Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center

“A Safe, Caring Haven”
By Susan Spisak | Mar 31, 2017

Founded in 1974 by a group of Midcoast animal lovers, P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center is a no-kill shelter that serves Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Belfast and six other nearby communities. In its earlier years it was known as Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League, but regardless of the name, their mission’s remained constant – to provide a safe, caring environment for homeless and abandoned dogs and cats. They also promote humane values, and provide community outreach and humane education programs.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with P.A.W.S. Executive Director, Shelly A. Butler. She said the organization moved to their new Camden facility in October 2015, where they can house up to a dozen dogs and 100 cats. They also rely on foster homes, especially for their pregnant or special needs animals. She added that dogs don’t stay with them long – they’re adopted quickly. And about 500 lucky animals are paired with adopters every year.

Their adoptables are strays from their contractual communities, owner relinquishments, or may even come from other state organizations. P.A.W.S. also imports dogs, following Maine guidelines, from two southern rescue partners that pull at-risk animals from high-kill shelters. By opening their shelter to these rescued dogs - and all animals they take in - P.A.W.S. is giving them an amazing opportunity – a good life in a loving, safe home.

All dogs are evaluated by a behaviorist and attend classes a few times a week with a P.A.W.S. training partner. Their animals are fully-vetted, spayed or neutered and have all medical treatments as needed. Butler added while it may seem insignificant, their pets receive a free lifetime microchip – an important safety feature if they’re lost.

There are unique community offerings at the facility. One such program is the P.A.W.S. Pet Loss Support group that meets the first Saturday of each month at 10 am. Then there’s Yoga with Cats (yes, you read that right – adoptable cats are added to the mix), on the third Wednesday of each month at 5:30 pm. Classes are free with a donation of canned cat food or non-clumping cat litter.

When asked how they raise monies for their private non-profit, Butler chuckled. “Any way possible.” She said funding comes from private donations, membership support and community contracts. Other fundraisers like their Auction for the Animals, already on their calendar for November, and the Spring Fling and Pet Parade in downtown Camden on May 20, supplement funds.

One fundraiser she’s particularly excited about is their Morecraft Presentation at the Camden Opera House on April 12th, featuring world-renowned motivational safety speaker, Charlie Morecraft. Butler said Morecraft and his wife have been long-time P.A.W.S. benefactors: “They are incredibly generous.”

Area residents can support P.A.W.S. by volunteering, fostering, attending a program or event, or just stopping by 123 John Street in Camden to visit with pets available for adoption. Their website adds this invitation, “The animals would love to see you and so would we.”

For adoption specifics and a full calendar of events and programs, including details on the Morecraft Presentation, birthday parties for the younger set, and their donation wish list, visit