A family has given up 33 animals, including chinchillas, ducks and a pygmy goat, to the Humane Society Waterville Area in what Executive Director Lisa Smith called a case of good intentions gone bad.
With recent cold weather, Smith said, the family brought the animals into their Clinton mobile home from outside and became overwhelmed.
They surrendered the animals Tuesday and Wednesday, Clinton Animal Control Officer Chris Martinez said.
“I got nine ducks, five rabbits, eight cats, two ferrets, two chinchillas, and a pygmy goat, and three parakeets and three finches,” he said. “They were all in the house except for the rabbits. The rabbits were outdoors. They weren’t in the best living conditions, but they were all healthy.”
Martinez took most of the animals from the home Tuesday and the rest Wednesday and took them to the Waterville shelter.
He said no charges were brought against the family of three, a woman and her two sons, who voluntarily signed over the animals, which were in good condition.
“They contacted me and I came out and we talked to them and looked at the conditions and asked if they wanted to surrender the animals,” Martinez said. “I think they were getting overwhelmed with what they had and weren’t able to properly house them and keep them and give them the care that they needed.
“It was a very emotional thing for them and they didn’t want them to go, but they knew it was the best thing.”
The case is an example of how residents who are struggling to care for animals can seek help from local shelters, law enforcement and town officials, Smith said. The family initially contacted the town, which put them in touch with the code enforcement officer, who looked at the home. Martinez was given the case.
Most of the animals were in cages, and while some had minor health problems, such as fleas, they are for the most part in decent health, Smith said.
She said residents should know that the shelter wants to work with people who feel overwhelmed or unable to care for their animals and that people should not be afraid of being charged or fined when they seek help.
“I’d like people to recognize that when they do have too many animals, the humane society is a good option for helping them find new homes,” she said. “All over the state of Maine, humane societies have been able to make an impact in reducing the number of unwanted animals and re-home them with people who do have a place for them.”
Late winter and early spring is typically a slow time for animal shelters, which often get influxes of pets in the summer, Smith said. She said now is a good time for people who are looking for help to contact a shelter.
A majority of shelter populations consists of cats, which typically breed in the summer or fall.
“We’ll be bursting at the seams in June, July and August, so right now we have plenty of time, energy and resources to accommodate animals,” Smith said. “We’d be more than happy to work with anyone who has found themselves in a similar situation (to the Clinton case).”
Many cases of animals living in crowded conditions arise after the animals breed and the owners can’t find homes for the offspring, Smith said. An easy remedy is for people to get animals spayed and neutered.
She said many programs in Maine provide financial support for spaying and neutering. Residents can contact shelters about low-income spay and neuter programs or look into programs such as Help Fix ME; the People and Animals Together, or PAT, program; and the Animal Welfare Society’s Cleo Fund.
The Waterville shelter also offers vouchers that can help cover the cost to city residents of spaying and neutering.
Martinez agreed that if animal owners can’t care for the animals, they should let someone know.
“Nobody should be afraid or ashamed to contact anybody for help,” he said. “That’s what the humane society is there for, and that’s what the animal control officer is there for as well.”
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
Amy Calder — 861-9247