A line of more than 20 people formed outside the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland on Tuesday morning, about an hour before the shelter usually opens.

While lines of humans forming outside the Westbrook shelter are unusual, the circumstances that drew so many people to the facility Tuesday were out of the ordinary.

Inside were four cute puppies and two adult dogs that became available for adoption after Buxton police removed 18 dogs from a man’s house on Chicopee Road last week. Police seized the dogs after receiving complaints about the dogs’ living conditions.

By the end of Tuesday, all of the puppies – Bruno, Baxter, Babs and Beyonce – had been placed with families. The adult dogs, Maggie and Riley, also got homes.

Jeana Roth, spokeswoman for the Animal Refuge League, said each family that adopted a dog got counseling about a range of issues, from whether the puppy has been potty-trained to socializing the dog and using a leash on an animal that has never worn one.

“We want these adoptions to be long-lasting, hopefully pets for life,” Roth said.

Roth said the remaining 12 dogs that were taken from the Buxton home – four puppies and eight adults – will be made available for adoption later. The puppies are just two weeks old and are still nursing. They have been placed in what the shelter calls foster homes, where families volunteer to train and socialize the dogs for a certain period of time.

“They need to get used to living in a typical home environment,” Roth said. None of the dogs that was seized by police had ever been outside the Buxton home.

Buxton police have charged the dogs’ owner with one count of animal cruelty, but are not releasing the person’s name. Police Chief Michael Grovo could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Buxton’s Animal Control Officer Adam Ricci told WCSH-TV, “These people are not ill-intentioned, they’re not trying to be harmful to their animals, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken out of it, is there’s a mental illness component that goes along with it.”

In a press release, Buxton police said they got a complaint Aug. 26 about conditions in the home. The next day, the town’s health officer found what police are describing as “inhumane conditions.”

“The situation appeared to be from the overall number of dogs being kept at the residence and their continued breeding due to not being spayed or neutered,” the police department said on Facebook.

Roth said the influx of 18 dogs put a strain on the shelter’s resources, but the community can help by donating money, dog toys and food, or dog beds. Donations can be made on the Animal Refuge League’s website at www.arlgp.org.

The Animal Refuge League is in the midst of a campaign to raise funds for a new facility on its current property on Stroudwater Street in Westbrook. According to its website, the shelter has raised $4.8 million toward the construction of a 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The campaign’s goal is $6.5 million.

The Animal Refuge League provides temporary shelter for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and small critters such as guinea pigs.

Roth said the shelter plans to hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the end of this month. The new facility, which will take about a year to build, will be called the Arthur P. Girard Adoption Center.

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