FARMINGTON, Maine — Monetary donations from across the state and as far away as Texas, along with bags of dog food, bedding, bleach and toys continued to pour into the Franklin County Animal Shelter on Monday.
“The community response has been amazing,” Heidi Jordan, executive director, said. “Someone from Winslow just dropped off doughnuts and juice for the staff. It was very thoughtful.”
The local shelter started caring for 75 dogs, 18 small house birds and three chickens after animal welfare officials seized them March 14 from the home of Nancy Champagne of Wilton.
A shelter request for help from the public last week resulted in four days of donations, all needed. It takes 20-plus pounds of food per day to care for the 75 dogs and puppies, Jordan said.
“It’s really buoyed the staff,” she said of those working tirelessly to care for the small dogs and puppies, most of whom are malnourished, some suffering from ear infections, conjunctivitis, scabbing and chronic flea allergies, parasites and dental disease, according to court records.
Early on March 14, Jordan said they expected about a dozen dogs to arrive from Wilton. By midday, they were told there might be more. By 9 p.m., they finished counting and realized just how many dogs were actually brought in. The staff has worked overtime to tend to the animals.
Some breeds taken included dachshunds, pug types, Pomeranians, French bulldogs and Shih Tzus along with parakeet-type birds, love birds and canaries.
The good news is they are all improving, she said.
“Within the first 48 hours, the dogs started adjusting to the routine, regular meals and attention,” Jordan said. “Their spirits lifted. They started to act like dogs, barking and playing with each other. It’s nice to see.”
The staff is grooming like crazy and local veterinarian Dr. Cathy Morton of the Falls Road Veterinary Clinic in Farmington is helping the shelter deal with the dental work.
Outside donations amounting to over $2,000 through PayPal have come from as far away as Texas and Millinocket. Someone from Windham brought in a donation Monday. It’s amazing, she said.
The Wilton animals are being kept in nonpublic areas of the shelter. A court hearing on May 10 will determine whether the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, division of Animals and Plant Health, can take possession of the animals.
The shelter will continue to care for the dogs but none can be adopted.
There are some other dogs available and ready for adoption though.
Prior to last week, the shelter had mostly empty dog cages. Arrangements to bring dogs from North Carolina and California were made before the 75 dogs arrived.
The Wilton dogs arrived March 14, then seven dogs of mixed breeds arrived from North Carolina on March 17 and seven Chihuahuas arrived from California on March 19, Jordan said.
One of the 14 dogs was being adopted Monday, showing lots of love to its new owners as they completed paperwork in the lobby.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Jordan said.