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WBZ Cares: Animal Rescue League Deals With Animal Cruelty And Neglect Through Police Investigations

BOSTON (CBS) - Each month, WBZ Cares highlights a worthy non-profit organization, and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month's organization, The Animal Rescue League of Boston, has been working tirelessly for more than a century to rescue and care for animals in need, and now boasts three shelter locations.

Besides rescuing and caring for these animals, this welfare organization also deals with animal cruelty and neglect through innovative community programs, public advocacy, and police investigations.

For nearly 42 years he's been on the job, Lt. Alan Borgal, Director of Law Enforcement for the Animal Rescue League has seen it all.

"Dog with no shelter or it could be a severe case of beating a dog, we can get them from police departments, citizens, animal control officers, veterinary clinics," he said.

Licensed by the Commonwealth as a Special Police Officer he carries a firearm, but he's never had to use it.

In his role as an advocate for animal rights, Borgel continuously reminds pet and livestock owners that animal cruelty is a felony in Massachusetts, punishable by up to 7 years in prison. He says animal cruelty includes long-term neglect.

"Didn't provide proper water or proper food, proper shelter or protection from the weather," he said.

Many of the biggest cases he has seen are those who own livestock --  such as cows.

"There might be dairy cows out in the field and might not have access to shelter. They actually don't do that well in the winter, they need more than a tree line, they need a three sided shelter."

The Animal Rescue League's officers also deal with a lot of cases of dog owners being reported by neighbors or concerned citizens for leaving their pets out in the extreme cold or heat for too long.

"We do a lot of calls just for education. [We] explain to them 'that shelter for that dog might work in the summer but it doesn't work in the winter," he said.

"The worst thing I see is people [who] go to work, dog goes outside in the freezing cold at 8 or 9 in the morning and they [dog owner] don't get home until 7 at night."  He often explains to pet owners that in order to have an outside dog, they must be acclimated to the cold.

"Pitbull dogs or short haired dogs...they don't' do well in the cold," he said.

Under state law, dogs must be brought in from outside between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In extreme cases of abuse or cruelty, Borgal says citizen witnesses are an integral part of their investigations.

"A little different than a regular police officer, my victims don't talk, they can't tell me what happened. We rely a lot on witnesses but the forensic exam of the animal is so important to find those injuries both new and old."

Borgal urges pet owners who don't want their animals anymore to do the humane thing and drop them off at a shelter.

"Cruelly abandoning an animal is a felony in Massachusetts and we catch a lot of people and they will be prosecuted."


For more information about The Animal Rescue League of Boston, visit. or the WBZ Cares section on the website during the month of March.

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