Midcoast Humane celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 5 Industrial Pkwy in Brunswick on Saturday.
State Senator Mattie Daughtry and Midcoast Humane Board Chairman Bill Muldoon were among the speakers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, before guests toured the new building to meet and play with the dozens of dogs and cats currently available for adoption.
“I’m proud to be here as someone whose life literally wouldn’t be the same without this shelter,” said Daughtry, who added that she has adopted several pets from the Brunswick organization. “I can’t wait to see what the next 70 years will bring to Midcoast Humane.”
Midcoast Humane completed the purchase of the Industrial Parkway shelter just days before most public spaces closed in March 2020, according to executive director Jess Townsend. After pandemic-related delays, the organization finally moved its animals to the new space last month, an upgrade Townsend said was long overdue.
“The whole project was driven by necessity, not choice,” she said. “Our building in Range Road was no longer suitable in any way, shape or form.”
Built in 1950, Midcoast Humane’s the previous shelter had failed plumbing, electrical and drainage systemssaid Townsend.
“We were fighting against the environment,” acknowledged behavioral and training specialist Ben Bricker. “Here, everything is fluid; everything is correctly configured. It’s so much better.
The Midcoast Humane team designed the new building with the latest research in animal behavior and care in mind, Bricker said. Instead of shiny white walls that can fluoresce in an animal’s vision, the shelter features a “fearless” color scheme of purple, light blue, and taupe. While a dog’s bark echoed through the entire floor, upsetting all of the dog’s neighbours, built-in sound baffling now helps keep things calm and quiet, while a speaker and camera system allows staff to monitor animals from a distance and soothe them with music. .
New amenities will allow the shelter’s clinical staff to expand their services, according to Dr. Menolly Côté, the organization’s medical director.
Previously, the Midcoast team neutered and neutered animals in a mobile surgical unit — essentially a converted RV with two surgical bays, according to Cote. The new shelter, which is equipped with a digital X-ray machine and dental facilities, will allow the Cote team to perform procedures they used to outsource to other hospitals, such as exploratory bladder and abdominal surgeries.
“One thing I really like about our organization is that we’re able to support people where they are,” Cote said. “We are able to provide this even better with our new facility.”
Midcoast can now house 30% more cats than before, a significant improvement at a time when adoptions are slowing and the number of unprotected felines is on the rise, according to Townsend.
“We have quite a season of kittens this year,” she said. “We’re not used to seeing so many kittens locally, and we started seeing them much earlier than usual. We had newborns in February which is unusual.
The surplus of local cats has allowed Midcoast Humane and other shelters in Maine to take in fewer animals from other states, Townsend said. Before the pandemic, out-of-state shelters transported about 10,000 out-of-state cats and dogs to Maine each year, according to data from Maine’s Animal Welfare Program.
While the summer months often bring adoption slowdowns, according to assistant state veterinarian Rachael Fiske, the current lull may also be a response to a renewed interest for pet owners in the first months of the pandemic.
“Have we saturated the market? she asked. “I am not sure.”
In addition to donating to shelters like Midcoast Humane, animal lovers can help by staying on top of their pets’ care and scheduling appointments months in advance, Fiske said.
“If you’re adopting or buying a pet, whatever the case, it needs to be planned out,” she said. “Most people who are planning to have a baby will choose a pediatrician and probably make a phone call ahead of time. I think we need to change to change that mindset about our family members as well. pets.