New animal shelter to help homeless canines
Homeless pets will soon have a shelter in Bethel.
The “Heart of the Mountains” Animal Shelter is now operating as a foster care network, but plans are in the works for a bricks-and-mortar location as well.
Foster “parents” are needed to temporarily host animals - primarily dogs - according to Dr. John Mason of Bethel.
Mason said he has wanted to be involved in establishing a shelter for a long time, and with the help of many volunteers, it’s finally becoming a reality.
“There have been adoptable dogs in the Bethel area that have been put to sleep,” he said.
Mason said he had talked with Sue Milligan, an area animal control officer, and was told the need for sheltering “was dire.”
Preparations for the Bethel effort involved consultation and coordination with animal control officers, the Bethel Animal Hospital and other area animal shelters.
Until now, homeless dogs have generally had to be transported to shelters in Fryeburg or even Franklin County. Responsible Pet Care in Norway-Paris had, until just recently, taken only cats.
Mason said the other shelters are pleased with the plans for Bethel because it will take some pressure off them.
He expects once the shelter gets established, dogs will also likely come in from just across the Maine-New Hampshire border.
He said New Hampshire dogs that are either strays or given up by their owners may be euthanized the same day. In Maine, they are generally held for at least six days before being put to sleep, he said.
With the expectation of dogs from New Hampshire, Mason said Heart of the Mountains will identify its region as the Upper Androscoggin Valley.
Dogs coming into the new shelter will be evaluated for temperament and health needs before a decision is made to put them up for adoption.
HOM will not present itself as a no-kill shelter. In cases of terminal illness or a temperment that is clearly not suitable for adoption, the shelter will not rule out euthanasia.
But, Mason said, “we’ll never give up on a dog for lack of space or care.”
So far the fledgling foster care network has taken in two dogs.
Mason has one of them himself - Sampson, a five-year-old Plott Hound who was given up by his owner.
Anyone interested in fostering a dog should have a clean, dog-proof home. When the dog is outside, it should be supervised and in a fenced-in yard or on a leash. The time for which a dog is fostered can vary.
For more about the shelter, making a donation, fostering or otherwise volunteering go to www.heartofthemountains.org.