AUGUSTA — Being in the doghouse doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

While it may lack creature comforts like air conditioning or a king-sized bed, one thing not missing from Robert Haley’s house for the next few days is companionship.

Haley, the former local radio personality Roadhouse Lou, is sharing a kennel for about 76 hours until Thursday morning with Max and Scooby at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society to raise money and awareness for the organization’s second chances program.

“It’s more like a 3-room suite,” Haley joked while laying on a makeshift bed with sleeping bags and pillows next to one of his two friendly Rottweiler mix kennel mates. “And it’s all for a good cause.”

Haley, a retired Army veteran who has been involved with the shelter for about 30 years and once served as its executive director, said the shelter does such important work that deserves to be recognized. As any non-profit, it’s funding comes from private donations so he’s hoping to raise as much money as possible to help provide medical care to animals from the community who desperately need it.

His home for the next few nights would never be mistaken for a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons resort with plush linens and five-star luxury amenities. The shelter has an interior space with offices and desks and individual kennels with cats hoping to be adopted. Through a glass door, there’s a large concrete space divided into individual areas for the shelters dogs — Max, Scooby and Lily — and a faint smell that one might describe just as “dog.”

But it doesn’t matter to Haley. His love of animals started at a young age when he used to ride his family German Shepherd as a toddler. He is at home with the dogs and the shelter staff, and the cause is important enough to him to sacrifice being in his own home for a couple of nights.

“It’s a different type of insight when you’ve been in here for three or four days,” he said while talking to a couple interested in adopting an animal.

He said the shelter has changed dramatically since he started three decades ago.

“The biggest change that I’ve seen is the wonderful success of community outreach and education,” he said. Haley said the spay and neuter program has decreased the number of unwanted animals in this community, and the numbers of animals coming into the shelter is considerably less.

“We ensure that all the animals leave here spayed or neutered,” he said. “It decreases the unwanted pet population and allows (the staff) to focus more of their resources on getting dogs like Max in fine shape so it can find its forever home.”

The advent of social media and the use of technology has been a big change too, Haley said. Because people all over the country follow what happens at this shelter, they’re able to reach a lot more people than they could when word of mouth and handmade fliers were their main tools of communication.

While the shelter takes in plenty of normal strays or animals surrendered by their owners, they occasionally receive animals in need of extra care, including expensive medical care because of injury, abuse or neglect, and emotional training. The organization set up a fund to specifically provide for these treatments, and all the money Haley raises will go toward that cause.

Haley used to do remote broadcasts for local radio stations and he’s broadcasting live with Townsquare Media outside in front of the car wash on Western Avenue from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day. Despite the heat and humidity — both outside and inside the kennel — Haley said whatever challenges he may face will be worth it to raise a lot of money.

He’s encouraging anybody, whether you’re looking for a new pet or not, to come by and pay him a visit and to check out all the great work being done by the shelter’s staff and volunteers.

Ann Wilson, of Gardiner, was in the area and heard an advertisement on 92 Moose and decided to visit. She said she typically doesn’t like big dogs so she might not go close enough to talk to Haley, but she wanted him to know his hard work and dedication to animals was appreciated.

“I grew up always having dogs and cats around, and places like this that don’t seek the limelight for all the work they do, they are the ones making all the difference in the community,” Wilson said. “They do so much for strays and abandoned animals and they also do a lot for owners and prospective owners to educate and give them a sense of what it’s like to own a dog or cat.

“They can really change a person or family’s life.”

Indeed, executive director Hillary Roberts said, the shelter works with people to explain to them why owning a certain breed of dog or type of cat would or wouldn’t work. Not everybody should own a pit bull and not everyone is equipped physically, financially or emotionally to take on the responsibilities that come with pet ownership.

“There are very well-intentioned people who sometimes end up over their head, so they turn to us,” Roberts said. “We’re really doing all we can to help everyone.”

Haley hopes to get about five hours of sleep each night, that is, if Lily, another Rottweiler mix in a kennel around the corner could stop barking. The three-room kennel has one main living space and two other areas with concrete floors that the dogs can lay on to cool down. He didn’t say if he’d use the space for the same reason if he gets overheated, but he did promise that while he isn’t planning on showering, he does have a change of clothes for each day.

“Unless (the dogs complain), then I’m not going to shower because I’m going to do this as true as possible” he said. “Some people go rafting or skydiving for their vacation adventure, but this is mine.”

There are people bringing breakfast sandwiches and food and water throughout the day, so he isn’t concerned about food. His main concern is the heat and humidity.

Roberts said animal shelters have changed greatly in the last several decades. She said some people unfortunately have pre-conceived notions about animal shelters, including that they euthanize animals after a certain amount of time or that the living conditions are poor. She said people in the community ask her how she could work in a place that’s “so sad.”

“I feel like it’s a place of hope, because we make brand new families every single day,” said Roberts of the organization, which has a 96 percent placement rate. “It’s a place where lives are saved and families are created, and it’s such a positive place to be.”

Haley will be at the shelter, at 10 Pet Haven Lane in Augusta, until 9 a.m. Thursday morning. Donations are being accepted at the shelter or online at

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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