Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Humane Society Waterville Area

A Safe Haven for Animals in Need
By Susan Spisak | Feb 01, 2020

Since 1970, Humane Society Waterville Area, aka HSWA, has had the mission of sheltering animals until they find permanent homes, to educate the community about responsible pet ownership, and to advocate for the humane treatment of all animals. They serve over 20 communities and care for owner surrenders and strays brought in by the general public or animal control officers.

Last spring, HSWA reached its shelter capital campaign of $250,000 to keep their doors open. Under the supervision of HSWA’s Executive Director Lisa Oakes and her staff, they expanded rescue efforts and programs, initiated and grew their volunteer program, collaborated with area nonprofits, and created a year-round fundraising schedule.

Lisa, who’s been at the helm for a little over a year, is thrilled with all their positive programs and efforts. She said they’ve ramped up their out-of-state rescue efforts due to a demand in the area for puppies and dogs – and to save more animals’ lives. “We don’t have a lot of local dogs coming in, which is a great problem to have,” she explained. So HSWA partnered with nonprofits such as Animal Rescue Front, Safe Haven Rescue and Wings of Rescue to pull pets from high-kill facilities in the south and beyond.

In 2019, HSWA took in over 500 animals. They can care for 25 dogs at a time, more if necessary, by doubling up smaller dogs with a kennel divider. And their foster program has been instrumental in allowing them to take in more animals, “It’s been a lifesaver.” Foster homes are utilized as quarantines for their out-of-state dogs or for those who will better thrive outside the shelter environment.

Lisa shared that she and Animal Care Manager Mallory Chandler trekked to the Portland International Jetport and waited on the tarmac for their recent intakes of 10 dogs through Wings of Rescue. Over 120 animals were flown in and several shelters were there coordinating efforts. “That was quite incredible,” she said and added, “It was a well-oiled machine.” The plane landed at 2:40 pm and humane vans filled with animals drove off with their assigned charges by 3:15.

Two HSWA staffers went to Virginia in January for professional training to expand their “Dog Daycare Trips.” Launched in 2019, this program allows approved short-term fosters to “check out” a dog from the shelter for an hour, afternoon, overnighter, or even a weekend. The goal is to further socialize dogs, give them a break, and introduce them to new people, places, and things. Participants must attend their orientation and fill out their application and other paperwork. Lisa indicated they’d appreciate more short-term fosters for the program. Check out more info and the application at

HSWA has “Little Rescue Readers” for children 4 through 12. By reading to their adoptables, kids earn free books and have fun being with the animals. Visit for info on this heartwarming program.

They continue to welcome donations to offset their costs and efforts including Monthly Giving, Sponsor a Cage, and Planned Giving. For volunteer openings, applications and hours, and all their adoptable dogs, visit HSWA is located at 100 Webb Road in Waterville.