Category Archives: humane education

Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips!

fireworksHolidays are often busy and hectic, and we sometimes overlook how our four-legged friends feel about the chaos and excitement of our holiday celebrations. Fireworks in particular can be a loud and very scary thing for our animal companions. As we gear up for our Fourth of July celebrations, remember a few very important rules to keep your pet happy, healthy and home this holiday.

  • The best place for your pet on the Fourth of July is home. Ensuring that Fido has a quiet, comfortable and calming place to retreat to if he is feeling overwhelmed or frightened is extremely important.
  • If you must have your dog with you during your holiday celebration, make sure they are always leashed and with an adult. The ARLGP and shelters across the nation see an increase in loose/stray dogs the night of July 4th, as well as the morning after, due to dogs bolting in fear of fireworks. The best place for your pet is at home, with no opportunity to run away!
  • Make sure your dog has a collar with identification tags. In the event that your dog does run away, identification tags aid in a speedy return home when they are found. If your pet does get away, immediately call your local Animal Control Officer and shelter.
  • Go beyond identification tags: microchip your pet! Microchips are the #1 way for shelters to reunite stray pets with their owners. The ARLGP provides low-cost microchipping services at just $35 per pet. You can come in during our daily open hours for this quick and easy procedure, with no appointment necessary. It’s an important component of pet identification, and significantly increases the chances of reuniting with your pet if he/she is brought in as lost or stray.
  • If your pet is joining you at family gatherings, make sure they have a cool spot with fresh water to beat the heat! Summertime in Maine can reach uncomfortable temperatures. Making sure fresh, cold water is available at all times is extremely important, as well as healthy (dog-friendly) food. Having access to an indoor area is also necessary, so your pup can relax and keep cool.
  • Never leave a dog in a car during the summer months, as temperatures inside the vehicle climb to unbearable and deadly levels (often 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature). Check out this interesting experiment when a veterinarian locked himself in a hot car to demonstrate how our pups would feel. A quick run into the grocery store can be incredibly dangerous for your pup. It’s best to leave them home!

If you remember nothing else this Fourth of July, remember this: the best place for your four-legged friends is in the comfort of their own home!


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

PETCO Adoption Event, Saturday 3/4


The ARLGP is proud to partner with the PETCO Foundation and the Maine Mall PETCO for the Love Changes Everything national adoption event.

We’ll be bringing a puppy palooza to the Maine Mall PETCO on Saturday, March 4th, at 10am. If you’ve been looking to add a new four-legged companion to your family, this may be your purr-fect opportunity.

We’ll have 6 puppies available for adoption at PETCO beginning at 10am. Sheba, Stevie, Saga, Sax, Shelly and Petey all range from 2-3 months old. They are All American mixes, and incredibly adorable.

As always, ARLGP adoptions are first-come, first-served, and require our normal adoption application process. You may download and print an adoption application to bring with you, or you may fill one out at PETCO the day of the event. Adoption events are often busy, so please be prepared to wait a small amount of time to meet an animal and talk to one of our adoption counselors.

While were talking all about puppies, we think it’s important to note that adopting a young pet (and all pets in general) requires patience, dedication and flexibility. Puppies need potty training, obedience training, socialization and lots of outlets for physical and mental enrichment. We will have adoption counselors on-hand to discuss the joys of adoption and what their needs will be as they grow into adult companions.

A huge thanks to our PETCO partner, the Maine Mall PETCO, for inviting us to participate in such a wonderful event. An equally big PAWS UP to the PETCO Foundation for supporting shelter pets and adoption.

12 Saves of Christmas: Puck (save #4)

Puck came to the ARLGP two days before Christmas in 2015. He was approximately 5-years-old and had been blind the majority of his life. His family was at a point where they were unable to care for him, and we happily welcomed him here and made it a priority to find him a new beginning.

puck2Because of his obvious vision impairment, we did many tests and evaluations on Puck.  Overall, he was a pretty healthy pooch. Due to a condition called Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS), Puck had in fact been blind most of his adult life. We observed him to be quite quick to learn new places and spaces, and was incredibly friendly to our staff and volunteers. He did however seem a bit overwhelmed in the shelter environment and would get anxious when our team members would leave him for extended periods of time. Because of this, we placed him into our foster program. He went home with one of our veterinary technicians to get lots of TLC while we worked hard to find him a permanent, happy home.

Just a couple short weeks later, Puck was adopted. After spending a week in his new home, the family found the resident dog wasn’t all that amused with the company of a new dog. We completely understood and Puck returned to his previous ARLGP foster home, and we continued to work on finding him his spot.

In January a local retired veterinarian, Eve, took a look on our website. She wasn’t necessarily looking for a new canine companion, but once she saw Puck, she was highly intrigued…

“Just about a year ago my once numerous “pack” had been reduced to a 13-year-old dog going deaf, a 13-year-old cat trying to survive mouth cancer and 2 horses.  I had not planned to adopt any more since I thought that would be stressful on the old pets, but I was looking at the reality of losing both my indoor pets at the same time and I knew I couldn’t live in an empty house.  So I started looking online for a dog who would fit in.


I had jokingly said to friends that I liked Jack Russell’s but would need an old Jack or a half-Jack as they are so feisty.  When I saw Puck featured on ARLGP’s website I was intrigued.  I read that he had developed SARDS and was totally blind but healthy otherwise.  As a retired veterinarian, I wasn’t put off by this and thought it might be an asset as he couldn’t chase the cat or the horses.  So I promised myself if he was still there in a week, I’d go see him.  But, to my dismay, he was adopted.

In a few weeks, I returned to the website to check out the dogs and found Puck back up for adoption.  This time, I made an appointment to see him and took my other dog for the meet & greet.  The rest is history.

He has never really acted blind and when he bumps into something, he just changes direction.  Most people who meet him don’t know he’s blind.  His former owners socialized him perfectly and he’s never met a dog or a person he doesn’t like.  Since he’s young and my old dog can’t really roughhouse with him, we have playdates with other dogs where they run in the field or walk the Eastern Trail.  His nose and hearing are great.  He’s met the horses, but has no fear of them so has to be on leash so he doesn’t get under their feet.  I’m sure if he could see them, he’d be a little more careful.


I’ve since lost my cat, so both dogs are important companions for me and each other.  Puck does suffer from separation anxiety and if I’m going to be away from the house, he has to be crated which doesn’t bother him.  I’m hopeful that in time, he’ll see that I come back.  He’s also good in the car and loves rides. He’s noisier than any of the other dogs I’ve had and barks pretty loudly when he’s excited.  I’m sure he’d have some minor complaints about me as codependent if he could voice them.  🙂

In my day, I’ve adopted cats, dogs, guinea pigs and 1 of my horses is a rescue, so when I think about getting another pet, adoption is high on the list.  If you do your research and know what will fit best in your life, it’s great for all.  We all come with baggage, after all.”


12 Saves of Christmas: Benjamin the bun (save #6)

Back in June a young bunny named Benjamin arrived to the ARLGP after being attacked by a dog.  He required immediate medical attention, multiple stitches and lots of TLC from our team.  He even had to wear a miniature cone (something he wasn’t all that fond of).

However, throughout the entire ordeal,  Benjamin was easily one of the sweetest, most social rabbits we’ve had at the ARLGP. He sought affection from our staff and volunteers, loved hopping around to say hi, and very much enjoyed receiving oodles of love and affection. He received so much attention, he didn’t know what to do with himself!

Finally in August, Benjamin was healed and feeling healthy again. He was ready to hop on out of here with a new family.

During the same time period, we were running our first full summer of camp for kids. We welcomed more than 100 local students through our doors over the summer to teach them all about responsible pet care! One of those students, Jacob, happened to hop on into the small animal room himself, and found a new best friend. We asked Jacob all about Benjamin and how he’s doing in his new, happy home:

ARLGP: Jacob, what was it about Benjamin that connected you?

Jacob: I was attending the Animal Refuge League summer camp and I went to the critters room (because it was my turn to go.) When I first saw Benjamin I felt a connection between he and I and I wanted him really bad. I loved how active he was. We did bunny enrichment during camp. We took a paper bag and added hay and fruit, then tied it up. I gave mine to Benjamin and he tore it apart and loved it. It was fun to watch him and it made me want to adopt him even more.

img_3251ARLGP: How has your pet changed your home and family?

Jacob: I save my money to buy things for Benjamin such as hay and pellets. I enjoy creating toys for him from cardboard tubes, sticks, bark, pine cones, even broken wooden spoons. My father was hesitant about getting Benjamin, but now he LOVES Benjamin.

ARLGP: How has Benjamin been doing in your home with your family?

Jacob: I think Benjamin has been doing great. He loves throwing his hay all around his cage (especially after it has just been cleaned 🙂 I look forward to coming home from school each day to play with Benjamin.  Having a bunny was more work than I originally thought, but I wouldn’t change anything. He is worth it.

Jacob and Benjamin’s story makes us happy for SO many reasons! We love that Jacob had such an awesome time at summer camp, and we love even more that he met his new best friend here. We think these two will be very happy together for a long time!


Christmas Delivery Adoption Program

xmas_delivery_flier-web2All this week the ARLGP will be offering Christmas Eve or Christmas morning delivery for eligible pets. We know many families choose to adopt during the holiday season, and this year we’re making it a bit more fun with delivery of your adopted family member by our ARLGP elves.

Per our standard adoption policy, all of our furry friends are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Adoptions will follow our standard process of application and counseling. We think it’s also important to note that we know the holidays can be a busy time of year in many households. Our adoption counselors will chat all about the joys of welcoming a new four-legged friend into your family, and the transition period that can be expected.

We encourage interested adopters to visit us this week and chat with a team member about our delivery program! Or, give us a call at (207) 854-9771 to learn more about this holiday fun.

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