Roth said that ARLGP already has a great network of foster families in the surrounding communities, including many in Windham. “When we see those young animals come through the shelter doors - kittens that need to be bottle fed, a pregnant mom or a mom and her litter – we immediately send them out to a foster home so they can get that enrichment and socialization in a home environment until they are ready to come back to the shelter and be adopted,” said Roth. While they have an established network, they are always looking for more foster families. Fostering offers people an opportunity to volunteer at home and experience the fun of raising kittens, said Roth.
Spring and summer also sees an increase of rabbits and other small animals, particularly after Easter or after the fair season, Roth said. The ARLGP has a humane education coordinator, and prior to adoption prospective adopters receive a lot of conversation-based adoption counseling, to be sure they are adopting for the right reasons, are invested in the animal, and have the tools and resources to give that animal a loving home, said Roth. Bunnies tend to linger at the shelter longer, she added, because not everyone is prepared to care for a rabbit. “We know they make great pets, especially for families,” she said. “And they’re a fun pet. Their personalities and temperaments are different than dogs and cats.”
The ARLGP is also committed to cultivating a community of responsible pet ownership. One of their goals is teaching young children to grow into responsible pet owners. It’s important to teach kids to care for animals with compassion, kindness and respect, even if they don’t live in a house with pets, said Roth. “These kids are going to be adults in our community who might own and adopt a pet.” The goal is to teach children that pets are a responsibility, not just a fun toy, Roth added.
On Sunday, April 12th pet owners will have the opportunity to bring their cats and dogs to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland’s (ARLGP)first Spring Wellness Clinic.
The clinic will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, and feature low-cost rabies vaccinations, microchipping and nail clipping for cats and dogs. Additionally, all services will include a general pet wellness screening with a veterinarian.
Jeana Roth, community relations manager for the ARLGP, said that in previous years there has been an annual rabies vaccination clinic in Westbrook that was very well attended. The ARLGP had participated in that event, offering the microchipping services. When that event didn’t happen this year, she said they thought they would try it out themselves.
“We know it’s a service that the community uses. That Westbrook clinic is usually popular with Westbrook and surrounding towns,” she said.
The ARLGP sees almost 4,000 animals a year come through their doors. Last year, approximately 200 of those animals came from Windham. Approximately 175 animals were adopted at the shelter by Windham families. “We know Windham is an animal centered community,” Roth said. “Our goal is to keep animals healthy and safe in their communities.”
Vaccinations can be expensive for pet owners, and this clinic offers the opportunity for pets to receive the vital protection vaccinations provide for a low cost – just $15. Microchipping, which is usually $35 is being offered at a reduced rate of $30 at the clinic. “We see stray animals come every day and we know microchipping is the number one way to reunite an animal with its owner,” said Roth, explaining why the service is important.
Nail clipping services at the clinic will be $5. All services are on a first-come, first-served basis. Dogs must be on a leash, and cats need to be in carriers. Roth said that the ARLGP staff is excited about the clinic. “We hope it’s a great turnout. If folks need the rabies vaccinations and microchips we can get you in and out and your pet will be happy and healthy. That’s the goal.”