Windham Eagle Choice Awards

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fill a truck event for Harvest Hills Animal Shelter a huge success - By Elizabeth Richards


The recent “Fill a Truck” event at MacDonald Motors to benefit Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg met with great success. Taking over the dealership for an afternoon, the shelter was able to fill not one but two trucks with supplies donated by the public. 
 
MacDonald Motors is a big supporter of the shelter, said Joan McBurnie, executive director/manager of Harvest Hills. “They’ve always been wonderful,” she said. “They’re so kind and generous.” In addition to promotion and advertising for the event, the dealership donated $500 worth of wood pellets, which the shelter uses for cat litter.

According to McBurnie, the people in the area help the shelter a great deal. “Whenever we are in need of something we try to put it on our board out on 302 and the public is pretty awesome,” she said. “People are very generous. We’re very lucky in where we are. They look out for us.”

Harvest Hills Animal Shelter is contracted with 19 towns in Western Maine to accept stray and neglected cats and dogs, which they then adopt out to new homes. When space allows, the shelter also accepts surrendered animals. The shelter does not take animals from out of state, but will help other shelters in Maine that don’t have the capacity to adopt the animals out themselves. 

Harvest Hills Animal Shelter has been in operation for over 20 years. Each year, the shelter adopts out approximately 500 cats and 300 to 400 dogs. To adopt from Harvest Hills, an application is required, where references are checked and efforts are made to be sure the adopter is aware of what it takes to be a responsible pet owner. 
 
Animals are spayed/neutered before they leave the shelter, shots are up to date, cats have been tested for feline leukemia/FIV and dogs have been tested for heartworm. The shelter requires that all other animals in the home are also up to date on shots. “I think that’s why we get a good reputation with the veterinarians, because we do require those things rather than just saying you have money and you want an animal, you can have one,” said McBurnie. 

McBurnie said that pet ownership can be very expensive, and owning a dog or cat is almost a luxury. To be a responsible pet owner, she said, preventative health care is very important, as is spaying/neutering. Once a month, the shelter runs a low-income spay/neuter clinic, trying to encourage population control.
Harvest Hills Animal Shelter only euthanizes cats that have tested positive for leukemia/FIV, and only after trying to place them in a home that already has a cat with leukemia or FIV by calling local veterinarians and asking for recommendations. Because a positive test means the cat is sick, they cannot adopt them out. And in order to keep them, the shelter would need to build a sanctuary where those cats could be kept separate.




The facilities include “cat condos” rather than cages, big enough for the cats to get plenty of exercise and go inside or out, but “it’s still not a home,” said McBurnie. The shelter just revamped the dog kennels as well. “Our shelter is pretty old, but we’re very proud of it,” she said. The staff encourages people to come in and visit. “We’re that nice down home shelter and I think people feel that way when they come in,” McBurnie said.

If someone is unable to adopt a pet, there are many ways to help the shelter. Volunteers are needed to give the cats love and attention, walk dogs, clean, or work in the thrift store next door that serves as the shelter’s largest fundraiser each year. 

Donations are always accepted as well, both for the animal shelter and the thrift store. There is a comprehensive list of needed items on the organizations website at www.harvesthills.org.

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