A dog named Donald eyes visitors during the grand opening of Midcoast Humane’s new shelter on July 23, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Midcoast Humane celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 5 Industrial Pkwy in Brunswick on Saturday.

State Sen. Mattie Daughtry and Midcoast Humane Board Chair Bill Muldoon were among the speakers at ribbon-cutting ceremony, before guests toured the new building to meet and play with the dozens of dogs and cats currently available for adoption.

“I’m proud to be here as someone whose life would literally not be the same without this shelter,” said Daughtry, who added that she’s adopted several pets from the Brunswick organization. “I can’t wait to see what the next 70 years brings for Midcoast Humane.”

Midcoast Humane finalized the purchase of the Industrial Parkway shelter just days before COVID-19 lockdowns closed most public spaces in March 2020, according to Executive Director Jess Townsend. After pandemic-related delays, the organization finally moved its animals into the new space last month, an upgrade Townsend said was long overdue.

Jess Townsend, executive director of Midcoast Humane, cuts the ceremonial ribbon outside the shelter’s new building on July 23, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

“The whole project has been driven by necessity, not by choice,” she said. “Our building at Range Road was no longer suitable in any way, shape of form.”

Built in 1950, Midcoast Humane’s previous shelter had failing plumbing, electrical and drainage systems, Townsend said.


“We were fighting the environment,” agreed behavior and training specialist Ben Bricker. “Here, everything is smooth; everything is set up properly. It’s just so much better.”

The Midcoast Humane team designed the new building with the latest research on animal behavior and care in mind, Bricker said. Instead of bright white walls that can fluoresce in an animal’s vision, the shelter features a “fear-free” color palette of purple, light blue and taupe. While one dog’s barking used to ring through the entire floor, distressing all of the dog’s neighbors, built-in sound baffling now helps keep things calm and quiet, while a system of speakers and cameras allows staff to monitor animals remotely and soothe them with music.

New amenities will allow the shelter’s clinical staff to expand their services, according to Dr. Menolly Cote, the organization’s medical director.

Previously, the Midcoast team spayed and neutered animals in a mobile surgical unit – essentially a converted RV with two surgical bays, according to Cote. The new shelter, which is equipped with a digital x-ray machine and dental facilities, will allow Cote’s team to conduct procedures that they used to farm out to other hospitals, like bladder and abdominal exploratory surgeries.

Midcoast Humane volunteer Trinity Brown gives Gambit a ride as guests visit the dozens of animals available for adoption at the shelter. John Terhune / The Times Record

“One thing that I really love about our organization is that we’re able to support people where they are,” Cote said. “We’re able to provide that even better with our new facility.”

Midcoast can now shelter 30% more cats than previously, an important upgrade at a time when adoptions are slowing and the number of unsheltered felines is on the rise, according to Townsend.


“We’re having quite a kitten season this year,” she said. “We’re not used to seeing this many kittens locally, and we started seeing them much sooner than we usually do. We had newborns in February, which is unusual.”

The surplus of local cats has meant Midcoast Humane and other Maine shelters have been able to take in fewer animals from other states, Townsend said. Before the pandemic, out-of-state shelters transported about 10,000 out-of-state cats and dogs to Maine each year, according to data from Maine’s Animal Welfare Program.

While summer months often bring adoption slowdowns, according to Assistant State Veterinarian Rachael Fiske, the current lull may also be a response to a surge of interest in pet ownership during the early months of the pandemic.

“Have we saturated the market?” she asked. “I’m not sure.”

Besides donating to shelters like Midcoast Humane, animal lovers can help by staying on top of their pet care and scheduling appointments several months in advance, Fiske said.

“If you’re adopting a pet or buying a pet, whatever the case may be, it needs to be a planned thing,” she said. “Most people that are planning to have a baby are going to pick out a pediatrician and probably make a phone call in advance. I think we need to shift to change that mindset about our pet family members as well.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.