Donna Ziemak holds Lark, one of the many cats at Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills in Paris. Submitted photo

PARIS — Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills is struggling to meet expenses and President Shirley Boyce is worried it won’t have the nearly half million dollars needed annually to operate the no-kill shelter.

Overwhelmed with cats, almost full up with dogs and seeing an influx of stray dogs and kittens, the cost of feeding, spaying, neutering, vaccinating and treating them has almost doubled at the same time there’s a scarcity of staff, volunteers and veterinarians.

“Our costs have skyrocketed also due to labor costs and the increase in animals,” Boyce said. “Adoptions are down, due to the economy. People are thinking twice.”

Further, a shelter in Rumford recently shut down and those animals were brought to Responsible Pet Care.

Boyce said it costs about $470,000 annually to operate the shelter at 9 Swallow Road.

The shelter does receive community support by means of fundraisers, including ticket auctions, toll booths and bake sales. And it accepts food for dogs and cats of all ages and special foods for sick animals. Even so, there aren’t enough resources to meet the needs.


“We have even had the food pantry calling us to see if we have any extra food,” Boyce said.

Another need is dog and cat litter. The shelter augments its supply with wood pellets that cost about $6 a bag, Boyce said, which is far less expensive than clay litter.

And then come medical treatments and veterinarians to provide them.

Boyce said one caller who found three strays was willing to pay for surgeries but couldn’t get an appointment until next August.

“This was someone who was willing to get them spayed,” Boyce said. “But with the veterinarian shortage the wait period is so long.” Spaying and neutering is not happening, because prices have doubled, she said.

The Maine Veterinary Medical Association website has ads for 85 openings at veterinary practices in Maine.


Boyce said the shelter has booked the state’s mobile clinic for Jan. 23-25 to hold a spay and neuter clinic.  Fees will be based on income. To make a reservation call the shelter at 207-743-8679 or email

Molly Poland cuddles Gerald at Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills in Paris. Submitted photo

Among the opportunities fto support the shelter are:

• Donate dog and cat litter.

• Use Amazon Wishlist and Chewy Wishlist.

• Bring returnable bottles and cans to Don’s Redemption Center on Cottage Street in Norway, noting the money is for Responsible Pet Care.

• Use CLYNK for RPC by picking up special green bags from Responsible Pet Care or Pawsibilities, the shelter’s thrift shop at 124 Waterford Road, Norway, and take Maine redeemable cans and bottles to Hannaford. Scan the code on the label attached to the bag and place it in the recycle box at any Hannaford store. A check will be sent to the shelter.

• Donate serviceable household treasures to Pawsibilities at 124 Waterford Road, Norway.

• Download the app and support Responsible Pet Care every time you walk your dog.

• Volunteer to clean cages, wash litter pans, walk dogs, brush cats, do laundry, transport animals to medical appointments, assist with fundraisers, and write grants.

• Sponsor a cat kennel for $10 a month; a dog kennel for $25 a month.

• Donate to the medical fund, which pays for routine procedures such as spaying and neutering, vaccinations, dewormings, flea treatments and parasite testing, and major injuries. Send donations to Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills, P.O. Box 82, Norway, ME 04268.

• Send an honor/remembrance gift by completing and printing the Gift Giver’s Form on the shelter website. Print “In Honor Of” on the certificate. Donate directly through PayPal or make a check payable to Responsible Pet Care and mail it to the address on the form.

• Use Amazon Smile, which donates 0.5% of every purchase made to the charity of the buyer’s choice. Go to Amazon, sign up for Amazon Smile and choose Responsible Pet Care as the charity.

• Use to donate a part of each purchase to Responsible Pet Care. There are more than 2,300 stores from which to shop.

• Make bequests designated for Responsible Pet Care when planning your estate.

• Become an annual sponsor of the shelter.

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