December 1, 2012

Donations pour in to help Waterville animal shelter

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- Donations of hundreds of bags of dog food and more than $10,000 have rolled into the Humane Society Waterville Area since the shelter announced that it had run out of dog food.

click image to enlarge

Casey Foss, an employee at the Humane Society Waterville Area on Webb Road in Waterville, feeds one of the 20 dogs at the shelter on Friday. Hundreds of bags of dog and cat food and nearly $10,000 have been donated to the shelter in the past couple of weeks.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Casey Foss prepares dinner for the 20 dogs housed at the Humane Society Waterville Area, on Webb Road in Waterville, Friday. Hundreds of bags of dog and cat food and nearly $10,000 have been donated to the shelter in the past couple of weeks.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Shelter officials are thrilled and very appreciative of the support, Executive Director Andrea Pasco said.

"It was amazing," she said. "I've never seen so many people in this building on one day. They dropped donations off but then they came in and looked around."

People also adopted six dogs, 14 cats, two rats and two guinea pigs after the Morning Sentinel published a story Nov. 21, the day after the dog food shortage was announced, Pasco said.

"We got financial donations and we got so much dog food," she said. "I can't even really verbalize what it was like. From the moment we got here Wednesday morning (Nov. 21), right through the holiday weekend, we had an increase in our adoptions because of all the traffic -- just a huge show of support from the community."

Pasco emphasized that when the shelter runs out of dog food, that doesn't mean the dogs will have nothing to eat.

"The bottom line is, our animals are not going to go hungry," she said. "If we are completely out of food and no one donates, we will buy food."

The dog food problem was prompted by an increase in the number of dogs coming into the shelter the last couple of months, according to Pasco. Many of the dogs were brought in by people who lost their homes and had to move into apartments that did not allow dogs, she said. Other dogs were simply abandoned and eventually were taken to the shelter as strays, she said.

The recent donations also included cat food, blankets, treats and other pet-related items, Pasco said.

"Some donations were $5, some $10; some were $500," Pasco said. "We got a couple of $1,000 donations. The outpouring was phenomenal."

She said one thing that people may not realize is that the donations gave the shelter staff and volunteers a real morale boost.

"Sometimes it's an isolating field of work and you end up seeing a lot of bad, and to see that absolute massive turnout was so heartwarming and so reaffirming of what we do here every day," she said. "I think it had a twofold impact. It's hard to see the state that so many of our animals come in at, and to see them living in kennels. Every animal deserves a loving home."

The shelter has enough dog food to last until spring; but if people still want to donate, they may bring in canned dog and cat food, dry cat food and cat litter, she said.

The plea for help resonated in other ways. Pasco said the shelter had a volunteer training session recently and more people than expected showed up. Also, former shelter volunteers returned when they learned there was a need.

She said the shelter still has plenty of dogs and cats available for adoption, and she urged people to make sure their pets are spayed and neutered.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com

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