Cramped Rockport animal shelter needs $1 million for expansion

Regal Molly sits atop a cat tower at the Pets Are Worth Saving shelter in Rockport on Tuesday.
Heather Steeves | BDN
Regal Molly sits atop a cat tower at the Pets Are Worth Saving shelter in Rockport on Tuesday. Buy Photo
By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff
Posted July 04, 2012, at 11:56 a.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — The animal shelter here has plans to double its size so it can accept more animals. Now it just needs a million bucks.

The Pets Are Worth Saving shelter, formerly the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League, recently bought 2.5 acres next to its spot on Camden Street where it intends to build a 4,000-square-foot building. The current shelter, a 3,000-square-foot facility built in 2000, would be refurbished or torn down and rebuilt, depending on which is cheaper.

The shelter recently launched a campaign to raise $1 million for the expansion, which would include a public dog park.

Sometimes the Rockport shelter turns people away who try to bring in pets they can’t care for or stray animals they find because rooms are too full.

“We’re over capacity now,” said Lisa Dresser, administrative director for the shelter.

The shelter now has about 70 cats in six rooms. Some cats are being stored in a now-full trailer in the parking lot.

The six rooms for cats are packed. Because of the cramped quarters, workers only can clean before the shelter opens. The expansion would allow enough space to move cats to an alternate room while workers clean the cat rooms.

Plans for the new space include 16 dog kennels, a dog socialization room, an isolation area, a laundry room and a laboratory. There also would be administrative offices, bathrooms, a lobby, a staff room and a kitchen. Outside, there would be a public dog park open from sunrise to sunset daily.

The lack of space causes many inconveniences in the no-kill shelter, Dresser said.

“Our freezer has bagels and lab stuff for cats. Everything goes in together,” she said.

The entryway is also the only place workers and volunteers can eat lunch in the building. A 10-by-10 room with two computers is the “administrative wing,” Dresser joked.

Aside from inconvenience, the lack of space also exasperated bouts the shelter had with the highly contagious ringworm and forced it to shut down twice in the past two years.

Being over capacity can be inhumane, Dresser said.

“When we get so many animals in a room — it’s like toddlers. If you put too many in a room they get grumpy and it’s a health issue,” she said.

While already at capacity, the shelter recently contracted with Belfast to take in its stray animals because the city has no shelter.

“Belfast is bigger than Camden and Rockport together,” Dresser said. “We’re now obligated to have space for them and we want it to be humane and have clean space for them.”

Pets Are Worth Saving now takes in animals from Camden, Rockport, Belfast, Islesboro, Lincolnville, Northport, Searsmont and Liberty.

The shelter hopes the new facility can be built a year from now.

For information visit pawsadoption.org.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/04/news/midcoast/cramped-rockport-animal-shelter-needs-1-million-for-expansion/ printed on August 20, 2014