FORT KENT, Maine — In late December 2014, five dogs and several cats were left alone, abandoned without food or water for more than a week in a rental home littered with urine, feces, cigarettes and other trash, according to local police.
The animals were only found on Christmas Eve after a dog broke loose and an officer from the Fort Kent Police Department attempted to return the animal to its owner. Fort Kent Sgt. Dalen Boucher said at the time that the abandoned pets all showed signs of “severe neglect.”
By the end of January 2015, the five dogs — one cocker spaniel, a cocker spaniel/beagle mix, one Havanese and two Chihuahuas — had been adopted out to new owners by the Central Aroostook Humane Society in Presque Isle.
About a year later, all the dogs are doing well in their new homes, according to Betsy Hallett, executive director of CAHS.
Hallett said Thursday the facility spent about $3,000 treating the animals before they were adopted.
The cats were taken to PAWS Animal Welfare Society Inc. in Fort Kent. An official at PAWS said that all the cats also were adopted within a month.
Michelle Gardiner of Mars Hill adopted Coco, one of the Chihuahuas, who she immediately renamed Maggie. That dog had to have 33 of her teeth removed, leaving it with just six teeth with which to eat.
“I saw Maggie, and I knew I had to have her,” Gardiner said Thursday. “I have a special place in my heart for abused animals. When I brought her home, she was very skittish at first, but after about two months it was like she had always been here. Everyone just loves her.”
Gardiner said the dog has no ongoing health problems and, despite all the missing teeth, is slightly overweight.
Terrie Kennedy drove all the way from Bangor to adopt Lucky, a 14-year-old Chihuahua. The dog has a variety of health issues, including an enlarged heart, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and a thyroid condition. Lucky was initially aggressive about food, Kennedy said, but calmed down when he got used to her other dog, which is also nearly 14.
“People see him and they just love him,” she said. “They want to take him home with them.”
The landlord and owner of the property where the dogs were found, Wayne Vaughan, told the BDN last year he originally rented the apartment to three women, but he believed the boyfriends of the two younger women also stayed there often. He said he had no idea the tenants had left or that the house on South Perley Brook Road was so trashed until the police contacted him.
On Thursday evening, Fort Kent police Chief Tom Pelletier said no one has been charged in connection with the alleged abandonment or neglect of the animals. Pelletier said the owner of the dogs fled the state and has not returned since. He previously indicated he would not pursue extradition in the case because of the cost of that process. The BDN is not identifying the pet owner because the individual has not been charged with a crime.
Regardless, Hallett, the shelter director, said she is happy each of the dogs has found a better home.
Kennedy said she does not regret for one second her decision to adopt an older dog that has medical issues.
“He is a loving little dog,” she said Thursday. “He has a lot of pep in his step. He has to be carried up the stairs, but other than that, he’s a great pet. If I had to do it over again, I would walk into a shelter and adopt the oldest dog in there in a minute.”