State animal welfare officials seized 50 dogs and 11 cats from a shelter in Alfred on Thursday because the facility reportedly had failed inspections and failed to comply with licensing standards.

The seizure followed a search warrant executed at the Saving Lives Animal Shelter on Sanford Road (Route 202), but the dispute between the facility and the town of Alfred dates back months.

According to minutes of a Board of Selectmen meeting, the town notified owner Brenda MacKenzie in January that she had 30 days to get licensed as a shelter or legal action would be taken. Selectmen learned that within that 30-day window, state officials were called to the facility to investigate a case of parvo, a highly contagious and sometimes serious virus found in dogs.

Town officials consulted legal counsel last month.

“Though we want to talk about the incident, we must respect the case’s integrity until it works its way through the court system,” said Jim Britt, spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, which oversees the animal welfare division. “We can share that all animals were seized and removed because of the living conditions and medical concerns discovered during the search.”

Shelter owner MacKenzie did not respond to a message or email Friday but told NewsCenter Maine that she did not mistreat any of the animals and said the seizure included both dogs she took in as rescues and her own pets.


“I don’t think it needed to go the way it went,” she said. “I would not have been opposed to them taking animals, but I don’t think it was necessary to take my personal animals.”

According to its website, Saving Lives Animal Shelter “is a cat and dog rescue service in Alfred, Maine, dedicated to improving the lives of the animals that we rescue and help find their forever homes. We focus on the prevention of animal cruelty, neglect, and euthanasia through our advocacy campaigns and informational initiatives.”

The state is still investigating the circumstances that led to Thursday’s seizure, but charges are likely.

Britt said all of the seized animals have been placed at other shelters across the state, “where they are safe and receiving needed care.”

“We could not do the work that we do without the help of the animal shelters of Maine and the foster programs that they have created,” he said.

The seized animals are not likely to be put up for adoption anytime soon, Britt said, but many other pets are available at shelters.

“And there are different ways to help, such as volunteering at local animal shelters and supporting local shelter fundraising efforts,” he said.

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