Humane Society hosts annual dog walk

12 years ago

    HOULTON, Maine — Is Houlton going to the dogs? Animal lovers certainly hope so.
And if Saturday’s turnout for the Houlton Humane Society annual “Dog Walk” is any indication, there are plenty of loving homes for canines in the area. Following the walk, a barbecue picnic was held at Riverfront Park.
    “This is our first big fundraiser of the year,” explained Heather Miller, executive director for the shelter. “This walk gets people outside, and brings a lot of people and animals together that we have not seen throughout the winter.”
About 24 walkers participated in the walk, with 16 dogs registered for the walk.
“We actually have some new people that we haven’t seen before, which is really nice,” Miller said. “The nice weather certainly helps.”
Margaret Briggs, a resident of Lincoln who recently relocated to Houlton, was one of those new individuals. She was unable to bring her dogs to the walk, so she volunteered to walk one of the shelter’s newest dogs, a mixed breed named “Blitz.” Briggs said she had been looking for a walk to participate in since her move, and was delighted to hear of the shelter’s event.
Miller said it was a rough winter financially at the shelter, but things appear to be turning the corner.
“Fuel was kind of hard on us, but we just received a bequest from a person who passed away, which will help pay some of those bills,” Miller said. “We are also working on ways to get new board members and new fundraisers to keep things fresh.”
Animal numbers at the shelter are down slightly, which Miller sees as a positive sign.
“We are down on number of cats and our dogs have been adopting out very well,” she said. “Since January, we actually imported 19 dogs from the south and found homes for them here in The County.”
The shelter was established in the 1950s from an old barn at Burleigh Heights. At that time, there was no building for the animals, only a few kennels for dogs, while cats roamed freely. In the 1970s, Richard Lawlis and Sharon Clark began a campaign to raise funds for a shelter. With the help of Anson Tabor, a local contractor, a small ranch was built.
That building had no hot water or sinks at first, only a tub and some used cages donated by Loring Air Force Base. A mobile home, courtesy of Crawford Homes, was added to the site and two caretakers were given free rent for their work at the shelter.
In 1986, hot water was installed and further renovations were made for the animals as they transitioned from a “pound” to a “no kill” shelter. In 2007, the shelter opened the doors to its current facility.