BRUNSWICK — Betsy Caron was up before sunrise Saturday, on a mission to fulfill a dream nearly 30 years in the making.

The Portland resident pulled into the parking lot at the Midcoast Humane Society around 7 a.m., in time to get the No. 2 spot on the list of people eager to adopt one of 44 dogs that were seized last summer from a home on River Road.

Scotty nibbles on the ear of kennel mate Sarge at the Midcoast Humane Society shelter in Brunswick. The mixed-breed dogs were among more than 20 dogs seized during a raid of a River Road home in Brunswick in August that were up for adoption on Saturday. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Friends had warned Caron to arrive early, knowing that pet adoption events often draw lots of interest, like a rock concert or a Black Friday sale. Caron wasn’t dissuaded.

“It was dark and raining, but I was going to make this happen,” said Caron, 29. “It’s my first dog. I’ve wanted one since I was a kid – I used to beg my parents – so it’s been a long time coming. This feels like the right time.”

Caron was among 60 individuals or families from across southern Maine who showed up Saturday to adopt one of the dogs seized in August at 1024 River Road. Police and animal control officers also took three goats and a parrot from the neglected property.

The dogs were found in crates that were stacked three or four high and “full of feces, urine and old food,” The Times Record reported. Ranging from six weeks to 13 years old, most were small mixed breeds resembling Chihuahuas, terriers and Pomeranians. The puppies were being advertised for sale online for $500 each.

The house had little ventilation and was infested with fleas, police said. The dogs had matted fur, dental disease, ear and skin infections, overgrown nails and behavioral issues related to lack of human interaction.

The house was condemned and four family members – Nancy, Robert, Diana and Kyle Enman – were charged with cruelty to animals and failing to provide them with clean and proper shelter, food and medical attention. The case remains under review by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

UP FOR ADOPTION

Twenty of the dogs were available for adoption starting at noon Saturday, said Sarah Murray, adoption program manager. By 6 p.m., all but three had been adopted, including a bonded pair that must be adopted together.

Sherry Cochran of Belgrade fills out a form, with the help of her husband, Ed Nevins, outside the Midcoast Humane Society shelter in Brunswick on Saturday. Twenty 20 dogs seized during a raid of a River Road home in August were up for adoption. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Several people who came to adopt one of the seized dogs wound up taking home other pets, including five cats.

Some of the seized dogs were returned to the Enmans by court order, Murray said. Several remain in foster care and may be offered for adoption in the future.

Caring for the dogs, including an extended period in quarantine and a variety of medical procedures, has cost about $30,000, which the shelter staff hopes will be offset by future donations and adoption fees.

Betsy Caron came ready to shell out $399 for the dog of her dreams. That’s the adoption fee for dogs that are adopted quickly. The higher fee offsets the cost of caring for dogs that require extensive medical treatment, remain at the shelter longer or have issues that warrant a reduced or eliminated fee.

“It seems like a good birthday gift for myself,” said Caron, a graphic designer, noting that she’ll soon turn 30. “Plus, my boyfriend is paying for half.”

Betsy Caron, of Portland, is emotional while meeting the dog she would adopt at the Midcoast Humane Society shelter in Brunswick on Saturday. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Caron was in the first group of prospective dog adopters to be welcomed into the shelter on Saturday. Her boyfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, Sofia Gironda, came along to help her pick out a pup.

“I don’t want to get my hopes up,” Caron said. She had been disappointed several times in the last two years, finding a dog online at a local animal shelter, only to learn when she called that it had been adopted.

Caron followed Kurtis Reed, a customer care specialist, into a kennel lined with cages. Some dogs barked loudly, nonstop. Others cowered in a back corner.

“I want to keep an open mind,” Caron said. “I want to focus on behavior over looks.”

Then she saw Pocahontas, a 12-pound, brown-and-white Chihuahua-terrier mix that Reed described as a shy “cuddle bug” who takes a while to warm up to strangers.

Caron held the nervous dog just long enough to know that Pocahontas was the one, even if the name wasn’t a keeper. The 3-year-old dog had arrived at the shelter with a case of tapeworms and dental issues, but it was ready to leave freshly spayed and with a clean bill of health.

Caron picked out a donated leash dotted with ladybugs, to match the dog’s red collar, and signed lots of paperwork, including a pledge to “love her and feed her and take care of her the rest of her life.” Then she left the shelter with the dog she’d been waiting for all of her life.

Back home in Portland Saturday evening, Caron was settling in with her new best friend. She had bought some dog food and treats and cute dog bowls. She and her boyfriend, Chris Gironda, had picked out a new name for their new pet with an old-fashioned ring to it: Birdie.

“She’s perfect,” Caron said in a phone call. “She’s already responding to her new name. She’s like my little stalker, following me everywhere. It’s been quite the day. I think she’s exhausted. We both are. I couldn’t have found a better dog.”

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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