FARMINGTON – Space is so tight in Maine’s animal shelters that some quarantined dogs are killed because no place can be found to keep them for the 10-day period.

Norma Worley, director of the state animal welfare program, said Tuesday it’s rare for such a situation to occur because most quarantined dogs are cared for by their owners.

But last week, a Wilton dog who bit three people in 11 days was euthanized because no space could be found to house her for the 10-day quarantine period.

Less than a dozen shelters in the state have been authorized to care for large dogs under quarantine, Worley said, and those shelters usually only have space for one dog.

Last week, Wilton Animal Control Officer Wayne Atwood called shelters for hours, looking for a place to keep Moxie for the 10-day quarantine, without luck.

“There’s such a risk to taking an animal that has bitten – it’s a liability to their staff, professional insurance would have to be higher,” Worley said.

“They’re very conscientious people,” said Patti Lovell, director of the Franklin County Animal Shelter, of Atwood and the town and state officials he consulted with. Of putting the dog down, she said, “It was a tough decision, and they made it as a last resort.”

“Very few shelters have the facilities,” Lovell said. “There is a genuine lack of space, but there is an increased need for it.”

Well before last week’s euthanization, Lovell and the shelter’s board was working on plans to transform part of the shelter garage into a quarantine facility capable of taking on possibly dangerous dogs. The construction of the special kennel is expected to cost about $30,000, Lovell said, and the shelter is welcoming any donations toward the cost.

Having a space to keep quarantined dogs could end up saving their lives, even dogs thought to be too unfriendly to be adopted, Lovell said.

She contends that dogs like Moxie, quarantined because they bite, are not necessarily bad or vicious. “I always say there’s no such thing as a bad dog,” she said. “There are only bad breeders, or bad owners.”

Last week, after ordering Moxie’s euthanization, Atwood said the situation frustrated him. If room had been found for her for the quarantine period, she might have had a chance, he said.

“It might have been a good dog for somebody, if we could find a responsible person after the 10 days,” he said.

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