Category Archives: ARLGP Staff

Our South Korean Dogs: 1 Year Anniversary

Today marks our one year anniversary of helping five dogs from South Korea.

In honor of this special day, we’d like to take a look back at their year in our care and extend our heartfelt gratitude to YOU our volunteers, foster families, and adoptive families who all stepped up to help animals in need. We’d also like to thank our community who supported us and participated in this amazing journey – you helped five dogs find a new beginning.

On Thursday, May 26, 2016, five of the 250 dogs rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea by Humane Society International (HSI) arrived at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP). Our team waited excitedly to welcome them to our shelter and to help them gain comfort and confidence in their new surroundings.

Upon arrival, they were unable to walk off the transport vehicle. Quite frankly, they didn’t know how. They had only lived in small wire crates, with no ability to walk around, move about freely or receive human touch or assistance. They were in rough shape. We adapted and faced these challenges head on, and used our training and skills to meet them where they were at and work from there.

As an emergency placement partner of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the ARLGP serves as a safety net for animals rescued from inhumane conditions. For those who questioned our commitment to local dogs, our top priority is always to homeless and displaced pets in Greater Portland, as well as our state. When an opportunity to help animals in need is presented to us and we have the space available, we are always happy to lend a helping hand.

Over the past year, we’ve celebrated their individual journeys to where they are today…

Ron (now Myles) was the first to be placed in a foster home, then his adoptive home. He quickly adapted to his new life and he immediately thrived with training and socialization.

Huey, one of our husky mixes, was the second to enter a foster home. He is now in his permanent home, with many canine siblings, living the life of a companion pooch, even if on his own terms.


Stuart, our most recently adopted, received more questions and inquiries while on our adoption floor than any other pooch available. Every visitor wanted to know his story, and once we told it, they were quick to share with friends and family to help us find Stuart the home he was looking for. He’s now living the life on his farm, with lots of two and four-legged family members to share it with.

And, today marks a new chapter for our fourth dog, Victor. One year from the day he arrived, he will be moved to our adoption floor. Victor is a beautiful jindo mix, looking for a home with a canine companion that will continue to show him all the wonderful perks of being a dog in a loving home with humans who care deeply for him.

And last, but certainly not least, is Forrest. Forrest is still receiving training, socialization and enrichment in our care, to get him to a point where he is ready for his new home and family, even if that looks a little different than the average adopter. Each and every one of these dogs took a different amount of time and a different approach of training, and we are committed to reaching the finish line with each.


Today, we are reminded that the way an animal arrives at our door doesn’t matter. Whether it’s abandoned on the side of the road, left in our parking lot, a stray wandering the neighborhood, or through our life-saving collaborations with shelters and rescues in Maine and beyond— it’s where they end up that really counts. These five boys taught us about unconditional love, patience and compassion. No words were required, only simple acts of kindness.

To all of those reading this, we thank you for believing in our mission and supporting our vision and values with your volunteerism, your in-kind gifts of food and linens, and with your generous financial support. Our success at saving the lives of Ron, Huey, Stuart, Victor, Forrest, and 4,000 animals every year is because of YOU.  

Down East Magazine: See Stuart Run
Portland Press Herald: Dogs rescued from South Korean meat farm treated in Maine


12 Saves of Christmas: Nala & Lee (save #11)

The first week of January 2016 we received two very different dogs, with two very different medical situations.

Lee, a 4-month-old yellow lab mix, was brought in due to chronic vomiting and was underweight. He couldn’t seem to keep any food down.

Nala, an 11-year-old black lab mix, came in extremely overweight with numerous masses, an eye infection, and in pretty rough shape overall.

Through medical treatment, biopsies and multiple tests for both, we learned that both Nala and Lee each had advanced medical conditions. Lee was diagnosed with megaesophagus, a birth defect with his aorta that caused his esophagus to be partially pinched and in turn stretches the upper end of the esophagus. This prevents Lee from eating solid food. Nala has immune mediated arthritis and presumed lupus. The diseases cause her to have sore joints and skin lesions. After diagnosis, we knew that both dogs would require a home and family with the ability to provide a higher level of care for both of them to live happy and healthy lives.

Because of their medical needs and our timeline of treatment, both Nala and Lee were candidates for foster. We reached out to a local couple, Darrin (a long-time dog volunteer) and Nicole (a former staff member), to see if they were interested in welcoming one foster dog into their home. However, as soon as Darrin and Nicole visited and met Lee and Nala they said “why not take both?”

We did the routine dog-to-dog introductions, to ensure the dogs enjoyed each other’s company. To our surprise, this puppy and senior gal thoroughly enjoyed each other! We happily sent them home with Darrin and Nicole, where they both began to thrive. After their foster period concluded, Darrin and Nicole officially adopted them into their family. With Nicole’s veterinary background and Darrin’s dog experience, both Nala and Lee’s medical needs are completely under control. Nala has even lost 20 pounds! And Lee happily drinks every meal “milk shake” standing up straight, something he was trained to do to ensure his food digests properly.

We asked Darrin and Nicole to tell us about their experience adopting not one- but two- special needs dogs, and how it has changed their life for the better.


“Nala really picked us. She had a way of looking at us that made you feel that she was reading your soul. She was so cuddly and sweetly craved attention. When we met Lee we could tell that he was full of life and was spunky. We felt that he would love to play outside and enjoy our backyard. We love the outdoors and it seemed that Lee would enjoy spending time outside with us.

Nala and Lee have changed our lives completely. They both have made us very happy. There is more love in the house, less room on the couch and we are busier in caring for them. We love every minute of it.


We look forward to celebrating this winter season with both dogs. Nala will enjoy spending time with her extended family and giving them the gift of cuddling and her love. Lee is excited about playing with his extended family (dogs included) and can’t wait to play in the snow and join us in snowshoeing several times this winter. The holiday season is about spending time with the ones you love and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to spend time with Nala and Lee.”

We love Nala and Lee’s story, two very different dogs in need of immediate treatment and care to survive. With Darrin and Nicole, they will have all the love, affection and care they will ever need (even if the couch has less room these days). We thank them for welcoming these two special pooches into their lives; we know it’s exactly where they are meant to be.

You can help support animals like Nala and Lee who arrive at the ARLGP in need of immediate medical treatment and care by making a donation to our Carson Medical Fund

ARLGP Receives PETCO Foundation Grant, New Shelter to Open This Fall


From all of us at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP), we wish to extend a very heartfelt thank you to the Petco Foundation for their recent gift of $75,000 to our new Arthur P. Girard Adoption Center.

We are thrilled to be recognized by the Petco Foundation for our lifesaving efforts in the Greater Portland community, the state of Maine, and beyond. Our new adoption and community center, slated to open later this fall, will be a destination location for people and their pets. Centered around adoption, spay/neuter and education, our new facility will allow us to expand our services and programming to community members of all ages. Our new space is also a new chapter for the ARLGP, and we are incredibly excited about the opportunities it presents in caring for animals in need and serving our community. This $75,000 Petco Foundation grant is instrumental in helping us achieve our goals as a lifesaving organization. We are honored to be a Petco Foundation partner!

Please join us in thanking the Petco Foundation for supporting the ARLGP and our new facility. Together, we are saving lives.


We are in the final countdown to the opening of our new adoption and community center! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of progress, with flooring down, paint on the walls and turf in the many play yards. The final touches are being installed over the next 2-3 weeks including kennels, countertops, signs, appliances and more. Our team of staff and volunteers are bursting with excitement for the big move.

We hope you’ll join us for our grand opening celebration! The exact date and time is to be determined, but keep an eye on our Facebook and website for updates over the next couple weeks.



Meet Lady Bug, Our Resident Supermodel

Lady Bug is quite the supermodel. Just look at that beautiful coat, and those sparkling green eyes. She’s 9-years-young and has a healthy zest for life. You just might say, she’s cute as a bug (see what we did there?)!


Our staff and volunteers are head over heels for this girl. She came to the ARLGP from a home where she was strictly an indoor cat. However, we’ve noticed that this Lady Bug (like most) enjoys her daily time outside in our cat-ios where she plays, digs and rolls in the dirt. We often find her bird watching, munching on the grass, and bathing in the sun.

However, when the camera came out, it was all about posing for this supermodel:

Lady Bug lived with cat-savvy children in her former home. Lady Bug can get quite playful, so older kiddos who understand cat signals would be best. She’s known for giving some love nibbles from time-to-time. But, we know it’s all affection. She was also respectful of other felines in her foster home, but may prefer to be the shining star on her runway.

Lady Bug is also a special needs kitty. She has hyperthyroid and requires medication twice a day. She’s very good about taking her medication because it always comes with a delicious meatball! Hyperthyroid is a condition we see often in kitties, and is easily managed at home. She is happy and healthy, and ready to meet her new family.

If loving, fun and young at heart is what you are looking for in your feline companion, stop by and meet Lady Bug. You’ll likely find her lounging in the sun, or with a paw extended to say “how do you do?!” Or, give us a call to learn more about her at (207) 854-9771.

ARLGP South Korean Dog Update


Over the past six weeks all 5 dogs have been working on a comprehensive training plan with our professional trainer, Liz Langham, of Tree Frog Farm Dog Training. Ron was the first to reach milestones including leash desensitization, interaction with people, confidence building, hand targeting and socialization. He was placed in one of our volunteer foster homes, and adapted incredibly well to the new environment and home surroundings.

In his foster home, Ron has had a confident canine companion which has allowed him to observe, understand and learn in-home behaviors and routines. In his permanent placement, it is required that Ron has a confident and well-socialized canine sibling to continue to learn and transition smoothly.

If you are interested in adopting Ron, please read his detailed bio and complete and return our South Korean Dog Adopter Survey. Completed surveys must be emailed to Upon submission, surveys will be reviewed and applicants will be contacted to schedule a family meet-and-greet with Ron. Please note: Ron is currently in his foster home, and cannot be met on a drop-in basis.


We are currently looking for qualified foster homes three (Victor, Stuart and Huey) of the our four remaining South Korean dogs.

Interested foster families are required to have a confident and social canine. Once in their foster home, they will need to continue to follow their training plan with their foster family with assistance from ARLGP staff.

If you are interested in fostering one of our South Korean dogs, please complete and submit our South Korean Dog Foster Survey. Completed surveys must be emailed to We will respond to all interested applicants who qualify as a suitable foster home with an invitation for a meet-and-greet at the ARLGP. Based on their confidence levels, multiple meet-and-greets at the ARLGP (with the entire foster family) will be key to a successful and smooth transition into their foster homes.

PLEASE NOTE: the foster and adoption process of our other South Korean dogs differ from our typical foster/adoption process. Due to their upbringing and training requirements, these dogs require a specific home and family environment. ARLGP staff and trainers will be reviewing applicants and selecting homes on a case-by-case basis. This is not a first-come, first-served process.

ARLGP Completes $300K Sewall Match Challenge



We are incredibly grateful to be part of such a compassionate and caring community. It is always our top priority to provide the highest level of care to the 4,000 homeless and displaced animals that depend on us every year. Our new facility will allow us to continue these services, while creating new opportunities for our community of pets and their people.

We hope you join us in celebrating this milestone, for animals in Greater Portland-and beyond. Together, we can ensure every animal has the opportunity to find their new, happy home.

If you missed the call for matching donations – no worries! It is never too late to purchase a brick or paver and no gift is too small to help the animals. You can purchase a brick in honor, in memory, or on behalf of a loved one.  People and pet names will grace the walkway and entrances to the new shelter.

On behalf of the entire ARLGP team, thank you for being a friend to animals in need, our success is because of you.

Patsy Murphy
Executive Director

ARLGP Welcomes New Director of Operations

JTownsend1The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) is thrilled to introduce Jess Townsend, our new Director of Operations. Jess will be charged with a variety of key roles at the ARLGP including managing daily facility operations, community services and program offerings, and our animal intake and adoption program.

Jess comes to the ARLGP with a significant background in animal welfare. After discovering her passion for animal welfare and adoption while volunteering with a cat rescue, Jess Townsend began her professional career in animal welfare in 2007 at the Maryland SPCA in Baltimore. Coming to the industry with an education in psychology and art from Providence College, and a professional background ranging from graphic design to marketing, she felt she had found her calling working with animals in need.  Jess joined the Washington Humane Society in 2009 and over the course of five years she was privileged to be part of a team making huge strides in their life-saving programs as well as managing a large, urban animal shelter at an exciting time of growth and change.  Bringing that experience in innovation, flexibility and progress to the ARLGP, Jess is excited to be coming back to New England. She joins our Greater Portland community with her two adopted dogs, Helga and Legolas (who started as her foster dog and never left) and her two adopted cats, Laila and Banshee.

Patsy Murphy, Executive Director, is confident Jess will make an excellent addition to the ARLGP team, “She will be a strong asset to our organization as we increase community awareness of our services and programs and continue our fundraising for a new adoption and community center.”

Please join us in welcoming Jess to the ARLGP! The next time you are in, feel free to say hello and welcome her to our wonderful community of animals and animal-lovers.