Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Bangor Humane Society

Building for Tomorrow & Creating Bonds for Life
By Susan Spisak | Jul 01, 2019

“We decided that we needed to invest in the future of our organization and in the future of the pets in our community,” said Suzan Prendergast, Executive Director for the 501(c)(3) Bangor Humane Society (BHS) of their $1.75 million Capital Campaign. The goal is to not only expand and improve the facility’s layout but to better serve their animals and 200+ communities in north and eastern Maine.

They’re “pretty much gutting” half of the medical and adoption facility, specifically the front area. Post-reno, the animals will be visible when visitors walk in. “We want the bond to be immediate, so people will be engaged.” Dogs will be to the left of the entrance in modern, glassed-in kennels (for safety as well as a sound barrier), while cats will be to the right in new comfy climbing condos, also behind glass. The BHS board and staff want visitors to be wowed and think, “Oh, this is where I can come to get my new best friend.”

Currently, animal relinquishments are handled at an imposing front desk with all visitors witnessing the sad event. That’s changing--BHS will have private rooms where owners parting with their beloved pets can say goodbye privately. “It’s heartbreaking. We go through a huge amount of tissues. Let’s have a little bit of empathy for the humans,” Suzan said.

One change that brings Suzan to tears is the demolition of their retired incinerator and repurposing of that large area. The backstory to this is that in 1996 the current facility was built to house more than 10,000 pets annually. Between significant overpopulation and a low number of adopters, nearly half of the animals BHS housed annually were euthanized.

Through their innovative programs as well as a shift in society’s attitudes (think “Adopt Don’t Shop”), they experienced a strong upswing in adoptions. Suzan, Chris Young (Shelter Operations Manager), and Stacey Coventry (Director of Development & Public Relations) got together and decided they would do everything to further decrease the euthanization of animals (mainly cats) who had health issues such as upper respiratory infections. Kudos to them--the euthanasia rate that was once 51% annually now runs 4 to 5%, with only pets deemed ill/untreatable or very aggressive being humanely put down.

When the 9-month project begins in September, equipment will bring down the incinerator, and Suzan can’t wait to see its parts fly out windows. The room will be scoured and blessed by a reverend, and it will become the quarantine area for puppies coming from high-kill shelters in the south and other communities. “That room is going from the most horrible room in the building to probably the happiest room in the building. If I’ve done nothing else in my life, I got that right,” Suzan said.

BHS will be open during the renovation project and welcomes donations to the Capital Campaign--they’re about $500,000 shy of their goal but they’re moving forward regardless. “There’s no donation too small or too large,” said Suzan…and all will be greatly appreciated.

For details on donating to the campaign as well as info on all programs including fostering and adopting, visit or stop by at 693 Mount Hope Ave., Bangor 04401.