Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Souly Maine Pets Rescue

By Susan Spisak | May 31, 2019

Janet Heard has been rescuing animals since 2003. She’s not only been involved with area rescues but initiated one that saved dogs from shelters in the south. “I was horrified. I had no idea,” she said referring to the overcrowded shelter issues in the South and their high kill practices. Her reaction was “Oh my gosh, what can I do to help?” She admitted that was a loaded question but jumped in anyway.

By 2016, she decided to change her focus. She started her own foster-based non-profit out of her home in Bath and named it Souly Maine Pets Rescue or SMPR. “I wanted to focus on Maine dogs. I realized Maine pets need help, too.” Area shelters call her to take smaller or special needs dogs that don’t do well in that environment, and she also takes in owner relinquishments. While the extensive administrative work rests on her shoulders, volunteers process applications, review vet checks and personal references, perform phone interviews, and visit homes to verify they’re suitable.

While she had every intention of maintaining her focus in Maine, Southerners knocked on her door. “Once people find out you’re a new rescue, you get bombarded.” Hence, a partnership with a southern gal resulted in Souly Maine Pets Rescue in Birmingham, Alabama. High kill shelter dogs were rescued, vetted, spayed/neutered, and fostered in Alabama. Southern fosters posted pictures on the affiliate’s Facebook page with plenty of information on their dogs--the goal being to match the rescued pet with the best adopter in Maine. Then they were transported to SMPR in Bath (following all state import guidelines).

Janet said her southern efforts are on hold again (but she’ll continue with SMPR). “I’m at that point now that I’m exhausted. I’m not a young person,” she laughed. In addition to the rescue, she has a full-time pet-sitting business and husband that fill her time as well. “It’s so easy to get burned out [with rescue work]. It’s overwhelming. It’s like trying to patch a sinking ship with a band-aid…I feel like I’ve saved thousands of animals, so I feel I’ve done good.”

That said, she isn’t completely turning her back on the South. She’s looking for an energetic person or persons to take over the Alabama side of the rescue (and perhaps rename it). She even posted a plea on her Facebook page. “The phone isn’t ringing off the wall,” she chuckled.

SMPR needs fosters as well as “back-up” (respite), temporary, and hospice homes. Janet said she currently needs a dedicated hospice home for special needs Lucy. She’s an adorable 8- to 9-year-old owner surrendered Border Terrier mix. Her adoption fee is a $100 donation, and SMPR will cover medical costs--including her arthritis, hyperthyroid, and anxiety meds (there’s hope she’ll be weaned off the latter). Lucy is not child-friendly but likes cats and dogs. (See Petfinder link below for info.)

Volunteers, donations, pet food, supplies, and blankets are welcomed. For more, visit or