Animal shelter full of pets waiting for new homes

Tue, 05/23/2023 - 7:30am

    Bailey, a 2-year-old mix terrier, is the newest arrival at the Midcoast Humane shelter in Edgecomb. He is a stray dog found by an animal control officer. Bailey joins 30 other dogs, 22 cats, four rabbits and two roosters waiting to find a new home. Bailey will be cleaned and neutered in preparation for adoption. Manager Tammy Walsh said it takes a couple weeks before a stray is ready for adoption.  

    She has worked at the shelter 13 years and before that was a volunteer. Walsh has loved and cared for pets like Bailey, and understands the job is full of joy and sadness. 

    “I really love my job. It so satisfying when you match a pet with a loving family, but it can be heart-wrenching,” she said. “People are often forced to make a hard decision. They bring in their pets for adoption and start telling you about their likes and dislikes. They get emotional and start crying, and you start crying, too.”

    Walsh is assisted by a small staff of part-time and full-time workers and volunteers. Staffing has been hard for the shelter especially during the pandemic years. This resulted in closing the shelter and requiring adopters to schedule an appointment. “We have all our animals’ profiles on our website. We ask families to submit an application. If it looks like a match, we invite them in for a visit,” Walsh said. 

    But matching a pet with a family is not always a simple task. Prospective families must answer a series of questions to determine whether the chosen pet is a match. “Some pets are harder to match. Some may have been abused and are leery of people. Some are overstimulated around young children, and others may not work well with other animals. So we have to take all of that into account,@ Walsh said. 

    A private visit is not the only way the shelter matches a pet and a loving family. For years, “Meet and Greets” held throughout Lincoln County have resulted in many happy unions. In the past six months, “Meet and Greets” occurred at Ames True Value Hardware in Wiscasset and Louis Doe Home Center, Central Lincoln County YMCA  and The Animal House, all in Damariscotta. “We usually bring 16 pets to an event and probably return with four,” Walsh said. “People really love these events. They arrive long before it starts, and the line is usually very long.”

    The Edgecomb shelter has its own mobile surgical unit, bought through fundraising, grants and donations. The unit is usually parked in Edgecomb, but it often accompanies a clinic team to public events. “A team from Brunswick comes and performs surgery and other veterinary actions. It’s equipped with an X-ray machine and we use it for providing rabies shots,” she said. 

    Walsh started as a volunteer brushing cats when Betsy Pratt was the manager. Pratt encouraged her to volunteer then work part-time a couple times per week. As manager, Walsh is responsible for handling the adoption paperwork. She also serves as the community resource manager which provides grants assisting low-income families in caring for their pets. 

    Technician Melinda Reed, like Walsh, started as a volunteer. She is now employed full-time assisting with caring and re-homing animals. Reed is also an animal lover. She cares for animals by day, and at night goes home to her own. She has a 24-year-old cockatiel and 25-year-old Congo African Gray. “The hardest part of the job is not bringing animals home with me, but I’ve taken a few stray dogs and cats over the years,” she said.

    The Edgecomb shelter began in 1987 in Wiscasset. Later, it moved to its current location at 27 Atlantic Ave on U.S. Route 1. In 2016, the Edgecomb shelter merged with Midcoast Humane in Brunswick. Walsh believes the merger was instrumental in keeping the local facility open. “We were really low on funds, and couldn’t sustain it on our own. So the two boards talked and merged,” she said. 

    This is good news for Bailey and his furry friends. This means pets like them have a place to stay for years to come until a new family is found.