Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Harvest Hills Animal Shelter

Providing a Safe Refuge for Neglected, Stray and Abandoned Dogs
By Susan Spisak | Dec 28, 2018
Photo by: Jill Piper, Furry Kids Pet Photography Echo - See her profile in adoption section

“I think there’s lots of things that make us different,” said Joan McBurnie, Executive Director and Manager for Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg. And she wasn’t referring to the fact that they’ve been around since 1992 and have rehomed 17,000 animals, or that they’re contracted with 19 communities in western Maine to take in their stray dogs and cats.


Joan said their Nine Lives Thrift Shop next to the shelter is one of the creative differences that supports the nonprofit year round. Stocked with donated merchandise that’s dropped off by locals daily, there are home goods, current magazines and books, jewelry, games, toys, and much more. There’s even an area for vintage and antique items called the “Cat’s Meow.” (Refer to their website for items they can use.) “It’s a pretty amazing thing that we have over there,” she said, adding that the camaraderie of the shops’ volunteers is outstanding.


The shelter also has a living room. It allows potential adopters to meet pets in a comfy, relaxed atmosphere--and they’re able to see how the potential pet will behave in its home. (Do they stay off the furniture?) The living room also is a spot where volunteers can sit quietly and socialize with animals in their care. She said the living room has greatly aided in their adoption process.


Harvest Hills also boasts “huge” runs to insure their dogs get plenty of exercise. Another recreational bonus is their walking trails--staff and volunteers can hike with the dogs. This added exercise reduces stress that can be prevalent in shelter animals. Joan also noted that readers may be impressed with their feline facilities--they have cat condos, not cages. “They’re pretty phenomenal and they have hammocks, too.”


As far as owner relinquishments, Harvest Hills accepts animals from the western Maine region and nearby New Hampshire. They do not import dogs from southern rescues--local dogs are their emphasis (That said, if a local resident rescues a southern imported dog and it doesn’t work out, Harvest Hills will accept the animal.)


Joan mentioned two dogs in particular that she wanted to share in the hopes of finding their forever homes. “Super sweet” Brooke has had a tough life and needs to be the only pet in a no-child home. Once she gets comfy with her “person,” she’ll be a “Velcro” gal. “She’s going to become someone’s best companion animal,” emphasized Joan. Consider stopping by the shelter routinely and visiting her so she becomes acclimated to you—with time, you may have a new 3-year-old bestie.


Echo is a great dog, but she needs to be the only pet in the home. Her problem is she’s 11, but she has the energy level of a 4-year-old. Both Brooke and Echo do not “show” well when potential adopters stop by. They’re easily disrupted by noises (which are constant in a shelter), so they get little rest. “They’re grumpy children,” Joan laughed jokingly, but knows with the right adopter and routine rest, they’ll be loving pets.


For information on Harvest Hills Animal Shelter, including available animals, adoption rates and hours, visit Or stop by the shelter at 1389 Bridgton Road, Fryeburg.