CARIBOU, Maine — Each year, as skies across the state begin to darken and the weather gets colder, officials in animal shelters and pet rescues become even more worried.
While it is difficult to find a facility that isn’t full of abandoned animals at any time of the year, the onset of winter means that people who find stray cats and dogs are more likely to bring them to shelters to get them out of the elements.
Norma Milton, president of the Halfway Home Pet Rescue in Caribou, faces this reality every winter. That is why she and other employees at the facility are grateful for a close to $4,000 grant that is going to help them expand their services to help a larger pet population.
The rescue recently received a $3,956 grant from the Belvedere Animal Welfare Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to support its Community Pet Rescue Outreach Program.
As part of the program, Pet Rescue partners with individuals who are interested in keeping a stray cat temporarily in their home until a permanent placement can be found. Pet Rescue supplies the caregiver with a large crate, litter pan and scoop, blanket, food, litter dishes, toys and other items needed to care for the animal in their home, garage or basement until space can be found in the shelter.
In addition, the program pays for the cat to have an immediate vet visit in order to remove any parasites, vaccinate and spay or neuter the animal.
Pet Rescue first launched the program last year after the facility began seeing animals with frostbitten ears, tails and feet. After a successful first year, Pet Rescue officials decided to apply for funding to expand the project.
The money from the Maine Community Foundation will be used to purchase new equipment as well as the medical supplies needed to continue the program this winter.
“This grant will allow us to expand our resources to a larger audience,” said Milton. “With all county shelters overflowing at this time of year, that leaves many stray animals without food and shelter during the beginning of our extremely cold winter season.”
A statewide organization with offices in Ellsworth and Portland, the Maine Community Foundation partners with donors and nonprofits to strengthen Maine communities.