Pope Memorial Humane Society celebrates its future with new shelter groundbreaking

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 9:30am

Story Location:
Buttermilk Lane
Thomaston, ME
United States

    THOMASTON — The shelter dogs were outside enjoying the sunshine in their kennels May 16 while nearby, the Pope Memorial Humane Society held its official groundbreaking ceremony for its new 10,000-square-foot facility on Buttermilk Lane in Thomaston.

    More than 40 supporters, staff and volunteers attended the annual meeting and groundbreaking ceremony, including Lyman Pope, the shelter’s namesake, and his service dog, Max.

    Pope, a lifelong animal lover, has been donating to animal shelters across New England for more than a decade. In 2000, he established the Lyman Pope Jr. Foundation and dedicated it to helping animal shelters in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. Recently, Pope made a gift of $1 million in support of the shelter’s $2.2 million capital campaign to build its new facility.

    Tracy Sala, who has been executive director since 2006, said during the annual meeting, “We are very fortunate to have tremendous support from the community with over 500 individuals or businesses contributing to the Capital Campaign, including the significant gift of Mr. Pope, who is our guardian angel.”

    Pope in turn praised Sala who he said “has raised a substantial amount of funds for the campaign during the past three years, which is an outstanding achievement in Midcoast Maine.”

    The current shelter was built in 1991, and the expanding population over the years has taken its toll on the building, which is now beyond repair, according to Sala and Pope.

    Sala emphasized in her comments that the dedicated assistance the shelter receives from volunteers is extremely valuable and “we are truly grateful for the support of the community.”

    Each year, volunteers donate more than 11,000 hours to assist with all aspects of running the shelter, including cleaning, care of the animals, organizing special events, walking dogs, foster care, newsletter mailings and fundraising.

    The new facility will include 29 dog kennels and space for more than 100 cats. Some of the special features of the new facility will be a covered pavilion where dogs can be outside during various weather conditions and “get acquainted rooms,” where potential adopters can get to know shelter animals in a private setting. Additionally, state-of-the-art acoustical and air exchange systems will provide a much better environment for the animals and their caregivers.

    Sala added with a chuckle that, “The cats will no longer be housed next to barking dogs and guinea pigs and birds will no longer share quarters with watchful cats.”

    The kennels will also be larger so dogs will be more comfortable and able to move around more freely.

    Construction of the new facility is expected to begin in mid-June. The new facility was designed by MSA Architects of Topsham and Maine Coast Construction is the builder.

    The facility was founded in 1989 and currently serves 17 towns and the islands of Vinalhaven, North Haven and Matinicus. Last year the shelter admitted close to 1,300 animals and was able to reunite 80 percent of stray dogs and 20 percent of stray cats with their owners.


    Sarah Shepherd can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com.