Two incidents highlight cost of caring for pets, unwanted animals

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 5:45pm

PAWS Animal Adoption Center, in Camden, was left holding the bag on a bill for a dozen cats abandoned at PAWS by a lone couple on four separate occasions over the span of 30 days. 

The couple left the first cat in the shelter’s lobby July 8, along with a form with the couples’ names and a Belfast address. While PAWS is only open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, it is possible to leave animals in their reception area during the overnight hours. 

The next time the couple visited was July 14, when they left six cats in the lobby, along with another form. Four cats were left by the couple Aug. 4, with one additional cat left on Aug. 8.

Belfast Police Sergeant Detective Matthew Cook said that with the address given and Belfast’s contract with PAWS, the City was initially expected to pay the $50 cost per animal surrendered. 

If the animal is a stray, bringing them to the shelter is free; however, surrendering pets is $50 to go toward their care. 

After additional investigation, Belfast Police discovered the couple actually live in Searsport, where they and the cats had resided for over a year. The cats had not lived in Belfast in roughly 16 months according to Cook, who said the couple thought the cats would still be considered to be from Belfast despite moving. 

The couple said the cats belonged to a woman who had parked a camper on their property with their permission. The woman reportedly brought the cats with her and stayed on the property for roughly a year, though it is unclear when she moved or why she didn’t take her pets along. 

Sergeant Cook said that since the cats were not actually from Belfast, the city’s contract with PAWS doesn’t include them, and therefore they will not pay for their surrender. 

If PAWS chooses, they can pursue the couple for surrendering the animals without payment, but that such a case would be handled by Camden Police since that is where they were surrendered. 

One organization familiar with the costs of taking care of pets was recently hit by a loss of their own when one of their plexiglass donation boxes was stolen from one of their most profitable locations. 

The Belfast Pet Food Pantry works to help pet owners struggling with caring for their pets, had the donation box stolen from a Waldo Ave convenience store Aug. 2, though the theft wasn’t discovered until Aug. 7, when it was reported to police. 

While the financial loss was around $30, with the box costing roughly $25 and an additional $6 within, the theft could cost the pet food pantry considerably more going forward. The business where the box was stolen from has reportedly said they do not want to host a replacement donation box. 

In video footage of the theft, a man was seen scratching lottery tickets, bumping the unsecured box before leaving the store for a short time. When he returned he waited until no one is looking and concealed the box by carrying it below the counter and exiting the store. 

The man was reportedly a regular customer at the store for years and was known to store staff. 

As a result of the incident, after which he discarded the damaged donation box in a dumpster, the man was issued a summons for theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

Erica Thoms can be reached at