Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: The Ark Animal Shelter

Compassionate Care & Placement of Homeless Pets
By Susan Spisak | Apr 01, 2021

Since 1984, The Ark Animal Shelter, aka The Ark, has been rehoming pets in need. The staff at this 501(c)3 nonprofit in Cherryfield is committed to animals in their care. They also strive to reduce animal overpopulation by offering low-cost spay/neuter programs to Washington and Hancock County residents and promoting responsible animal ownership through community education.

Shaina Mugford, Administrator for The Ark, said they adopt out an average of 220 dogs annually. (They also rehome cats and pocket pets.) Additionally, they have a soft spot for seniors – both human and canine/feline. Individuals 65 and up may adopt a vetted, spayed/neutered senior animal companion from The Ark with a donation (no adoption fee). This Golden Years Program has increased adoptions of older pets who still have plenty of love to give but are often overlooked.

Dogs that come to them are owner relinquishments, “We take local surrenders as often as we can,” she said, adding that strays come in as well and are always welcome. They extend their rescue efforts through ties outside the state. Their southern no-kill shelter partners are overburdened because they take in animals from high-kill facilities and harbor them safely. In fact, they were expecting a transport of pets from multiple southern partners when we spoke, “They need help so badly,” Mugford said.

The Ark hopes to partner with rescuers and pull animals from shelters in Louisiana, bringing them north for adoptions into loving homes. This new stateside effort won’t hamper their Puerto Rican efforts – they have a good relationship with All Sato Rescue, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the number of abandoned, homeless animals there. Dogs are typically flown into Portland (or Pennsylvania) where staffers pick up their new adoptables.

When asked if she had a favorite rescue story, Mugford’s response was immediate – Christian Dior, a small dog who came to them from Puerto Rico last year. “She’s quite the escape artist,” Mugford chuckled. The timid dog was let out for a potty break and scaled a high fence in late November. Christian was missing for two months, but thanks to a “huge community effort,” they were able to track her and humanely trap her. She was returned to the warmth of The Ark – and despite being in wintry weather for two months, she’s relatively healthy, albeit thinner.

The Ark appreciates monetary donations. As far as tangibles, they always need bleach, laundry detergent, dish soap, large gloves, toilet paper, and paper towels. The Ark Thrift Shop in Blue Hill will reopen in the Spring, and they’re grateful for higher-end items such as antiques, and new or gently used goods including dishes, pottery, linens, art, crafts and craft supplies, small kitchen appliances, sports and garden items (see website for more). The Ark has bi-annual online auctions and accepts items year-round, so they can build creative, coveted gift baskets – think interesting themed-products, Maine-made jewelry, animal-related items, and local gift cards.

Adoptions are by appointment only. For more,