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Maine animal shelters in high demand as many deal with overcrowding

"We can't get them out of the door fast enough before we get calls for 2, 4, 6 more to come in," Houlton Humane Society shelter manager said.

MAINE, USA — Animal shelters across Maine are facing high demand as many are at capacity.

The Bangor and Houlton Humane Societies, both full, have waitlists for people requesting to surrender their animals.

"It started with the pandemic, with the beginning of COVID, and has just never sort of cooled off," Kathryn Ravenscraft, Bangor Humane Society's director of development and communications, said.

Ravenscraft said the shelter has taken in many surrenders due to owners' life-changes post-pandemic. However, the real problem lies in lack of access to veterinary care.

"They are drowning in their own practices right now, so it's harder for us to get a vet to come in here to do all the spay and neuters that have to happen before we can send pets out," Ravenscraft said.

The Houlton Humane Society is at max capacity, too, while people are still calling to surrender their pets. Other shelters in Maine that usually help Houlton with overflow are full as well.

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"When they're full and we're full, we're at a loss of what to do and how to help our community," Catherine Virgie, Houlton Humane Society's shelter manager, said.

Virgie said the shelter has 40 animals, nearly 40 on the waitlist, plus animals that are currently being fostered by Houlton Humane Society Board members as the shelter faces overcrowding.

"We can't get them out of the door fast enough before we get calls for 2, 4, 6 more to come in," Virgie said.

From what she's seen, Virgie said the number of surrenders are due in part to post-pandemic life changes, people moving and unable to take an animal, or family members not knowing what to do with a lost loved one's pets. 

In Bangor, the issue is not the lack of people wanting to adopt, according to Ravenscraft. She estimates about one hundred people per week want to adopt, but the back-up at vet offices limits the number of pets available for adoption.

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"I think that the biggest issue is really just the amount of care and intervention that's required on a day-to-day basis before an animal is ready to go," Ravenscraft said.

If you want to help, Ravenscraft said donations and volunteers are always welcome.

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