Executive Director Shelly Butler underscores that P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center is a social-service-based animal shelter, rather than simply a shelter for stray animals. Hannaford has P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center through its Community Bag and Bloomin’ 4 Good Programs.
Tell us about P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center.
Our mission is to provide care for homeless dogs and cats until they can be placed in permanent, responsible homes while promoting humane values in our community through outreach and educational programs.
It all started in 1974, when a Midcoast Maine resident found a stray dog in his neighborhood. He decided to take him in and named him Finnegan. From there more and more homeless animals turned up in need of homes, and the gentleman enlisted the help of his friends. Soon, Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League (now PAWS Animal Adoption Center) was formed, and Finnegan’s legacy would go on to inspire the saving of thousands of lives.
We serve 12 coastal communities right here in the Midcoastal area of Maine with Camden right in the middle.
What services do you provide to the community?
We offer a wide array of services including cat and dog adoptions, owner surrenders, pet re-homing assistance, wellness & vaccination clinics, affordable spay/neuter, pet food & supply pantry.
We also offer boarding and affordable medical care to partner agency clients. These partner agencies include New Hope Midcoast – Domestic Violence Agency, Coastal Healthcare Alliance (Penbay & Waldo County Hospitals), Knox County Homeless Coalition, Meals on Wheels, Waldo County Humane Society, Waldo County Pet Food Pantry, Penquis Social Service Agency and Knox County Health Coalition.
What sets your organization apart from others in your community?
I think the one thing that we do that nobody else around us does in our general area is that we provide supportive services for many of our other social service agencies and their clients. For example, right now we are sheltering in place some cats from a domestic violence victim who is in hiding. She didn’t want to have to give up her cats. So, we are sheltering the cats and we’ll give them free medical care and we’ll hold them here until she can get to a safe place.
We’ve done a lot of that during COVID. We must’ve done 30 or 40 animals from domestic violence shelters, and then we also do the same thing for the homeless coalition, people who are in between homes that don’t want to have to give up their animals just because they don’t have a place to reside.
We help out anybody who finds themselves in one of our hospitals and doesn’t have pet care. We receive phone calls from social workers because patients need to have a medical procedures and their pets have nowhere to go while the owners are in the hospital. We bring in those animals so they can be returned to their owners when they get out of the hospital. I think our supportive services are one of the most important things that we do.
We are a social service-based animal shelter, as opposed to just a stray animal shelter. Who we are here to cater to depends on need as well as pet owners, whatever a pet owner may need. So that’s a wonderful differentiator too. Of course, we have animals for adoption that have found themselves in our animal shelter by way of being homeless, abandoned or neglected, and we also bring up dogs from high kill shelters in the south.
And then we work with other service providers to do spay and neuter procedures. We have a full-service animal hospital here in the shelter and do all of our own medical care in-house. We do low-income spay and neuter procedures and wellness clinics for the general public.
We provide supportive services for many of our other social service agencies and their clients.
Tell us a story that illustrates the good work you are doing.
Late on a Friday evening, I received a call at home asking for help. Michelle was a 1 1/2-year-old lab who had eaten a rock, was in extreme distress and in urgent need of surgery. As it turned out, this was Michelle’s second trip to the emergency clinic this year and financially, it was just too much for her owners to manage. Their options were limited – a very expensive surgery or euthanasia. Michelle’s future looked bleak. Thanks to the Second Chance Fund we were able to welcome Michelle to P.A.W.S. and save her life. She had the surgery and is now living well in her adoptive home.
Kellie, a young cat, was brought to P.A.W.S. in a coma and appeared to be going through the end stages of life. She was jaundiced, lifeless and in liver failure. For weeks, our staff and volunteers cared for her. All she needed was a kind touch, necessary medical care and the motivation to eat. Did you know, that after a few days of not eating, cats actually forget that they need to eat? Today, Kellie is healthy, fun-loving and living large in her adoptive home.
What is your greatest contribution to the community?
Being able to offer affordable spay/neuter to pet owners in need and offering supportive services to clients of our social service partners so they do not have to surrender their pets to the shelter when they find themselves in a challenging situation.
What are the most important things you want people to know about your organization?
First, we help over 1,000 animals every year and the need continues to increase. Second, we are here to help our community of pet owners with services and supplies when they need us. And third, we work with local social service agencies to provide a safe place for animals when their owners are in a difficult place, such as hospitalized, homeless or in hiding due to domestic violence.
We help over 1,000 animals every year and the need continues to increase.
How did you hear about the Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag and Bloomin’ 4 Good Programs?
Hannaford reached out to us to tell us about the programs. P.A.W.S. is humbled by the number of initiatives that Hannaford offers to assist nonprofits in our area and we consider Hannaford to be a very generous partner and one that we are thankful for.
How will you use the funds raised from these programs?
All funds raised though the Hannaford initiatives will go directly to support the care of the animals in the shelter.