When a supporter drops off a dozen cans of cat food at the Animal Rescue League in Westbrook, it’s a good day for the organization, which has been struggling to feed the animals in its shelter.

So how might they feel if an 18-wheeler rumbled up and dropped off 1,044 cans of cat food?

“Goosebumps,” said Executive Director Patsy Murphy, recalling the day last week when it actually happened. “We have such a need right now, and we had just put out the call for food donations.

“It was a divine intervention,” she said.

The gift, with a retail value of more than $1,000, started out as a miscommunication.

A long-distance truck driver arrived in Scarborough on Friday, Aug. 20, with a delivery for Hannaford Bros. Co. He unloaded most of his truck, but the supermarket chain had not ordered the cat food — 87 cases with 12 cans to a case.

“I got a call from the truck driver,” said Debi Estrella, animal control officer for the City of Portland. “He said he had 80 cases of cat food on board, and his boss wanted the truck back empty.”

Estrella got in touch with the league, which operates the shelter in Westbrook and serves 14 communities in Greater Portland.

“It was perfect,” Estrella said. “I helped two people at once. That doesn’t happen very often.”

Murphy, the league director, said several staffers and volunteers helped the trucker unload the cases. The shelter has been at capacity for cats in the past few weeks, and the count on Friday was around 150. Many of the animals are strays, and many have been brought to the shelter by owners who can no longer afford to care for them. Thanks to the truck delivery and other donations in the past week, the shelter has not had to cut back on feedings, Murphy said.

“That single donation will last a couple weeks,” she said. “We have gone through quite a bit of it.

“We always have a need for food. We always have a need for bedding and we always have a need for foster families,” Murphy said.

Estrella said she did not take down the truck driver’s name or other information, and a Hannaford spokesperson could not be reached on Friday evening.

“He was very nice,” Estrella said of the trucker. “He was just panicked because he didn’t know what to do with the food.”

 

Staff writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: [email protected]