislators about how they can help increase awareness about important animal welfare, safety, and health issues among their constituents.

We hope to see you there! Follow the ARL on Twitter for photos and live updates from the event.

Your presence matters!

Visit the website for the Humane Society of the United States to get involved.  May 8 is the last day to register!


I Found A Baby Bird. What Do I Do Now?

The ARL provides tips on when and how to rescue a baby bird on the ground

Spring has sprung. The sun is shining. Flowers are blooming. And baby birds are learning to fly.

This time of year, The ARL receives phone calls from concerned citizens who come across baby birds on the ground. Although this sight may seem alarming, remember that part of the process of learning to fly comes with being on the ground. It’s typically best to keep a safe distance and not to intervene unless you’re sure the bird is orphaned or is in immediate danger.

To decide whether or not to step in the next time you spot a baby bird on the ground, follow this helpful flow chart:

What to do if you find a baby bird - flowchart

If the flow chart points you toward intervention, follow these 11 steps to ensure a safe rescue:

How to rescue a baby bird*†:

  1. Grab clean container with a lid and line the bottom with a soft cloth. Poke air holes if there are none.
  2. Wear gloves to protect yourself from the bird’s beak, talons, wings, and any potential parasites.
  3. Cover the bird with a light sheet or towel.
  4. Gently pick up the bird and place it in the prepared container.
  5. Warm the bird if it’s chilled by placing one end of the container on top of a heating pad (low setting) or in a shallow dish of warm water. You can also wrap the container with the warm cloth.
  6. Tape the container closed.
  7. Note exactly where you found the bird. This will be very important for release.
  8. Keep the bird in a warm dark quiet place away from children and animals. Do not give it food or water.
  9. Wash your hands and any clothing and objects that were in contact with the bird to avoid spreading any potential parasites.
  10. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency, or wildlife veterinarian.
  11. Get the bird to the wildlife expert as soon as possible. It is against the law in most states to keep wild animals in your home if you do not have a permit, even if you plan to release them.

To find a wildlife expert in your area, contact the New England Wildlife Center.


*Only adults should rescue baby birds. Before rescuing an adult bird, seek guidance from a wildlife expert.

†Source: Healers of the Wild: People Who Care For Injured and Orphaned Wildlife, By Shannon K. Jacobs