Pet Talk

12 years ago
By Cathy Davis

    I am not a morning person.  Anybody who knows me knows that you don’t come near me at 5:30 in the morning. I get up before anybody else in the house, I get ready for work, and I leave.  I am at work by 6:00 am.  Between 6 and 8 a.m. I slowly turn into a human being. I sometimes think that I must look like “Shrek” when I get up because that’s certainly how I act. I make no excuses, it’s my circadian rhythm, Mother Nature, it’s how I was made.

    So when Houlton Humane Society Executive Director Heather Miller told me she was getting up on Easter Sunday to meet a lady at the animal shelter at 4 a.m. to take in several dogs, I gave her that “don’t ask me to come with you” look and she just smiled.

 

    In the last year I’ve followed Heather with my heart, but have not joined her on her trips. She has driven to Waterville, Calais, Portland, Millinocket and has met people halfway when they drive up from Connecticut.  One night, my family was out to dinner in Smyrna and there were Jon and Heather, at night, in the dark, meeting someone to take a dog that was coming up from Connecticut.

    The Houlton Humane Society has a state license to assist with animals that have been displaced due to tragic circumstances, — hurricanes, tornados, floods, earthquakes — and in the past year we have placed 60 dogs that have come from Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama and Connecticut, as well as Maine shelters who have asked for help.

    Maine has a problem with cats. Maine is overrun with cats and has a huge feral population, so we usually don’t have room to help other shelters with cats. But Mainers love their dogs and we often have people waiting to adopt dogs, but no dogs in the shelter to adopt. So helping shelters in areas where they are overrun with dogs just makes sense.

    These animals are fully vetted, checked and vaccinated, spayed and neutered, and without shelters like Houlton Humane Society, many would be put to sleep for lack of space. My hat goes off to Heather for all the work she has done in assisting many shelters across the state and outside of the state and for all the pets she has saved.

    Heather also has her own rabbit rescue and cares for special needs rabbits. Bunnies who have lost a leg, bunnies who need special diets, bunnies who are on medication, bunnies who have been neglected or abused. 

    I don’t know how she does it. As executive director, she has a seven-day a week job. On top of that she is the animal control officer for several towns which means she gets called out night and day for strays, weekends, holidays, doesn’t matter.  If it’s Christmas day, and Heather gets a call to go to Amity because a stray pig is strolling down Route 1, she goes.

     Heather is in charge of the Shelter staff, administers all the Shelter programs, is present at every Shelter fundraiser. And then she goes home and tends to her own pets, all rescued from the Shelter, many with special needs.    In all Heather has 11 cats, 7 are special needs, three legged, blind or deaf. She has 14 rabbits, 9 are special needs, and 7 dogs, four of them are special needs.

    So she works all day, tends to her own animals morning and night, runs when called to do ACO work, runs and participates in fund raisers, runs the roads saving dogs from other shelters, and somewhere, she also has time to run a small part time business cutting hair!

    If ever there was a super woman, this lady gets my vote. I

am 20 years older than Heather, I could use that as an excuse, but when I was her age I didn’t have her energy or her passion.  

    So if you call the Shelter some day and Heather is a little down in the dumps because she tried so hard to save just one more and maybe it was so sick that it died in her arms in the night (yes, she takes them home and nurses them when needed), give her a big hug for all that she does. And there is more in store.  Several new programs in the planning stages to even further improve Shelter operations, help us place more animals, help us as a shelter be the best that we can be.

    If you could bottle passion and pass it out, Heather would be the source and I would be the first in line to buy a bottle.  On behalf of all the animals saved, on behalf of a grateful board of directors, hats off to a young lady who has done more to save animals than any 10 people I know and I’ve been doing this for 27 years so I know a lot of them.

    And by the way, I can’t close without a huge pat on the back to Jon Miller, Heather’s husband. We all know that we can’t do what we do without support at home.  Jon is right there with Heather on many of her trips, he makes things to raffle off to help support her rabbit rescue, he helps with their own animals and with many shelter fundraisers, including one that he single handedly thought up and organizes, Rockin’ the doghouse. We love you Jon and Heather, keep up the good work!

    Cathy Davis is a longtime volunteer for the Houlton Humane Society. She can be reached at houltonanimalshelter@gmail.com or 532-2345.