Media Archive

Penquis shelter has a home

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 48, November 26, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

MILO Kittens, 15 of them, have invaded the upstairs bedroom.

Soft and cuddly, of varied colors and sizes, they perch mi the windowsills and peek out at the cold,

"That's all the neighbors will see - cats peeking out the windows," says Val Robertson, animal control officer for Milo and a founder of P.A.W.S. (Penquis Animal Welfare Sanctuary), which recently found a home at 39 Clinton St.

The town is leasing the building for a year - for free - from owner Tom Preble.

Robertson said she has heard concerns among neighbors that dogs will bark all night at the shelter or be tied out for long periods of time. And she wants to dispell any concerns.

"The dogs will come home with me during the night," Robertson says, adding the shelter now has only two dogs. "Anytime they go outside [at the shelter], they will be walked. I wouldn't let them sit out all day and bark."

In addition, anybody interested in adopting a cat or dog must make an appointment to stop by, so there should not be much traffic generated at the former residence, she said.

The animal sanctuary is Robertson's dream come true. While cuddling a kitten named Cutiepie, trying to soothe away any fears of humans, she explains how the shelter will run. For now, it is staffed by three volunteers &Mac247; herself, her daughter Katie Robertson and Julie Gallagher. Several times a day, a volunteer will stop by the shelter and spend time with the animals that inhabit the building, caring for them and trying to acclimate them to the human touch.

The building has only been accessible to the shelter for a few weeks, so there is much to be done, including the installation of pens for dogs. A bedroom upstairs has been turned into the cat room, and each furry feline has full access to roam - but nowhere to hide, which is essential to creating people-friendly animals, Robertson said.

A letter Robertson sent to area homes about a month ago has brought in about $1,200 in donations, which will assist in the purchase of pet food and other necessities, as well as pay for electricity and heating costs.

According to Milo Town Manager Jane Jones, the town is acting as the fiscal agent for the group, and the building does fall under the town's liability insurance, but no town money is going to be used toward operational expenses. This status enables the group to apply for and accept federal and state grants to aid in the operation of the shelter.

"This will give P.A.W.S. a chance to see if they can raise the funds needed for capital expenditures and day-to-day expenditures," said Jones.

Currently only a handful of volunteers are allowed in the building, specifically volunteer and town employees already covered under the town's liability insurance, Jones said. Later, that will be evaluated, she said, because "we are envisioning a much larger volunteer workforce" to keep the shelter running.

Robertson has taken a leave of absence from her position as animal control officer in order to focus her efforts on the shelter's beginning.

According to Robertson, now that the group has a facility, it should be easier to locate grants to assist in expenditures.

And, now that the animals have a place of their own - Robertson can have her own bedroom back, at her own home.

Information : call Robertson at 943-2324.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.