BOSTON (WHDH) - The Animal Rescue League of Boston is reminding people who need to surrender their pets to do so properly following an uptick of abandoned animals outside their shelters.

Last week, a pair of guinea pigs were found about 1,000 feet from the Animal Care and Adoption Center doors in Dedham in a urine-and-feces-soaked box with a hand-written message, reading, “Adopt me, I’m cute,” according to the ARL.

The former owners did not contact anyone inside the shelter, so the ARL says it was “sheer luck” that an employee discovered the small box while leaving for the day.

A cat was also found last week outside ARL’s Boston shelter doors in a carrier with a hand-written note describing difficult personal circumstances, the ARL added.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the animals found are being quarantined for 14 days in case of a possible exposure to the virus.

ARL Law Enforcement Director Lt. Alan Borgal says this is unfortunately a common occurrence for the ARL and other animal welfare organizations.

“When people inside the shelter building are unaware that an animal has been left outside, that is considered abandonment, which is a felony in Massachusetts,” he said. “When this happens the animals are put at risk by being exposed to the elements, animal predators and a variety of other threats, and sadly we have seen a number of instances where the animal wasn’t found until it was it was too late.”

The ARL is committed to keeping pets and families together but they say they understand that circumstances do arise where the animal may not be able to remain in the home. If this happens, pet owners are told to reach out to the ARL to make sure they surrender their pet properly.

“Surrendering an animal is certainly not an easy decision,” Borgal said. “However, ARL as an organization exists to help both animals and people, and if surrender is necessary, there are no judgements, no shaming, no accusations. We just want what’s best for both the animal and people involved. Additionally, surrender gives us, as animal care givers, the opportunity to learn more about the animal’s behavior and habits, which further helps ARL find a suitable match for a new home.”

ARL Law Enforcement is investigating the incident in Dedham, and asks that anyone with information to call 617-426-9170, or email

People who need to surrender an animal is asked to call ARL’s Boston, Dedham, or Brewster Intake Offices at 617-426-9170.

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