Volunteer shortage suspends adoptions at local pet rescue

4 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Halfway Home Pet Rescue is temporarily halting its local adoption process due to a shortage of volunteer help.

Norma Milton, HHPR executive director, said on June 20 the center must close for local adoptions so volunteers, many of whom have served the rescue for more than 10 years, can tend to the resident felines and have a respite from their duties.

“The need for new volunteers to have vacation time through the months of July, August and September makes it impossible to have enough volunteers available to do the adoption center feeding, cleaning and loving time for the pets,” Milton said. “Because these tasks are a priority, the pet rescue will concentrate on sending more cats to the southern Maine rescues and shelters, and will not do local adoptions during the summer months.”

Halfway Home Pet Rescue volunteer Gail Langley enjoys a visit with Spunky, one of the rescue’s residents. (Norma Milton)

Milton explained the adoption process is time-consuming. The applicant completes the application online and returns it to the HHPR website. The adoption committee reviews the application, checks the references, and interviews the applicant. If the applicant is approved, a viewing appointment is set up. Sometimes it might take a prospective adopter two, three or even four visits to choose a pet to take home.  This takes volunteer time away from the daily direct cat care work of the center.

Volunteer Joel Violette of Woodland, left, and Halfway Home Pet Rescue Executive Director Norma Milton use nets to gently guide feral felines into carriers. As it has done in the past, the rescue will send cats to southern Maine for adoption, as a volunteer shortage has limited their ability to adopt locally during the summer months.
(Courtesy of Norma Milton)

“Changing our standard of daily care for our cats is not an option,” Milton said. “We have decided to create more transport options for the cats to go to southern Maine adoption centers because southern Maine centers have a larger public to choose from, have paid employees to supervise adoption requirements, and they often have few kittens or young adults because of their great success in community free or low-cost spay/neuter clinics.”

HHPR prefers to operate with a volunteer staff. Funds donated or raised go directly toward medical expenses for the cats and other rescue operational needs.

“If we had a payroll, we could not do everything we do for our cats. The HHPR mission is dedicated to homeless cats and helping low-income families with their pets (both dogs and cats) as much as possible,” Milton said.

The increase of cat transports to southern Maine shelters and pet rescues will start on June 23, with a second transport scheduled for July 8.

Milton strongly stressed the need for several more direct-care volunteers during these summer months.  

“Our current volunteers are intensely dedicated and some have been with HHPR for 10 or more years, but they need time with their families and to rest and relax for a bit,” Milton said.

Those wishing to help out for two- and three-hour shifts once weekly should call Milton at 999-1075, or visit the rescue’s website at halfwayhomepetrescue@org for an online volunteer application.