Bangor Humane Society hopes to run out of pets at Match-A-Thon weekend

Posted March 27, 2012, at 6:16 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Humane Society Executive Director Suzan Bell has a simple goal for the society’s first ASPCA Mega Match-A-Thon Event this weekend.

“I would love to be able to call … Saturday and tell you we don’t have any more animals because they’ve all been adopted,” Bell said.

That would be a first in the society’s 164-year history.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been empty here in terms of animals. Well, except for just after they finished building the place,” Bell said.

Bell will be putting in some long hours this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, along with the society’s 19 other full- and part-time employees — and another 40-45 volunteers.

“Even our animal control officers are coming in to help,” said Stacey Coventry, public relations manager for the society. “We’ve never done an adoption event of this magnitude before. It’ll be organized chaos.”

Society workers hope it resembles an early morning Black Friday crowd waiting for Walmart’s doors to open.

The event, which is being funded primarily with a $10,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, features lowered adoption fees, a streamlined process for getting potential adoptees matched with pets more quickly, and expanded society hours of operation.

“We were one of 55 shelters nationwide to get a grant,” said Coventry. “Most of the money is going to vet care, even with the great discount we get from veterinarians. We were also able to spend money to market the shelter and this event.”

The pets will have all applicable inoculations and shots, will be spayed or neutered, and also will have microchips implanted between their shoulder blades for identification purposes.

The Bangor shelter, located at 693 Mount Hope Ave., will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The shelter isn’t bursting at the seams, but in order to get ready for the weekend event, it no longer accepted unwanted pets after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, the shelter had an estimated 30 puppies that had just arrived from a humane society in Shelby County, Ala. It also had 20 adult dogs, 30 cats, and a half-dozen kittens.

Bell said the puppies from Alabama are not subpar, diseased or “broken,” as might be the potential with puppies rescued from a puppy mill, for instance.

“This is only the second time we’ve ever imported any dogs because we’re typically very busy as it is,” she said. “This time we found ourselves with some space, no waiting list, and we had a chance to help.”

Liam Hughes, Maine’s director of animal welfare, says it’s not the long-standing adoption organizations people have to worry about.

“The groups working through the established shelters are the ones doing it right,” said Hughes. “It’s the fly-by-night people selling pets online who meet you at a bus station at night with a dog different than the one you ordered that you have to worry about.”

While the Bangor Humane Society’s adoption policies, rules and guidelines will not be changed this weekend, its procedure will be altered to expedite adoptions.

“It’ll just be organized differently,” said Coventry. “Instead of one person shepherding you through the process, this will be more fragmented in terms of moving people station to station, while also observing safeguards and precautions to match people up with pets.”

Adoption fees also will be altered: Fees for the puppies will be a bit higher at $230 apiece because of the transportation costs; any dog 6 months to a year old will be 50 percent off; adult dogs over 1 year old will be free; any cats 6 months or older will be free; and kittens will be $100 each.

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