Ashley Arseneau, Horse and Livestock Liaison at Animal Rescue League of Boston

Animal Rescue League of BostonI had every intention of becoming a Humane Law Enforcement Officer upon graduation and applied to many of the SPCA's, including the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and the Animal Rescue League of Boston. I was hired in June of 2005 as a shelter agent for the Animal Rescue League of Boston's Dedham Branch, just to get my foot in the door, so to speak.

The Animal Rescue League has many different departments: Search and Rescue, Humane Education, Behavior, Law Enforcement,  Veterinary Services, and Sheltering. Each staff member is cross-trained under the direction of the department managers. If you are looking to go the route of Humane Law Enforcement, I would highly recommend getting in touch with the Law Enforcement Departments of each respective organization to find out what their requirements are. Each organization is different. A good contact would be our Director of Law Enforcement who can be reached at

There are many different routes you can choose when working with non-profits and SPCA's. My experience as a shelter agent has allowed me to be deployed to many of the disaster area's nationally through the Animal Rescue League. I have responded to assist with search and rescue operations and disaster animal sheltering during Hurricane Katrina, as well as Hurricane Gustav. I have also been cross-trained to perform technical rescues such as: high angle rescue, cat in tree rescue (with harness and rigging), swift water rescue, ice rescue, large animal technical rescue, and small animal rescue.

Due to my livestock and horse experience, I was promoted to the position of livestock liaison for the Animal Rescue League. I work with our law enforcement department to take in neglected and abused horses who have been seized. We implement a very strict six month re-feeding process to bring these horses back both mentally and physically from severe starvation and emaciation. Sadly, if called for, we do make the decision to euthanize if a horse is behaviorally too dangerous to work with, or medically unfit for adoption. Once the horses are brought through the recovery process, they then go up for adoption.

Aside from the duties as the livestock liaison, I also work as a Shelter Agent and Adoption Counselor for the dog and cat shelter. This includes cleaning, vaccinating, behavior evaluations, euthanasia, adoptions, and counseling, for all dogs, cats and various small animals. When needed, I am on call for the Search and Rescue Department.

Due to my work through the Animal Rescue League, I was also asked to serve as the Sheltering Team Leader for the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team. For more information please see

The work we do is very emotional, and can at times be very stressful, but if you are able to see "the big picture" of it all, it is also extremely rewarding. The people you work with tend to become a second family due to the trauma of the ups and downs you face every day with very person who walks through the shelter doors. Though the pay is really minimal, both because it is in the animal field, and it is working for a non-profit, the pay off is that you love every moment you are working, and are happy to be there. Shelter agents average between $10-$13 an hour depending on experience.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have. Please feel free to check out our website at I hope I was able to give you some more insight into the animal welfare field.

Ashley Arseneau
Horse and Livestock Liaison
Shelter Agent & Adoption Counselor
781-326-0729 (Dedham Branch)

State of MA Animal Response Team
Co-Chair Shelter Operations