Downeast Dog News

A Special Friend to New England Shelters

By Susan Spisak | Oct 01, 2020
Photo by: Peter Ralston - Ralston Gallery Lyman Pope Jr. & Max

Every October since 1981, the American Humane has celebrated “Adopt-a-Dog Month®” to showcase the need for forever homes for the estimated three- to four-million animals in shelters. Shelters - as well as rescue groups - are making a difference in the lives of homeless pets and giving them hope for a second chance at a good life.

Shelters’ boards, staffers, and volunteers work tirelessly to fundraise, so they can not only properly vet, care for, and rehome their animals but pay their overhead costs. In addition to adoption fees which aid their cause, they rely on events, donations, planned giving, sponsorships of animals, and shelter friends and benefactors.

One such benefactor is generous animal lover Lyman Pope, Jr. He had been donating to shelters and in 2000 he made his efforts official - he founded the philanthropy, voluntarism, and grantmaking Lyman Pope, Jr. Foundation. This Jackson, New Hampshire nonagenarian has donated millions of dollars to many Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire shelters, so the quality and comfort of their animals’ lives are top notch during their stay.

Pope explained he’d traveled to countless tri-state shelters and many conditions were unacceptable. His drive was to change that and positively impact animals’ lives. “I love dogs and I care about them,” he said. He’s proud that he not only has donated to 25+ shelters, but that four are named for him.

He’d been a longtime benefactor to Humane Society of Knox County in Thomaston, Maine, including one million dollars to their capital campaign for their new 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility that opened its doors in 2016. The powers that be renamed the corporation Pope Memorial Humane Society (PMHS) and Pope has served as an advisor. He has high praise for them, “They have outstanding management.” He added that he’d been sifting through his PMHS papers recently and thanks to their staff and many programs and resources, their euthanization rates have been extremely low over the years.

The many positive features of PMHS, including an outdoor covered pavilion for routine playtime, create less stressed animals – their personalities can shine, facilitating quicker adoptions. Tracy Sala, Executive Director at PMHS, appreciates Pope’s backing. “For over twenty years, in so many different ways, Mr. Pope has been a tremendous friend to homeless animals and the shelters who care for them across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. At Pope Memorial Humane Society, we will forever be grateful for his kindness, support, and generosity in transforming our organization and our ability to save and care for homeless animals, benefiting our community for generations to come.”

Pope Memorial Humane Society in Dover, New Hampshire serves the Strafford County area and Southern Maine. Formerly Cocheco Valley Humane Society, it was renamed to thank Pope who donated one million dollars to their “Bring Us Home Campaign.” Their new 11,000 sq. ft. humane society opened in 2019 and was a huge boost for staff and animals – their former building was a one-time piggery.

Obie Barker, Executive Director for this humane society, said the new facility has been an important cog in achieving their goals. “It has increased the number of animals we can serve. It’s enabled us to do more training and social enhancement.” He added there’s more room for the dogs to get plenty of exercise and fresh air as well.

Concord-Merrimack SPCA of New Hampshire was impacted by Pope’s kindness as well. The 110-year-old organization is now named Pope Memorial SPCA of Concord-Merrimack County thanks to his pledge of over $500k to their capital building campaign - they opened their new 7,700 sq. ft. shelter doors in 2019. He also pledged a substantial future memorial donation. This SPCA is important to the area - they are the only full-service humane organization serving Merrimack County and the Claremont area and take in more than 1,600 animals a year.

Pope, a longtime ally of the 27-year-old Frontier Animal Shelter, Inc. in Orleans, Vermont, presented their organization with a financial endowment in 2011 to be used specifically for future capital expenses. To honor him, they changed their name to Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter, Inc.

A Western Maine nonprofit that’s benefited from Pope’s grants is Harvest Hills Animal Shelter. Among other necessities, their canines were treated to the new Lyman Pope, Jr. Dog Pavilion. And the Bangor Humane Society received funding from him as well - he’s been one of their largest foundational supporters.

Pope’s foundation is out of money – he chuckled and said, “I gave it all away.” But that’s not stopping him, he’s donating to shelters out of his own pocket. He’s a terrific example of simply giving what you can – every donation to a shelter or rescue is appreciated. You can also adopt, making room for one more pet in need. By adopting a shelter dog and supporting your local animal nonprofit, you’ll add value to that pet’s life – and yours as well.