Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: The Animal Orphanage

Caring for Greater Old Town and Orono’s Stray Animals
By Susan Spisak | Apr 01, 2019

Back in the day, a group of like-minded individuals got together to start this no-kill 501 (c) 3 shelter. The town’s powers-that-be agreed to turn over a small one room building to the newbies, and over the 29 years, animal-lovers have grown the facility in not only size but in its ability to serve and save more animals.

This non-profit is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors--ten individuals who give it everything. They’re assisted by a staff of three, and Animal Orphanage is lucky to partner with several area veterinarians.

Shelter Manager Erick Chambers said they average about 400 animals annually--from cats and dogs to bunnies and pocket pets. They used to see more dogs, but now primarily take in cats. “Fortunately, most of our dogs are boomerangs,” he chuckled. In other words, loose dogs that land in their care but are quickly reunited with their owners. He admitted to staying late more than a few nights so worried owners could pick up their lost dogs.

When a dog comes to their shelter--be it an abandoned or stray from one of their contracted towns, they scan for a microchip and worm and treat for fleas. The dog goes on a “hold” status for ten days. If he is not claimed after that time, they arrange for spay/neutering and shots and place him up for adoption.

They offer Barn Buddies--adoptable outdoor cats for $15. “They’re not necessarily cuddly,” Chambers explained. But they’ll like a barn’s shelter and keep critters away in exchange for a place to slumber. They ask that you provide year-round food, water, and that roof over their head. They have two available now that they’d like to place.

Chambers is proud of the fact that he’s repainted rooms, replaced washers, dryers, and sinks. To continue to remodel, update, and insure the facility is sanitized and routinely cleaned down to prevent respiratory infections, they need financial support.

They rely on fundraisers to keep them going. Because they have zero state or federal funding, they’re grateful for all donations, memberships, memorial gifts, trusts, and will donations. Speaking of funding, they are looking for volunteer grant writers to aid them in their endeavors. There is a need for fosters as “Kitten Season” is upon them. Volunteers for cleaning the facility would be a welcome addition.

The Animal Orphanage has a 5K Run & Walk Race on Sunday, April 28. It’s open to all ages and leashed dogs may participate--but if you bring your pet, you’ll run at the end of the pack. Admission is $15 per person or $30 for a family of 5. The race starts and ends at the Old Town-Orono YMCA at 472 Stillwater Avenue. Visit and click on the “Run” post to sign up.