New space for animal welfare programs and classes

PAWS Animal Adoption Center closes on Camden First Aid Association building

Mon, 12/30/2013 - 1:15pm

    CAMDEN — In the offices of Camden National Bank this morning, Dec. 30, the PAWS Animal Adoption Center officially purchased the former Camden First Aid Association Building on John Street in Camden.

    Acquisition of the 8,244 square-foot building will allow the shelter to relocate from its current address on Camden Street in Rockport. The former CFAA building sits on four acres on John Street and is currently assessed by the town at $816,000.

    PAWS purchased the property for $550,000, and anticipates spending $300,000 refitting it for animal shelter and animal welfare education purposes. To do so, the nonprofit will conduct a $850,000 fundraising campaign, far less than than the initial $2.2 million campaign it announced last year. That’s when PAWS produced designs for expanding its current Camden Street site.

    But, when the CFAA building came on the market after the emergency medical services nonprofit closed, PAWS reconsidered its expansion plans and decided to pursue relocating to Camden and the John Street property.

    PAWS is a no-kill shelter that provides medical treatment to animals in its care and provides opportunities for community enrichment and engagement through education and volunteerism, according to its mission.

    “It has been clear for quite some time that we were going to need additional space in order to fully serve the needs of animals and families within our eight communities,” said Jean Freedman-White, President of PAWS Board of Trustees, in an announcement issued Dec. 30.  “We had plans for a $2.2 million campaign to expand the existing adoption center.”

    Constructed in 2000, the CFAA building has many features needed by the adoption center, such as separate air handling, in-floor drainage and a backup generator.

    The Camden Zoning Board of Appeals granted a special exception for the shelter to operate as a quasi-public facility at its Dec. 19 meeting. Now, the nonprofit must go before the Camden Planning Board for initial review. A move-in date has yet to be determined, and is contingent on code enforcement officer, and/or planning board, approval.

    Read related story: Camden approves first step in animal shelter’s move; planning board considers matter in January.

    “The really important and exciting part of this is the programming and community outreach this new space will allow us to offer,” said PAWs incoming board president Joe Ryan, of Hope. “There will be space upstairs for different classes and programs. The building is so well-suited for that type of programming.”

    A building committee headed by PAWs trustee and architect John Scholz will convene and work with architect Joe Rusillo, owner of the Camden-based company Maple Street Design, and who had crafted designs of the Camden Street rebuild.

    “The next few months will be spent planning the needed renovations and reaching out to the community to gather input and support for the new adoption center,” the release said. “We anticipate the need for an $850,000 capital campaign, which is well over $ 1million less than our original plans.”

    For the past 39 years PAWS has served the needs of homeless cats and dogs throughout Camden and Rockport.  Over time PAWS has expanded to serve the towns of Lincolnville, Belfast, Northport, Searsmont, Islesboro and Liberty in addition to Camden and Rockport.

    “The John Street building is the opportunity of a lifetime for PAWS,” said Ryan.  “On our first walk through of the building we knew that this was going to be our new home.” 

    The building will provide the space to serve significantly more cats and double the number of dogs than the existing facility, the shelter said.  It will also have separate area for incoming and sick animals that will help improve the overall well-being of animals at the center, the shelter said.  Space will be available for animal introductions, adoptions and classes. 

    “I am most excited about the opportunities this building provides for outreach and education,” said Amie Hutchison, Executive Director of PAWS. “We will be able to work with school groups, welcome more volunteers, and host trainings and seminars on everything from puppy training to cat health.”

     PAWs will continue to operate from its current location on Camden Street in Rockport until renovations to the new building are complete. 

    To get involved, visit PAWS at 146 Camden Street in Rockport or online at


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