Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County

Caring for & Finding Homeless Animals Loving Owners
By Susan Spisak | Jun 02, 2020

Since 1989, Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County (PMHSKC) has been devoted to caring for and placing unwanted and abandoned animals in loving homes. They promote responsible pet ownership, the human-animal bond, and the humane treatment of all animals.

The initiators of this non-profit had the foresight to purchase seven acres on Buttermilk Lane in Thomaston for their original shelter’s site. When they outgrew that facility, they held a capital campaign and thanks to community support and large donations, they were able to build and open a debt-free10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility on the same acreage in 2016. They included an outdoor covered pavilion and indoor meet-and-greet and community rooms. These areas have served them well, especially of late.

“We had a run on adoptions at the beginning [of the pandemic shut down],” said Tracy Sala, Executive Director of PMHSKC. “In Maine and across the country, people realized, what a great opportunity to get a dog.’” They had the time in their day to bond with the pet, train, and exercise him.

Those adoptions were handled by appointment only and will remain the norm until the facility opens to the public. “We’re still trying to do everything we did before, just doing it apart.” Applications are completed online; once it’s approved an appointment time is scheduled. A masked staff member meets the potential adopter for the distanced meet and greet with a dog matching the adopter’s needs in one of their large indoor or outdoor areas.

They do have some dogs still available. “The dogs we have now have more specific needs, are older or special needs,” Tracy explained. They receive stray intakes from their almost 20 contracted area towns – so more adoptables may trickle in.

They’ll continue to offer the “Slumber Party” during the restricted time. “That still works,” Tracy said. It’s a foster-to-adopt scenario where an interested adopter, after signing necessary paperwork, leaves a deposit and takes the dog home to see if they click.

The community has stepped up to assist them. Judy Sala, Tracy’s mom and avid quilter, donated masks in fun animal prints for the staff. Warner Vaughan, the shelter’s handyman and onetime board member and co-chair with Tracy on their capital building campaign, built two stunning wood benches that reside outside the community room and covered pavilion, so potential adopters can sit.

Tracy mentioned that they passively began a food pantry two years back. “We realized it’s something that’s been needed.” Since early March, they’ve given out 1,800 pounds of food and litter. It’s really wonderful. Donors donate.” She indicated it’s a plus for them to keep it going and are happy to have the community behind the program. “We don’t want their animals [because they can’t feed them]. They have perfectly good homes. If this helps, it’s a win-win.”

All dogs in their care are examined, vetted, spayed or neutered, receive preventatives, and are treated to a mini-groom. To view all their adoptable dogs, cats and kittens (it’s that season), visit For more info, check the website or call the shelter at 207-594-2200.