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Animal Rescue League recognized by the Boston City Council

A rescue dog, Basil. The Boston City Council recently recognized the Animal Rescue League of Boston for 120 years of service. COURTESY OF KERRY LASALVIA

On its 120th anniversary, the Animal Rescue League of Boston was recognized by the Boston City Council for its many years of service towards the Greater Boston Area, protecting animal safety and advocating for comprehensive animal welfare policy. 

Specifically, City Council President Andrea Campbell, who adopted her dog Sparky from the ARL, invited ARL President Mary Nee, Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services Edward Schettino and Advocacy Director Allison Blanck to be recognized by the council Wednesday.

Mike DeFina, media relations officer for ARL, wrote in an email that ceremony included a presentation summarizing the ARL’s 120 years of work within the city and the services currently offered by the non-profit. The presentation also touched on the ARL’s future plans and highlighted ways in which the ARL is directly benefiting some Boston neighborhoods.

“ARL was thrilled with the warm reception and was honored to again address the council and those in attendance of the important work that the organization has been doing since 1899,” DeFina wrote.

District Councilor Matt O’Malley joked during the ceremony about the important roles pets play in people’s lives, especially politicians.

“Harry Truman famously said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,’” O’Malley said. “While we’re not in Washington, we are in Boston and I think the adage holds true for all of us in government and public service.”

O’Malley said he was particularly proud of working with the ARL to pass an ordinance combating the spread of puppy mills within Boston.

“I am particularly proud of the support that they lead in this body when they passed the Puppy Mill Bill several years ago,” O’Malley said. “I think one of the most innovative animal rights bills in the Commonwealth, if not New England, which has now been emulated in Cambridge, Stoneham and several other companion pieces of legislation with the state house.”

Campbell said many of the ARL’s services go unrecognized, particularly their programs in the communities of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.

“It’s hard to sometimes find programs that have such reach but are intentional about going into community to serve folks,” Campbell said. “They offer a lot in terms of addressing constituent services. So they want to be partners with us in that work.”

Campbell said when ARL staff work with families in these communities, they often encounter other issues that need to be addressed, including unsafe housing conditions and the health of families and their children.

“So that’s an important access point,” Campbell said. “Who knew that animals could be an access point in order to meet larger needs, or other needs, I should say, as a family?”

DeFina wrote that the ARL opened Boston’s first animal shelter in 1899 and has expanded dramatically since then. 

Now, the ARL has adoption centers in Boston, Dedham and Brewster, deploys animal rescue teams and employs special state police officers to investigate crimes against animals including cruelty, neglect abuse, DeFina wrote.

In 2018, the department logged investigations involving 3,000 animals, resulting in 56 prosecutions, DeFina wrote.

Kelly Horan, 24, of South Boston, said she was given the opportunity to contribute $500 to a charity through her job at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and chose ARL as her charity because of the important work they do.

“My request was to provide the ARL with blankets, toys, general comfort needs,” Horan said. “Although pounds and rescue leagues do a good job in trying to find animals a good place to live, they are so short on funds so they need help from the public for comfort items.”

Riti Kumar, 24, of Jamaica Plains, said she thinks more needs to be done to protect animals.

“I think that it’s important not to use animals for treatments and scientific testings,” Kumar said. 

Mariana Duran, 27, of Cambridge, said it is important to adopt pets from an animal shelter.

“I am currently not a pet owner, but if I were to ever adopt a dog, it would be from a shelter,” Catarina said. “There are so many animals in need.”

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