Recently, I read I Am Dexter by part-time Rangeley residents Steve and Dr. Dru Pollinger. The Pollingers own and operate the Fair Haven Animal Hospital in Fair Haven, Vermont. In just under 200 pages, they detail their family’s experience rehabilitating Dexter, a previously abused and abandoned dog.
Dexter’s story got me thinking about dogs I know in the region and how their owners can keep them safe, particularly in the crowded summer months. I spoke with Lisa Symes, the Rangeley Animal Control Officer, who shared some wisdom from her twelve years in the role. She mostly handles cats and dogs, as all wild animals are directed to the game warden.

Lisa Symes

First, Symes offered suggestions for maintaining pets’ safety in the summer. “When people come to visit, we’re a pretty friendly town as far as animals go. All the outside [restaurants] let you bring your dog to sit net to you, so there’s no need to leave your dog in the car. Rangeley doesn’t get that hot, but crack your [car] windows more than two inches. Or, leave your dog home,” she said.
Leaving pets at home is particularly helpful advice for families who visit for only a few days at a time, particularly on the weekends. Symes reminded me that the closest vet is two hours away: “​​It’s an emergency vet in Lewiston. People have to think about that, too…if you bring a sick dog you’re not going to have a vet down the street.”
In terms of day-to-day safety, Symes stressed the importance of putting name tags on all pets. “Some people are afraid to put tags on them, because they get caught. But most dogs have collars. Embroider your phone number! You don’t have to put a name, just embroider your phone number on the collar,” she said. In her experience, the hardest part of dealing with a lost dog is finding its owner.
For families looking to rescue, foster, or adopt a pet, Symes recommends the Franklin County Animal Shelter or online rescues on Facebook. There are even dedicated rescues for specific breeds, which can help families on both ends of the placement.
If you stumble upon a lost cat or dog in the Rangeley area, contact Symes at 207-670-5146. If you find a lost pet out of town, leave the animal where it is and call the Animal Control Officer in that area.

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