Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maine's newest shelter is freakin awesome

The Animal Refuge League in Westbrook Maine has been run out of a building that was built in 1956. It functioned but it was beyond time to upgrade. For years they have been working on their upgrade; raising funds, making plans, construction.

Last week they closed for a few days while they moved into the new building and opened to the public on the day after Thanksgiving.  I stopped by on Sunday to take a look around and was lucky to run into someone who gave me the full tour. They still aren't fully moved in but I was still moved to tears about how amazing this place is.

The sign as I drove up

This is the entrance to the facility. I didn't take a photo of the lobby because there were two employees right there and I felt a little silly doing it.  Once you walk through the doors you are in a great room that is pretty barren save for the reception/adoption area in the back. This seems like a great space that will have a lot of function, especially on busy days. to the right is a room where they house the small animals. You can see the cages through the small windows.

To the left is the cat area. You go through a door and you are in another large room that is surrounded by rooms and three large display cages. In the middle of that room, they have some stackable cages for kitties that need a more enclosed space.

Cages in the center of the room. 
They have access ports that can be opened or closed.

Three larger single cages with trees. I bet these would be good for bonded pairs
You can see the lobby behind them.

Two "get acquainted" rooms, so you can sit down one on one with a kitty

If you look to the left you can see another sign. It is next to a door that leads to a galley-like kitchen area where they do cat food prep. Yes, the cats have their own food prep area.. let me repeat that, the cats have their own food prep area..  and no, I did not cry.. 

The first photo is the first cat room and the next two were from the second. These are communal rooms that each have a sliding glass door out to a 'catio' area that is enclosed with a mesh so the cats can get a lot of fresh air. That white block in the lower right corner is a cat door so on days they don't want to have the large doors open the cats can still go in and out. Didn't cry over that either.. really :)

Some of the kitties available for adoption.

This was really awesome. This is a hose and control system for cleaning. If you were to take a closer look at the knobs you would see they have the ability to use hot water. These things are everywhere in the shelter. 

There is a third cat room, also with a catio that I didn't get photos of. I also love how each of these rooms has shelves and perches so the cats can get up off the floor but not so high up that a person can not interact with them.  The first cat room also has a 'tree' consisting of several large platforms that look sturdy enough for several people to sit on. And in the most inspired act, if you ask me, is the room where they hold kittens waiting for adoption is on the far end of the cat area so people have to walk past adoptable cats to get there.
At this point, I met up with one of the employees and she took me for a full tour of the facility. I saw the cat food prep area, the area where they have multiple smaller rooms filled with cat cages. Each pod is separate so if they have an outbreak of a contagion they can keep the cats isolated. We also saw numerous bathrooms. They are everywhere, absolutely everywhere, which I can only imagine is such a relief as often they are an afterthought.

Look at the amazing classroom they have for humane education! Look at it! Do you need tissues?

In a quieter section of the facility, they have 'new guest' rooms for both cats and dogs. This allows cats, who might need a little time to adjust, to be able to chill out. If you look closely there is a guest checked in. I love how most of these rooms have their own sinks.

Their commercial laundry facilities. They have two washers and two dryers. I was told they were super speedy. In the next room, they had the commercial dishwasher that also cleans the metal litter pans. It washes and disinfects in about a minute.. A MINUTE!  *hands out tissues*

They have a dog washing room that has a built up floor so if there is a spill it won't go into the hallway. Their intake area is housed in a completely separate area of the building. If you look at the first photo again it is actually on the left side of the building and it uses the same entrance as the spay neuter clinic... which has... get this.. an automatic door!!

The dog area was awesome too. The kennels were in a giant room and they backed up to a hallway that gave access to the kennels from the back as well as their front facing door. That hallway is enclosed so if you have a dog that likes to bolt, they would be contained. They had more get acquainted rooms for people who might want to sit down with a dog. They had multiple outside areas so the dogs could be let off leash to run - including the dogs that aren't available... all with astroturf.

They have an amazing conference area that is one giant room that they built in sound dampening which was awesome.   I might just have to break out a thesaurus if I want to continue to tell you how awesome this is.

I will share the sign as I was leaving.. 

I don't see an official announcement of the number of animals adopted, but I thought I heard someone say there was only one dog left and I saw that there was probably a dozen cats.


  1. I have been hearing amazing things about it! Need to go soon and see for myself! (Grabs tissue)

  2. WOW! That is SO amazing! I wish every shelter was this nice.

  3. So much thought went into this. And love. Clearly, lots of love.

  4. Wow, just wow! I hope that when our new local shelter is built (property was purchased almost ten years ago, but there are signs it might finally happen), they look at shelters like this as a model of doing it right. What a well-thought-out facility.

  5. OMG. I am soooo very jealous. The hoses! The laundry (we just had to order a new -- ordinary -- washer/dryer). And this: "the room where they hold kittens waiting for adoption is on the far end of the cat area so people have to walk past adoptable cats to get there." Inspired. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Wow! I love how each new shelter that is built seems to be building on the ideas from previous shelters plus adding great new ideas. "My" shelter has some of these but the building is repurposed so there is only so much you can do. Drooling at the commercial washer and dryer though! :-)

  7. WOW! That shelter is awesome! We only wish all shelters could be like this one.

  8. O!M!G! That is amazing....that is facility we all want for our shelters.

  9. That place must be enormous! That is so wonderful to have all that room for the varied needs of the animals that wind up there! I especially love the catios with the cat doors!

  10. That is an incredible facility. Yay for shelter kits and doggies. While your temporary digs is awesome, we hope kits and doggies don't stay there long and get their furever homes quickly.

    Emma and Buster

  11. I am so glad the CATS got some concern during the renovations. Love the steps/climbing areas in the communal rooms.

  12. What a nice looking place

  13. WOW! Just amazing! Let's all hope they all find forever homes!

  14. Thanks for sharing the new shelter with us! When you mentioned the new building I hoped it would include a catio.

  15. Very nice! Our local Humane Society has been fundraising for years and I believe they are getting close to construction. I don't dare go to the shelter though as I'd probably come home with another cat.

    I hope their new space is as lovely and well thought as the Westbrook Maine.

  16. What a wonderful shelter! It's so bright and clean for the animals awaiting their furever homes!

  17. That does look like an amazing place.

  18. Wow! That shelter is amazing!


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