The first sign that something was wrong: birds were falling from trees.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston responded to a call from an address in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on Thursday after a resident observed a bevy of sick birds in the area and reported that her cat was also sick.
“The ARL immediately gave emergency treatment to one cat, but unfortunately the cat could not be saved,” a press release said. “Additionally, 47 Grackle-type birds were either falling to the ground, sick, thrashing and unable to fly, or were found unresponsive.”
The numbers are perplexing: 12 birds were found dead on scene, 8 birds passed away on their way to the shelter, and 12 birds were humanely euthanized due to their poor condition.
Fifteen of the birds were in good condition in the custody of the Animal Rescue League of Boston veterinary team, the press release said, and on Friday, the animals were sent to Tufts Wildlife Center in Grafton, Massachusetts.
The ARL will work with the State Department of Agriculture, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, City of Boston Inspectional Services Department, and Boston Public Health Commission to determine the cause of the unusual incident. There are no updates on the situation at this time, the ARL told PEOPLE.
As a precaution, the ARL instructed that these birds be isolated and neighbors were advised to keep dogs and other animals away from the area.
To donate funds to the care of these birds and more animals at the Boston shelter, click here.