May 14 is National Disaster Animal Preparedness Day!

Follow these 6 steps to be “pet prepared” during an emergency

In 2010 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the second Saturday in May as National Disaster Animal Preparedness Day, to help pet families focus on the importance of having a family disaster plan that also includes their pets.

In recognition of National Disaster Animal Preparedness Day, the ARL and Hill’s Pet Nutrition remind pet owners to always be ready for the unexpected.

Whether it’s a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or other natural disaster, emergencies happen. Just as you’ve created an “in case of emergency” plan for your family, it’s smart to do the same for your pet. Keep in mind that what’s safest for you is typically also what’s safest for them.

Not sure what to do to prepare for an emergency? First and foremost, be sure to prepare a pet emergency bag. Keep it handy in case you need to evacuate your home in a hurry. Take a look at ARL’s list of supplies that your pet will need.

Then follow these 6 important steps to keep your furry family members safe:

National Pet Preparedness Day

 For more National Disaster Animal Preparedness Day tips, visit


ARL Saves Baby Owl and Kittens during Snowstorm

All in a day’s work: Rescue Services helps newborn critters in New England


ARL’s Rescue Services pulled nine kittens from an old work duct in Jamaica Plain. The kittens are now safe in ARL’s foster care!

On Monday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Rescue Service team, Danielle Genter and Mike Brammer responded to a call for help from an employee of the VA Hospital in Jamaica Plain, MA.

The concerned citizen contacted the ARL when the feral cat that she feeds on Monday mornings did not come out as usual. She could, however, hear the animal whimpering and assumed it was stuck somewhere outdoors.

ARL’s Rescue team arrived on the scene and quickly identified two holes near the building. During their initial inspection, they looked into the holes and took photographs, but did not hear anything. Shortly after placing food inside the hole, however, they heard a faint meow coming from one of the holes.

ARL’s expert rescue technicians, Danielle Genter and Mike Brammer, try to place the baby owl back in its nest.

ARL’s expert rescue technicians, Danielle Genter and Mike Brammer, attempt to return the baby owl to its nest.

Click here to read the full story, as reported by

After pulling one kitten out of the small hole under the building, Danielle and Mike were in for a surprise: in total they found nine 4-week-old kittens taking cover from the storm inside the old duct work!

“Gradually, one by one, we pulled all nine kittens out. We were there for about an hour trying to catch them,” says Mike.

Although cold and hungry, all nine kittens were in perfect heath and were transferred to ARL’s foster care program where they’ll stay until they’re old enough to be put up for adoption.

Earlier in the week, the kittens’ feral cat mom had also been taken into ARL’s Boston shelter for spay surgery and later released.


While in Jamaica Plain, the Rescue Team also responded to the Arnold Arboretum where a small baby owl was found on the ground below its nest. At first, Danielle and Mike attempted to return the owl to its home.

With the help of arboretum staff and a bucket truck, the baby owl was returned to its nest where its two siblings were waiting. The team was packing up and ready to leave when someone spotted the baby owl on the ground- again! It had either fallen, or been kicked out by its siblings.

Click here to read the full story, as reported by

With the threat of freezing overnight temperatures coming in and the possible predators that could harm the young bird, the team ultimately determined that the baby owl would be safest at the Blue Hill’s Trailside Museum in Milton, MA.

TO LEARN MORE about ARL’s Rescue Services team, visit!

…or follow them live on Twitter @ARLBostonRescue!


Winter Weather Closings

ARL programs and administrative offices closed on February 8

Due to the winter weather, the following ARL programs will be closed to the public on Monday, February 8:

  • ARL adoption centers in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham
  • ARL rescue services
  • Boston Veterinary Care
  • Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery
  • Spay Waggin’

Shelter staff and volunteers will stay at the shelter to make sure the animals remain safe, warm, and in good spirits as the snow flies on Monday.

winter shelter ferl cats

You can provide feral cats with shelter during a snow storm! An elevated foam bin filled with straw offers warm shelter.

When a snow storm hits, we often receive an increasing number of calls from concerned citizens with questions about feral cats.  Our rescue team suggests trying to coax a feral cat indoors to a garage or basement if possible for shelter during a storm.

If that’s not possible, watch our helpful how-to video to build a DIY cat shelter.  Make sure to line the inside with straw and use cinder blocks or boards to get the cat shelter off the ground.

For more winter weather pet safety tips, visit


Top 7 ARL Animal Rescues of 2015

ARL’s rescue services team celebrates their favorite happy tail moments from this year – all made possible thanks to supporters like you! DONATE NOW

DID YOU KNOW… that the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is the only animal welfare organization in Massachusetts that has a technically-trained team dedicated to rescuing animals from a variety of emergency situations?

So far in 2015, ARL’s rescue services team has assisted 1,788 domesticated animals and wildlife that were trapped, displaced, injured or otherwise distressed. Click here to watch ARL’s rescue services team in action, as seen on

The team is only there to answer the call for help because of donors like you!

THE CLOCK IS TICKING… and we still need to raise just over $592,000 by MIDNIGHT ON DECEMBER 31 to keep this important work going!

The ARL counts down our top 7 animal rescues from 2015:

ARL's rescue services team#7 – Canton deer pushed to safety

In March, a deer in Canton, MA went for a dip in a neighbor’s in-ground pool. Unfortunately for him, the concrete pool was empty and too deep for him to climb out of on his own.

Cue ARL’s resourceful rescue services team and facilities director who constructed a special ramp that allowed them to push the deer out of the pool uninjured!


ARL's rescue services team#6 – It’s all upstream for the Gloucester Beaver Family

In May, three beavers were found stuck in a dry spillway off Dikes Pond in Gloucester, MA. The walls of the spillway were anywhere from 5 to 8 feet high, which was just too steep of an incline for the beavers to scale safely.

Three members of ARL’s rescue services team armed with catch poles and large nets successfully captured the beaver family. They then carried them a quarter of a mile downstream to release them in Lily Pond unharmed!


ARL's rescue services team#5 – Lancaster goats are on the run no more

In January, the ARL was called in to capture a pair of goats that had been wandering along busy Route 190 between Sterling and Lancaster, MA. The two goats had reportedly been on the loose for up to 6 months and had become somewhat feral.

Thanks to their specially designed ungulate trap, ARL’s rescue services team was able to carefully capture both goats in the same trap. The duo was transported to ARL’s Dedham shelter where they were eventually adopted!


ARL's rescue services team#4 – Lowell goat finds shelter before the big snowstorm

In January, an elusive goat wandering around the greater Lowell, MA area for over a month had a fortunate intervention. The “Lowell goat”, as he became known, had been spotted trekking through the snow and was inching dangerously closer and closer to I-495.

With the hope of bringing the shaggy two-horned rambler to safety before an impending major snowstorm, ARL’s rescue services team set up a humane trap. They were in luck! The goat was transported to ARL’s Dedham shelter barn for proper food, water, and rest in a fresh bed of straw. After regaining his strength, he was transferred to a sanctuary in Central Massachusetts and given the name Braveheart. Click here to read the full rescue story.


ARL's rescue services team#3 – Boxer escapes an icy situation in West Roxbury

In March, a happy-go-lucky family dog was overcome with spring fever and decided to wade into a stream along the outskirts of Millennium Park in West Roxbury, MA. Deciding the water was a bit too chilly for his liking, the Boxer turned back for shore, only to find an icy shelf blocking his path.

Working alongside the dog’s caregiver, Boston Park Rangers, and the Boston Police, ARL’s rescue services team extended a catch-pole across the narrow stream to grab hold of the dog and pull him back onto solid ground. The Boxer received a warm welcome- and towel rub down- the minute his paws touched land. Click here to read the full rescue story.


ARL's rescue services team#2 – It was all net gains for dog in Norfolk

In June, timid pup Faith had her wish come true and found her forever home! Within only 2 short hours at her new house in Norfolk, MA, however, she was spooked by gun shots fired at a nearby range and ran off with her leash dragging behind her. Faith’s new family was absolutely devastated.

Fortunately, Faith stuck close to the neighborhood for the next 7 weeks and after other attempts to bring her home had failed, the dog’s family called ARL’s rescue services team. A humane drop net was set and the lucky dog was caught and returned to her owners the very next day! Since then Faith has become a social butterfly who loves frolicking along the beach and is inseparable from her canine brother. Click here to read the full rescue story.


ARL's rescue services team#1 – One lucky duck rescued from Gloucester Harbor

In February, a duck swimming in icy water found himself in a tangled mess. The brown and white aquatic bird was paddling through the harbor in Gloucester, MA when his feathers and feet suddenly became entangled in netting that had been floating nearby.

Dressed in head-to-toe ice suits, the ARL’s rescue services team carefully swam between small ice flows to reach the Eider who was almost 300-feet off-shore! The team successfully pulled the duck onto dry land, slowly but surely untangled his feathers from each piece of netting, and set him free!

It’s not too late to… DONATE NOW

The ARL doesn’t receive government or public funding to provide rescue services to animals in distress. Make a donation today to ensure domestic animals and wildlife get assistance when they need it most!

Visit or click on the DONATE button below to make a donation to the Animal Rescue League of Boston!


FUN FACT: ARL’s rescue services team helped bring 104 cats stuck in trees to safety so far in 2015!


ARL Rescues Berlin Raccoon from Utility Pole

The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s rescue services team brings injured raccoon to safety in Berlin, MA

berlin raccoon

ARL’s rescue services team brought a raccoon in Berlin, MA to safety after being trapped on top of a high-voltage utility pole for 3 days!

Earlier this week, the ARL’s rescue services team was called in by the National Grid to help rescue a raccoon from the top of a utility pole in Berlin, Massachusetts.

Residents first noticed the injured raccoon perched on top of the high-voltage pole on Pleasant Street last Thursday and became increasingly worried with each day that he remained stuck up there .

Concerned neighbors began calling the National Grid, the Berlin police department, and posting pleas for help on social media. They even scattered bails of hay around the base of the utility pole to soften the fall, just in case the raccoon accidentally slipped.

After 3 days of being trapped with no end in sight, the ARL’s rescue services team was called in to help bring the injured raccoon to safety.

Click here to watch the Berlin raccoon rescue video, as covered by Channel 7 News.

As soon as the National Grid shut down the high-voltage power, the ARL crew quickly began their recovery effort. Using a boom lift to raise them to the top of the pole, ARL’s rescue services team carefully scooped the raccoon into a large net and brought him down to safety.

berlin raccoon

The Berlin raccoon, now safe, was transported to a local wildlife rehabilitation center for medical attention and recovery.

There was one additional scare, however! Once on the ground, the raccoon slipped out of the net and scampered away from the crowd and busy street. Fortunately, Danielle Genter on ARL’s rescue services team was able to outrun the injured raccoon and re-capture him in the net before safely placing him in a transport cage.

“The rescue went about as smooth as we’d hoped for, in a high traffic street,” said Danielle Genter.

Upon initial evaluation, the raccoon appeared to be injured and dehydrated. He was taken to a local wildlife rehabilitation center for immediate medical attention and recovery.

Berlin resident Karen Blakeney reached out to the ARL afterward with this note of gratitude:

“I wanted to thank everyone involved from your wonderful organization for rescuing the raccoon by my house in Berlin today. You did a truly outstanding job and the world is such a better place with people like you in it… Thank you again for the important work you do every day!”

A big THANK YOU to all of the concerned Berlin residents, the Berlin police department, and the National Grid for helping to bring an injured raccoon to safety!

For more information about ARL’s rescue services team, visit


Lend a Paw to Oliver Twist!

LEND A PAW and give animals like Oliver Twist the gift of love

It’s Day 4 of our Lend a Paw Match-a-thon!

There’s just two days left to make DOUBLE the difference for animals in need!

A generous anonymous donor will automatically match every dollar you donate to the ARL through November 10 — your donation will go even farther when you DONATE NOW!

Every day during our Match-a-thon, we’re featuring the stories of special animals who got a chance at a better life thanks to your support.

Yesterday, we share the story of Big B and today we would like you to….

Meet Oliver Twist

This is what poor little Oliver Twist looked like when our Senior Rescue Technician, Danielle, first brought him in.

This photo was taken on the first day Oliver came to our Boston Shelter. This poor guy was clearly emaciated and needed immediate medical attention.

On a cold winter day, a FedEx driver named Jeff called the ARL after spotting a severely emaciated 6-month-old puppy shivering and wandering the streets along his delivery route.

The ARL’s Rescue Services Team immediately responded to the call, and worked to track down the puppy.   They were stunned by what they found.

“We could see his bones jutting through his skin,” describes Danielle Genter, senior rescue technician at the ARL. “When we found him, he just stumbled over to us.”

At the ARL’s Boston shelter, the frail little pup received immediate medical attention along with the name Oliver Twist. On the Purina body condition scale a score of “9” is considered obese and “1” is extremely lean; Oliver scored less than 1. He was also diagnosed with a bacterial infection.

Over the next few weeks, Oliver’s condition stabilized. He was placed on a progressive re-feeding schedule and soon began to eat on his own. ARL veterinarians checked him daily to ensure that he was gaining the expected amount of weight and treated his infection. He also received lots of love and attention from shelter staff.

With special care and attention, Oliver was ready for a home just a few weeks after his rescue.   After seeing Oliver’ story on the news, Billie Jean Nebesky and her daughter felt an instant connection with him. “We knew he needed us and we needed him,” said Nebesky.

They adopted him were happy to report that he has made himself completely at home and his favorite activity is to fetch big sticks in the woods near his home.

“If we sit down in a chair, Oliver will immediately join you and cuddle,” smiles his new mom. “He clearly knows he is part of our family.”

The ARL is the only animal welfare organization in the state with a rescue team trained to help animals in distress.  The ARL does not receive any government or public funding for rescue services and relies entirely on supporters like you to provide animals like Oliver Twist with immediate assistance.


oliver twist

On the left, Oliver during his initial medical exam at our Boston Shelter. On the right, Oliver and his new mom enjoying some snuggle time together!


Inspired by her cherished lab and goldens who offered many years of comfort and unconditional love to family and friends, an anonymous donor wants to lend a paw and will double every dollar donated to the Animal Rescue League of Boston during our Lend a Paw Match-a-Thon, November 5-10.

oliver twist

DOUBLE the difference you make for animals in need by making a donation during our Lend a Paw Match-a-thon! Click the photo to donate now.

Our goal is raise $6000 in six days—matched dollar-for-dollar by the anonymous donor for grand total of $12,000—to provide care and assistance to animals, when and where they need it most.


As a special thanks from Sephora… Donate $100 or more by midnight TOMORROW November 9, and you will automatically be entered to win a gift box from Sephora valued at over $300!

Click here or on the DONATE button below to make a donation to ARL’s Lend a Paw Match-a-thon!


THANK YOU to Sephora and everyone who has donated to the Lend A Paw Match-a-thon to help animals in need!


ARL Rescue Assists in Capture of Brookline Cockatoo

Pet bird finally brought in after months on the fly

After several months of living out in the wilds of Brookline, Massachusetts, pet cockatoo Dino is finally back in his cage.

The ARL’s Rescue Services team stepped in to assist the owners of the bird and Brookline police and animal control last week.

Dino Brookline Cockatoo evades capture

Dino, an escaped pet cockatoo, evaded capture all summer long. The ARL rescue services team stepped in to offer assistance in his capture late last week in the hopes of bringing him before winter.

Though residents of the Brookline neighborhood had grown a bit weary of his penchant for eating siding and early morning screeching, they also felt concern for Dino’s well-being with winter on the way.

As temperatures began to plummet late last week, the urgency to bring him in grew.

Working alongside other concerned rescuers, the ARL relied on a bit of bird psychology to bring in this feathered friend.  Cockatoos can become jealous of other birds, so the team set a special trap and with a lure bird to draw Dino’s attention.

Apparently green with envy, Dino entered the cage and his rogue wanderer days were over.

This evening, Dino is headed for a visit with his veterinarian to make sure all is well.

THANK YOU to the Brookline Police, Brookline Animal Control, the other rescue and caged bird groups, and the very patient neighbors and owner of the home that had become Dino’s favorite roosting spot.  Your kindness and compassion for this wayward bird is very much appreciated!

Photos courtesy of The Boston Globe.



Steel Leghold Traps: What You Need to Know to Keep Animals Safe

ARL’s director of law enforcement explains the dangers of this illegal trapping device

Earlier this month, we shared the incredible story of Wilson, a 6-year-old stray cat in Westport, Massachusetts who found himself in a very painful situation—an illegal steel leghold trap snapped shut on his right paw.

Read Wilson’s full story

Though Wilson kept his leg, more often animals suffer amputations and even death as a result of becoming trapped in this illegal hunting device.

In fact, the cruel suffering that animals stuck in leghold traps endured inspired the ARL to team up with other animal welfare organizations to push for legislation prohibit their use.  In 1996, the ARL and others successfully helped pass legislation that made it illegal to use or possess a leg hold trap.

Unfortunately, recently proposed legislation seeks to loosen or eliminate restrictions.

Lieutenant Alan Boral, director of the ARL’s law enforcement team, describes the dangers of illegal steel leghold traps (also called foot-hold traps) and why they are inhumane.

ARL Blog: Can you explain to our readers what a steel leghold trap is typically used for and what happens once an animal triggers it?

Lt. Alan Borgal: Of course. Steel leghold traps are a hunting device commonly used to capture so-called nuisance animals to keep them away from communities, livestock, endangered wildlife, and public water systems. People may think that this is the only way to manage certain animals, when, in fact, there are other legal and more humane methods.

There are different types of leghold traps, but the overall mechanism is the same. A steel leghold trap is a spring-operated trap that is shaped similar to an animal jaw. It is supposed to be anchored by a short chain attached to a stake in the ground to keep the captured animal in that exact spot. The weight of the animal stepping on the trap triggers the “jaws” to snap shut on the animal’s leg- or other body part- in a vice-like grip.

ARL Blog: How can an animal free itself from a steel leghold trap—or can it?

AB: The force of the steel leghold trap snapping shut on an animal’s leg has already inflicted serious damage and pain. In most situations, the animal can only be freed from the trap by human hands. However, even officials trained in animal rescue cannot always remove a trap without causing further injury.

Sadly, most animals instinctively react to the shock and pain by frantically trying to pull their leg out of the trap. In a desperate attempt to free themselves, the animal often sustains more injuries, such as

leghold traps

In June of 2013, Philbert, a stray from Athol, was rescued and brought to the ARL with an illegal leghold trap clamped to his left leg. Unfortunately, his leg had to be amputated due to the extent of its injuries. Lucky for Philbert, he was adopted by a wonderful family and is now living happy and comfortably.

bone fractures, muscle and tendon tears, and tooth and mouth damage from biting at their trapped limb and the trap itself.

If a trapped animal is not found soon enough, it can die from blood loss, shock, or starvation—or other deadly circumstances such as environmental conditions and falling prey to other animals.


Breaking News: Cat Caught in Brutal Illegal Trap in Westport, MA Now Recovering and Awaiting Adoption at the Animal Rescue League of Boston

Learn what you can do to protect animals like Wilson!

At the end of May, the Westport animal control and police department contacted the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) asking for assistance with a cat caught in an illegal trap.

cat caught in illegal leg hold trap

A close-up of Wilson’s paw caught in the illegal leg hold trap and after it had been treated by emergency and ARL veterinarians.

A concerned citizen had spotted the approximately 6-year-old stray orange and white cat, now named Wilson, struggling with a heavy metal object attached to his right leg. Officials identified the metal object as an illegal leg hold trap.

Leg hold traps are a hunting tool widely considered inhumane due to the severe injury they can inflict on an animal, such as bone fractures, amputations, or even death. Once a trap is set, any animal can trigger it, putting domesticated animals such as dogs and cats like Wilson at risk.

Once captured, Westport animal control and police rushed Wilson to Mass-RI Veterinary ER animal hospital in Swansea.  After his right leg was freed from the leg hold trap, veterinarians observed incredible swelling in Wilson’s front paw and he couldn’t move his right leg properly. Thankfully, they did believe Wilson’s leg would heal.

Two days later, Wilson came to the ARL’s Boston shelter, where he was examined by lead shelter veterinarian Dr. Erin Doyle. “On initial exam, Wilson’s right paw was significantly less swollen than it had been at the hospital and he was able to bear weight on it approximately 50% of the time.”

The superficial wounds related to the trap itself were healing very well.  Just days after his ordeal, Wilson only had a faint limp when we walked and the swelling in his right paw was almost completely gone.

“Fortunately, Wilson’s injuries were much less severe than they could have been,” Dr. Doyle was relieved to report. “His right front leg and paw will return to normal function.”

According to Dr. Doyle, Wilson is ready to find a new home.  He has clearly become one of her favorite patients: “Wilson is a super sweet cat! Through all of the time I’ve spent with him handling his injured paw, he hasn’t grumbled a bit.”

Unfortunately, difficult stories like Wilson’s are sometimes what bring cats into our shelters. During Adopt-a-Cat Month this June, consider adopting cats like Wilson and give them a chance at a better life!  For more information on Wilson or other available adoptable cats, call or visit our Boston Shelter at or visit

illegal leg hold trap

Law enforcement’s photo of Wilson’s fur still caught in the illegal leg hold trap, even after it had been safely removed from his paw.

The ARL and other animal welfare organizations in Massachusetts successfully pushed for legislation in 1996 to prohibit the use of leg hold traps.  By current State law setting a leg hold traps is against the law, except in a handful of specific instances.

The ARL urges the public to learn more about proposed legislation that would repeal or loosen restrictions on the use of leg hold traps at and use the search term “trapping.”

Registered voters should contact their legislators to oppose any change to the current law.  Find your legislator


If you see something, say something. If you have any information related to Wilson or the leg hold trap, please contact the Westport Police Department at (508) 636-1122.

Watch out for and report animal traps. Keep an eye on outdoor pets during the summer and report any illegal animal traps that you come across to your local police department.

Donate to help animals like Wilson recover from injury and abuse…and protect them from harm in the future.


ARL Rescue Services On the Scene – Relocates Two Families of Geese

ARL Rescue Services helps geese families get back to nature

Spring is the start of baby bird season—and a busy time for animal rescue as bird parents sometimes choose unsafe places to bring their new babies in Greater Boston!

Last week, ARL Rescue Services was called in to help two separate families of geese from their temporary urban nests back to the river bank.


Danielle Genter, senior rescue technician, carefully approaches the baby gosling who had slipped off onto a second-floor ledge.

In Brighton: News station WGBH called the ARL after a family of Canada geese had made refuge on a small patch of grass on their building’s roof.  One of the baby goslings had slipped off onto a second-floor ledge and was desperately trying to make his way back up to his family.

On the scene, ARL Rescue Services rescued the fallen baby bird and proceeded to wrangle up the mother goose and her other two goslings to move them to safety. The father goose wasn’t all that accepting of the idea his family needed to move and put up the biggest struggle.

ARL’s Danielle Genter told WGBH reporters, “There’s only certain circumstances where we can move healthy wildlife… On a roof where they don’t have access to food – this would be one of those circumstances.”

Read about their dramatic rescue, as seen on

geese rescues

Mama and baby patiently await rescue from our Rescue Services team

In Boston: Just a few miles down the road, another family of geese was making quite a spectacle at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. ARL Rescue Services made their way to the scene after being notified that four goslings had hatched.

Over the last month, the mother and father geese gained quite a fan base as they made their nest in an empty concrete planter near a parking garage on West campus. In an effort to keep the geese and their un-hatched eggs safe, Beth Israel had thoroughly roped off the area with caution signs warning people to keep a safe distance.

“They kind of became mascots, and people took a lot of interest in them,” said Brendan Raftery, the hospital’s maintenance supervisor. “They became quite the thing here.”

Once all four hatchlings were born safely, ARL was called in to relocate the entire family. Although hospital staff was sad to see the geese go, they felt better knowing they were safe in their new home along the river bank.

Read about this adorable rescue, as seen on

DID YOU KNOW? Not all baby birds found alone or on the ground are in distress. To determine whether or not to intervene, follow this helpful flow chart.