Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills

Providing a Loving Environment for Homeless Animals
By Susan Spisak | Mar 01, 2020

Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills (RPC) in Maine’s Western Region is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, no-kill shelter and adoption center with an interesting backstory. It was operated informally for years by a small group of compassionate people who realized there were area animals in need and opened their homes, garages, and basements so these pets had a roof over their heads. They formally incorporated in 1997 with the mission, “To Improve Quality of Life and Promote the Responsible Way to Treat All Pets.”

In their first shelter in Norway, RPC focused on cats, but once they contracted with other towns to house their stray dogs, they realized they were outgrowing that space. They launched a fundraising campaign and thanks to community support, RPC was able to purchase a large commercial building in nearby South Paris and their new doors opened in 2014.

President Shirley Boyce said RPC repurposed part of the facility so there’s also room for dogs from southern US and Puerto Rican shelter partners. She said that offshore transports are often hindered by weather but added, “We do try to help them.” And when possible, RPC will provide temporary housing for the pets of area abuse victims and the homeless during their transitional period.

RPC added a small pavilion for the transport dogs, so they can get outdoors even in inclement weather. “We added a ‘catio’ but this is Downeast Dog News, so that doesn’t matter,” Boyce said with a laugh. That said, they do have cats and kittens available, and they have a Barn Buddy Feral Program.

They’ve repurposed an office to use as an exam room in the event they find a veterinarian who can provide on-site services. (If you know of a vet who may be willing, have the vet call Shirley at the shelter.) They also need general volunteers and occasional foster homes for dogs.

They’ve made improvements to their Pawsibilities & Fabulous Finds Thrift Shoppe at 124 Waterford Road in Norway. The store offers new and gently used items such as furniture, toys, and custom-made gift baskets -- and the inventory is always fresh and creatively displayed. “A lot of people are looking for a bargain and want to help animals,” Boyce explained. “You never really know what you’re going to find.” Donations are welcome -- see their wish list as well as items not accepted at

RPC has private gravel paths and bridges behind the shelter that were designed and built by Eagle Scouts. It’s a great place for the dogs awaiting their forever homes to get outdoors and exercise with volunteer handlers. “The dogs love the walking path into the woods,” Boyce said.

Their website at contains information including the shelter hours, applications, adoption fees, the PayPal link for monetary donations, and all their adoptable pets. Watch their Facebook page for info on their upcoming Fun Dog Day and Ticket Auction.