FARMINGTON — Along with an appetite for coffee and sweet treats, local Dunkin’ Donuts customers are also showing a heart for animals without homes.

Employees in the three coffee shops in Farmington and the one in Livermore Falls are encouraging customers to pass would-be tips on to the Franklin County Animal Shelter.

Small containers with photos of current animals at the shelter sit on the counter. During April, three of the four shops raised $530 for the shelter’s general budget, Jo Rumley, shelter manager, said.

When customers at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Walmart left change from their purchases, an employee suggested giving it to the shelter. Chasya Silvestre recently called the shelter. They are very organized and take care of the collections, she said. Dunkin’ Donuts is particular about what’s on the counter but the shelter came up with a clear box featuring a photo of a shelter animal, she said.

With a no-tipping policy in the shops, her parents, Dan and Christine Silvestre, who own and run the four shops, encouraged her to take the initiative and set something up with the shelter, Dan Silvestre said Tuesday.

It’s not always a matter of coins, sometimes people put one- and five-dollar bills in the container. A lot of customers around here support the work of the shelter, he said.

“The employees tell customers instead of giving a tip, donate to the animal shelter,” he said.

Once the Walmart shop started collecting, the Mt. Blue Plaza Dunkin’ Donuts and then the Livermore Falls shop added collection boxes on their counters. The three raised the April amount, Rumley said. 

Recently the shop on Main Street in Farmington added a box. He expects the downtown shop will contribute well once the university restarts in the fall.

The Silvestres of Farmington are familiar with the work of the organization after adopting four animals from the shelter, he said.

“They need support especially in these difficult times,” he added. “It’s impressive to see how generous people are during this tight situation.”

The shelter, which serves Franklin County, Starks, Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls, is grateful for the contribution, Rumley said.

The shelter has placed collection canisters in local businesses around the area but with a lot of foot traffic, the Dunkin’ Donuts shops and Tranten’s Market in both Farmington and Kingfield have been most successful. While the canisters are collected one a month, Dunkin’ Donuts and Tranten’s require weekly collections, she said.

The shelter, which is dependent on endowments and donations, continuously works on fundraising. Spaghetti suppers held in the spring and fall are helpful but the donation boxes are critical to survival, lucrative and fun, Rumley said.

The shelter’s planned July Critter Convention has been dropped due to a small response or lack of interest, she said.

The shelter population currently includes 11 dogs, 44 cats and 15 kittens in foster homes.

Kitten season is a little late in coming this year although the shelter has stocked up on kitten food, she said.

Last year from June through December the shelter housed 100 to 130 cats that stayed till homes could be found, she added.

The Sylvestres believe in helping the community and have worked with the Special Olympics and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and other organizations. Most Dunkin’ Donuts in Maine will donate $1 to Relay for Life for every ice coffee, any size, sold on May 25, he said.

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