Sweet Home Maine: Alabama shelter sends dogs to Lewiston in wake of storms, tornadoes

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LEWISTON — Little Dillard, Blacky and Sandy are about to embark on the car ride of their lives.

The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society is expecting those three and 47 dog pals from the Shelby Humane Society in Columbiana, Ala. — a 20-hour trip — so that shelter can make way for animals lost or abandoned during recent devastating storms.

“We’re helping relieve them so they can have room for the tornado dogs,” Lewiston shelter Manager Zachary Black said Monday.

Black said the humane society has worked with Shelby for the past two years, opening its doors to 30 dogs a month. Forty-five puppies driven up around Valentine’s Day were adopted in days.

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“We’ve placed every single one they’ve sent us,” Black said.

Saturday will mark the largest single delivery yet. The 50 dogs range in age from 2 months to 4 years, from 4 pounds to 80.

“There’s a big variety, all shapes and sizes, one for everyone,” Black said.

Sara Shirley, Shelby’s director of operations, said “the poor little Southern dogs” headed here have been brought in by old owners or found as strays. Her shelter can house up to 500, but not comfortably. Over the years, 4,167 dogs from her shelter have been saved by sending them to Maine and New Hampshire.

“There was a time I spent hours, literally hours, euthanizing,” Shirley said. “Now, I spend hours of my day checking who’s eligible for transport.”

She credited people in the Northeast with having “a different mindset,” seen in an emphasis on spaying and neutering and a willingness to open their homes.

“I don’t know how to put it into words; it just fills me with emotion,” Shirley said.

Black said the Southern dogs 6 months and older will be available for adoption beginning May 10; the younger dogs will be available May 12. A $30 surcharge is added to the cost of adoption to cover transport costs. In the meantime, the local shelter has 15 dogs they hope to have adopted to open up kennels for the new arrivals.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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