ROCKPORT — Representatives from Thomaston’s Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County and P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center in Rockport converged on the former Rockport Elementary School field Sept. 24 to honor animals that live their entire lives in shelters. This year’s Remember Me Thursday candle vigil was the first time the two shelters have collaborated on an event.
As candle flames flickered in the breeze, P.A.W.S Executive Director Amie Hutchison told the story of a black cat commonly referred to as Secret. Along with names, all animals are given an identification number upon admission to the facility. Those I.D. numbers are preceded with a letter: K for kitten, D for dog, etc.
Having been 8 weeks old at the time, Secret’s I.D. starts with a K.
Secret was admitted in 2005. She has spent her entire 10 years of life, so far, at the shelter. This is not because of her personality, but because of a unfortunate bladder issue that leaves her urinating outside of a litter box.
When Secret eventually passes away, she will do so naturally, since P.A.W.S. only euthanizes animals that have severe and/or unresolvable physical or behavioral problems. The same is true for Pope Memorial, a fact not taken for granted by Pope Executive Director Tracy Sala.
Sala told Remember Me Thursday attendees of her previous work with the Denver Dumb Friends League about 15 years ago. According to Sala, the League takes in approximately 25,000 animals a year. Life at that shelter was far different than it is in Thomaston. A great day of adoptions in Denver might be followed by a double number of intakes. With such overwhelming circumstances, animals were regularly euthanized.
“Part of my job there was to euthanize the animals,” Sala said. “It was very difficult. It’s OK when you know that it’s an aggressive animal, or you’re putting it out of its misery because it’s sick and it’s suffering. But it’s very difficult to do it because it’s a Tuesday. But you do it. Because there’s nothing else you can do. Because you’re just inundated with animals.”
Sala said that Mainers have the “luxury” of not having to euthanize animals.
At this point, most Maine animals go home to loving humans, who then return to annual Remember Me Thursday events. Those humans hold a candle in honor and remembrance of those four-legged friends who love them so.
Pope Memorial was founded in 1989 and moved into its Buttermilk Lane building in 1991. The following towns contract with the Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County to take in stray animals and those found, with owners that might be looking for them: Rockland, Thomaston, Warren, Owls Head, St. George, Port Clyde, Martinsville & Tenants Harbor; So. Thomaston Spruce Head, Union, Appleton, Montville, Cushing, Matinicus, North Haven, and Vinalhaven, Stockton Springs, Morrill and Thorndike, according to the Humane Society of Knox County website.
P.A.W.S Animal Adoption Center (formerly the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League) was founded in 1974. The shelter currently contracts with the towns of Camden, Rockport, Hope, Lincolnville, Belfast, Northport, Searsmont, Liberty, Islesboro and Swanville.