September 15, 2015


 Boston pets’ century-old guardian Angell

Posted Sept. 2, 2015
This year marks the centennial of Angell Animal Medical Center, the veterinary hospital and Boston institution recognized as a leading innovator in companion animal medicine.

Since its doors first opened on Longwood Avenue a hundred years ago, Angell has launched the nation’s first veterinary internship program, established a first-of-its-kind intensive care unit, and performed the first successful kidney transplant in a cat. The hospital was named in honor of George Angell, the Boston lawyer who, in 1868, founded the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the 1940s, a sailor brings his cat to what was then known as Angell Memorial Animal Hospital.(Courtesy of MSPCA-Angell)

The nation’s second oldest humane society, MSPCA has been in operation since 1915. During the 1970s, the organization and Angell relocated to their current home on South Huntington Avenue in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood on Boston’s southwest side. Last year, Angell opened a second hospital—MSPCA-Angell West—in the nearby city of Waltham.

Staff at Angell’s Boston location currently include approximately 80 full-time veterinarians in addition to some 160 veterinary technicians and nurses. Along with a broad range of veterinary specialties, including dermatology, diagnostic imaging, neurology, and ophthalmology, Angell offers around-the-clock emergency and critical care services as well as a poison control hotline for veterinarians and pet owners.

Although cats and dogs constitute the lion’s share of Angell’s caseload, staff veterinarians also see birds, small mammals, fish, reptiles, and even the occasional pet chicken and pig. “Last year, we had a little over 61,000 visits, and that represented about 36,000 unique patients,” explained Dr. Ann Marie Greenleaf, Angell’s chief of staff. “We pretty much see everything but the large farm animals.”

Given its reputation for state-of-the-art veterinary care, Angell attracts pet owners from across and beyond New England.

“We have a staff that draws clients from around the country,” Dr. Greenleaf said. “One of our neurologists, Dr. (Allen) Sisson, works with granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis patients, and people fly their pets to him for treatment. There also are folks in Bermuda who fly over to us with their pets.”

Within the veterinary community, Angell is known for its prestigious internship program, initiated in 1940. Up to 13 veterinarians intern in one of a dozen specialties at the hospital annually, Dr. Greenleaf said, adding that surgery and emergency and critical care typically attract the most interns. Around 800 veterinarians have so far participated in Angell’s internship program, she estimated.

The advent of Angell’s centennial celebration was planned to coincide with the AVMA Annual Convention in Boston, according to Dr. Greenleaf. “We timed our kickoff celebration around the AVMA meeting so that our alumni would hopefully be in town and come celebrate with us,” she said.

In addition to hospital tours and client goodie bags, Angell’s lobby featured a photo booth, along with a display with highlights from the hospital’s storied history. A time capsule was sealed at Angell and will remain closed for a hundred years. Also, Fenway Park had an Angell Day.