By Erinne Magee

It’s not uncommon to search or share funny and adorable animal videos for an instant pick-me-up. Knowing how much joy these cats and pups bring, may be the reason why 2020 was still filled with heartwarming pet-adoption stories, despite the pandemic.

“Covid has caused some animals to be with us for a little longer due to decreased foot traffic,” said Kathryn Ravenscraft, Director of Development at the Bangor Humane Society, who adds that demand has been high, but matches take more time not just because of extra safety precautions at BHS but a freeze on transports last spring meant fewer animals at the shelter.

Gizmo’s perfect match

“One of our greatest success stories this year was with a 4-year old lab mix named Gizmo,” said Ravenscraft.  

Gizmo was brought to BHS in March as a result of his owner moving. Gizmo didn’t adapt to kennel life very well and had a hard time warming up to new people. Enter Darlene. She’d recently lost two labs of her own and was finally ready to rebuild her pet family. When she saw Gizmo’s picture on the website she thought, ‘He’s so homely he’s cute! That’s the dog I think I really want.’ 

Darlene went to the shelter and asked to visit with Gizmo. The staff warned Darlene that he may take a little while to warm up to her, which did not phase her one bit. When Gizmo came into the visitation room Darlene kneeled down to greet him and he promptly began licking her face, Ravenscraft recalled. The meeting further proved Darlene’s instinct to be true. The pair were meant to be. Gizmo has since been to the groomer and his personality as a lovebug has completely emerged, greeting guests in their home with warmth and enthusiasm. His favorite things are snoozing on the couch, chasing tennis balls and eating Pupperoni snacks. 

Roxy finds her forever home

Unlike Gizmo, Roxy’s adoption story took more time to unfold into a happy ending. She first arrived at BHS in 2013 because her owner discovered the family had an allergy to cats. Roxy was then adopted right away but again changed owners at least once outside of BHS because she was returned to the shelter in February by someone other than her adopter on record, again citing allergies. Roxy stayed with BHS for until fall to undergo significant dental work and the removal of an oral mass. In September, a family brought her home again only to return with her soon after. In October, Roxy was lovingly adopted. 

“This is the kind of story that seems sad at first glance and certainly Roxy has had more than her fair share of inconsistency,” said Ravenscraft. “But the important thing to remember is that these are exactly the kinds of animals we are here for. We would much rather they be returned to us for safekeeping so that health issues can be addressed and the right match can be made.” 

Ravenscraft reminds pet-owners, if anyone is ever wondering if they’re doing the right thing by surrendering an animal for any reason, they should give themselves a break.  

Behind the scenes

To assist in prioritizing animals and making the adoption process a smooth one, BHS also completed a renovation this year. Post-construction, Ravenscraft notes BHS added 20 behind-the-scenes cat kennels and improved the HVAC system, which helped reduce the rate of upper respiratory infections in cats, a highly contagious illness  known to be a problem for shelters. One of the greatest celebrations during construction was the removal of the incinerator, which had not been used in many years. 

“The room that once housed the incinerator is now the room where all of our transport animals are welcomed to the building,” said Ravenscraft. “What once was a room of sadness is now a symbol of hope and new beginnings.”

Community Support

Not only are such expansions reliant on the support of the community, but much of the day-to-day operations are made possible because of the generosity of others. In a typical year, fundraisers like the annual Paws on Parade would help BHS sustain costs, but because the typical in-person platform could not be utilized in 2020, there was a significant decrease in money raised. Still, there are donation stories serving as a reminder that the spirit of helping animals is stronger than ever.

Most recently, a 6-year old boy named Ryker sent BHS a hand-decorated package complete with bright colors and marked: “PAWSOME BOX.” Inside was a variety of treats and toys for cats and dogs. Ryker began raising money last year to send these boxes to shelters and rescues all over New England and BHS was one of the lucky recipients.

Over the summer, 8-year-old Audrey and 5-year-old Landen hosted a lemonade stand during their parent’s yard sale and used their profits to buy supplies for BHS.

Ravenscraft said the staff is also inspired by the letters that accompany donations, usually filled with gratitude for the BHS team. These letters are hung up in the staff common areas so if ever anyone is having a ‘2020 moment,’ they can return here and read the good they are doing.

 “We continue to be amazed by the responsiveness and generosity of people in this area,” said Ravenscraft. “As soon as we put up a post on social media looking for blankets or pet food, it arrives seemingly by the truckload. We are moved daily by the love and care from the folks in our region in regard to the animals we serve. But the gratitude goes both ways, which is both profound and motivational.”

See this Section as it appeared in print here

Shelter Wish List

Interested in donating items to the Bangor Humane Society? Here’s what they are most in need of:

Animal Care Supplies

  • Canned dog & cat food
  • Full-sized blankets/sheets for dog kennels (new or used)
  • Baby blankets/pillowcases/scraps of fleece and fabric for cat kennels (new or used)
  • Soft cat & dog beds
  • Towels/washcloths (new or used)
  • Small animal food (rabbit, guinea pig, rat/mouse, hamster/gerbil, ferret, birds) and Timothy hay
  • Small animal litter pans
  • Kitten Milk Replacement (KMR)
  • Canned baby food (meat based)
  • Pet nursing bottles
  • Wood pellets (for litter)
  • Traditional kitty litter for foster care
  • Small animal bedding
  • Sturdy cat travel carriers
  • Disposable PPE (surgical caps, gowns and booties)

(Note: all BHS dogs and cats are fed Hill’s Science Diet dry food, however, any brand of dry food is greatly appreciated for our pet food pantry.)

Enrichment Supplies

  • Soft dog treats
  • Dog & cat toys
  • Soft dog treats
  • Cat treats
  • Rawhides/dog bones
  • Shoe boxes & plastic containers for cat hide-aways
  • KONG & treat dispensing toys
  • Paper lunch bags
  • Wood sticks & chew toys for small animals
  • Cinnamon spice
  • Peanut butter & squeeze cheese

Shelter Supplies

  • Clorox bleach
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clorox cleaning wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Windex
  • 13 gal. + 55 gal. trash bags
  • Paper towels

Office Supplies

  • Dry-erase markers
  • High-lighters
  • Binder clips