LEWISTON – Three Maine animal shelters – including the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston – will soon start offering for adoption the 250 dogs seized from the J’aime Kennel in Buxton, as well as their 100 puppies.

The animals are being spayed and neutered now, and will be released for adoption in waves over the next several weeks. The first group could be available as soon as the end of this week.

For some of the dogs, placement won’t be a problem. At the Lewiston shelter, for example, most of the more than two dozen J’aime dogs and puppies are spoken for, either by breed rescue groups or potential adoptive families.

“We have a bunch of homes lined up already,” Executive Director Steven Dostie said.

But it may take awhile for others to find new homes. Norma Worley, director of the state’s Animal Welfare Program, has called the Buxton kennel a puppy mill and said some of the dogs suffer from a range of physical and behavioral problems because of their time there, making placement more difficult.

In an unusual move, the Animal Welfare Program is presenting adoptive families with a seven-page information guide on the issues facing puppy mill-raised dogs and is giving families a 24-hour “cooling off period” to reconsider their decision before taking their new pet home.

“Just so they’re really informed,” Worley said.

According to the guide, puppy mill dogs can have problems with housebreaking, marking their territory and trusting humans.

The state seized about 250 miniature Australian shepherds, Brussels griffons, French bulldogs, American bulldogs, shelties and other dogs from the J’aime Kennel in August. The seized dogs have since given birth to more than 100 puppies.

The state and animal welfare volunteers initially cared for the dogs at the Buxton kennel, treating them for parasites and mange. More recently, the dogs were moved to three shelters and a Portland facility leased by the state’s Animal Welfare Program.

The Animal Welfare Society in Kennebunk has taken about 70 dogs, the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook has about 35 and the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society has over two dozen, most of them puppies. The Portland facility is caring for the rest.

The seizure was both the biggest in state history and the most expensive, Worley said. She expects the animals’ care to cost about $250,000 by the time it’s done. That’s more than a quarter of her department’s $900,000 annual budget.

“I hate to do this, but it may come up if we have other major seizures. We may have to be looking at alternatives,” Worley said. “Do we need to seize right now? Can we work with the owner longer? Is the funding available?”

J’aime Kennel owners John and Heidi Frasca have been charged with cruelty to animals and failure to provide medical care. An arrest warrant was issued for John Frasca earlier this month when he failed to appear at an arraignment hearing.

The Frascas have filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against at least 50 people involved in the seizure.

A judge has awarded the state custody of the Frascas’ animals. Because the kennel’s appeals have been exhausted, Worley said, the dogs can now be sent to new homes. Potential adoptive families should contact one of the shelters caring for the animals.

Worley believes it could take four to six weeks for all the dogs to find homes.

Challenges

Want to know more about the challenges facing puppy mill-raised dogs? Check out the seven-page information guide the state is giving to potential adoptive families. www.sunjournal.com

Adopting a dog

Want to adopt a J’aime Kennel dog?

FMI:

The Animal Welfare Society, Kennebunk: 985-3244

Animal Refuge League, Westbrook: 854-9771

Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, Lewiston: 783-2311


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