Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: The Green Ark

Saving Dogs from High Kill Shelters
By Susan Spisak | Nov 01, 2019

Athena Carriere’s life changed with a Facebook crosspost. It outlined the imminent euthanization of a pregnant southern shelter dog. “I had no idea about rescue,” she admitted. “I couldn’t sleep that night.” She spent hours sending pleas for help to over 50 nonprofit animal organizations. The few responses that she received were polite but firm declines, with one exception. A Maine’s southern sister shelter agreed to rescue the momma, saving her life and pups.

That experience led Athena to explore rescue, and she began fostering. She failed with her first (and not last), a “very challenging” heartworm-positive female German Shepherd named Andy. “I had been circling the rescue world. [I thought] I’m going to start my own here in Maine. It’s been a wild world ever since.”

She initiated the foster-based 501(c) (3) Green Ark in February of 2013 with an eco-friendly edge. Since she pulls most of her dogs from Georgia – she works with two groups there – she subscribes to the “carpool” method, utilizing professional transporters to cut the carbon footprint. She and her group also promote the use of natural cleaners for washing crates and dogs and purchasing recycled products.

All their rescues are brought up-to-date on shots and are spayed or neutered. Then they’ll spend time on Athena’s 30-acre farm in Hollis for assessment. The reason? She believes their personality may be guarded in a shelter, but once they’re in a family-style setting receiving plenty of exercise, guidance, and love, they’ll likely blossom.

Over the years Athena and her dedicated crew have found new homes for upwards of 2,000 dogs. Lately they’ve slowed their intake. She’s a busy single mom to 3-year-old Dylan and 4-year-old Delphine, both major priorities. Once the children are a bit older and more self-reliant, the group, also comprised of other moms, will ramp up the intake beyond a handful at a time.

Eventually she plans to expand the nonprofit into an animal refuge – after all she already is a caretaker to a few rescued sheep. “I hope for it to be an Ark for all animals, multiple species.” She laughed an added, “Not exotic animals, but you get the picture.”

This one-time chef turned entrepreneur has chickens and ducks and sells their eggs, and she hosts a “Hipcamp” on her land, an Airbnb of sorts for tent buffs. She lends her talent to two Portland nonprofits, K9s on The Front Line and Service Dog Strong, finding and matching rescued dogs to vets with combat PTSD (the former) and individuals with traumatic, sexually- and/or rape-related PTSD (the latter) who would benefit from a service or emotional canine.

For Green Ark, their mission is simple: “Adopt a pet, Save a life.” To that end, senior dog adoption fees are reduced, and there’s also a discounted Senior for Senior program. Green Ark recognizes those who serve their local communities, so there’s a credit for police officers, military, firefighters, first responders, teachers, and coaches. For the adoption application, all rates and info, visit

They always need fosters as well as application and social media volunteers. Experienced or willing-to-learn grant writers are welcomed. Monetary and physical donations such as new and gently used crates, bowls, leashes, and kibble are appreciated. Message Athena at