LEWISTON — The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society is looking for a new executive director.

Director Steve Dostie did not return requests for comment Friday, but Development Director Donna Kincer said Dostie is retiring after working for the animal shelter for 38 years.

She said he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.

“It’s great for him,” Kincer said, “but GAHS is losing a valuable resource.”

She called Dostie “a walking, talking animal-welfare encyclopedia.”

Dostie is widely credited with turning a small, needy animal shelter into one of the best-known programs for stray, abused and abandoned animals in the state, with community veterinary clinics, spay/neuter programs and a thriving program that takes animals from high-kill shelters in Southern states and brings them to Lewiston for adoption. People routinely stand in line outside the animal shelter for hours with the hope of adopting one of its animals.

However, the humane society and Dostie have come under fire recently.

In March, one of the shelter’s dogs killed a Yorkshire terrier and injured two people when a potential adopter took it for a walk to a nearby apartment. The shelter had allowed the man to walk the dog he was considering adopting, but he was not supposed to take it to another building and had been told to not let it interact with other dogs.

Dostie said soon after the incident that the shelter would change its policies to restrict outside visits to a fenced-in area and limit them to 15 minutes.

Steve Dostie

In May, a former employee publicly accused shelter managers of doubling the number of dogs they deemed aggressive enough to be killed, euthanizing pets with behavior issues that could have been overcome with “a little patience and training.”

Shelter officials denied the claims. Dostie said the shelter’s policies hadn’t changed and neither had the outcomes of dogs’ assessments.

But Amanda Kimball’s Facebook post set off a social media firestorm and put the humane society in the news for the second time that spring.

Her post has been shared more than 2,000 times and has received more than 400 comments, many from people aghast at the accusations. One of the commenters was a former animal care supervisor who said some of the recently euthanized dogs had been deemed adoptable and were on the adoption floor for weeks or months before they were killed, leading her to believe the shelter was euthanizing animals for space and convenience rather than uncontrollable aggressiveness.

Calls to shelter board members about Dostie’s retirement were not returned Friday afternoon.

In a job posting to the Maine Association of Nonprofits’ job board Thursday, the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society board of directors said it is looking for a new executive director who has substantial experience, is committed to the humane care of animals and fostering the human-animal bond and who can develop a rapport with shelter staff.

They also want someone with “a proven track record of success in public relations and developing donor relationships.”

The job posting said salary will be commensurate with experience. According to the shelter’s most recent nonprofit IRS filing, Dostie earned about $70,000 in 2016-17.

The job posting set an application deadline of June 30. It is unclear when Dostie’s last day will be.

Lindsay Tice can be contacted at:

[email protected]