DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A local animal control officer hopes to find a place within Piscataquis County to hold and board the increasing number of stray cats and dogs in order to reduce the cost to the towns he serves.
For his service as animal control officer for the Unorganized Territory and nearly every town in Piscataquis County except Greenville and Abbot, Joe Guyotte of Dover-Foxcroft typically receives $10 per call, $10 per hour and 40 cents per mile for travel.
A trip to the Bangor Humane Society represents about three hours of labor and about 100 miles depending upon where the animal was held temporarily, a cost borne by the town where the animal was found, he said.
“I’m trying to get a place in Piscataquis County to serve Piscataquis County at a cost that’s reasonable,” Guyotte said. “We’re still in the planning stages; you gotta creep before you crawl and we’re in the creeping stage right now to see if this is feasible,” he said this week.
Guyotte is finding that more people are abandoning their animals, likely because of the economy. A black Labrador puppy was dumped this week at a Guilford location and a litter of 4-week-old kittens recently was left at the Sangerville town garage.
For Guyotte, finding a place to hold stray dogs the required six days and stray cats for 48 hours is becoming more and more difficult. Most stray dogs are taken by Guyotte to the Pet Motel in Corinna at a cost to the towns of $10 per day. If the dogs are not claimed, Guyotte takes them to the Bangor Humane Society where he surrenders them as his pets for adoption.
Cats and kittens are taken either to Foxcroft Veterinary Service in Dover-Foxcroft or to members of local cat rescue organizations where they are kept until they are old enough for adoption.
Guyotte, who briefly discussed the matter with Piscataquis county commissioners earlier this month, is investigating the possibility of working with Foxcroft Veterinary Service on a holding and boarding facility.
The veterinary service in Dover-Foxcroft plans to relocate into a new facility constructed next door on Dec. 17. When that move is made, Guyotte hopes that some arrangement could be made with the business to use just the former clinic area as a holding and boarding facility. Two doctors live in an attached home next to the clinic.
Marianne Cox, office manager at Foxcroft Veterinary Service, confirmed this week that the matter has been discussed between the owners and Guyotte, but no decision has been made. “We’ve been approached, but there is nothing official,” she said.
Guyotte said he is checking his records to determine how many animals were taken from each town he serves. What he knows now is that most of the 100 stray cats and dogs he has collected from April 1 to Nov. 1 have been from Dover-Foxcroft, Sangerville, Guilford, Orneville and Milo, he said.
If all of the towns and the county combined were to contract with the Bangor Humane Society to handle all of the strays, it would cost about $1.35 per capita, or about $10,000 a year, according to Guyotte.
Rather than spend that money and have the expense of delivering the animals to the Bangor facility, it would make sense to pay that amount to a local facility, while reducing the labor and travel expenses, Guyotte said.
Suzan Bell, executive director of the Bangor Humane Society, a nonprofit organization, said her agency has never refused any animal Guyotte has taken to the facility. She recognized his plight, however. He has fewer places at which to hold the animals the required length of time before they can be placed up for adoption, she said.
“We’re seeing Joe more and more and more,” Bell said.
Bell said the society has contracts with more than 25 towns, but has no contract with Piscataquis County communities. If Guyotte surrenders a pet as the owner, the society can accept it, but if he surrenders the pet as a stray, the society cannot take the animal without a contract, she said.
“They’re getting tired of seeing me,” Guyotte said.