WATERVILLE — When Bethany Drouin found out that the Humane Society Waterville Area shelter might close down because of underfunding, she sprung into action. Drouin and her husband, Jamie, are avid automobile lovers. They frequent car shows in the area with their two Ford Mustangs — a 2005 convertible and a 2017 EcoBoost — but wanted to start an annual event of their own. The two were in the process of founding a new organization, Caring Cars, that would put on car shows to benefit a rotation of local nonprofits, when they heard that the Humane Society was in need.

“We weren’t really planning to do anything,” Drouin said. “We haven’t even gotten our roots yet, we’re just starting, but I saw that the Humane Society needed to raise a huge amount of money to be able to stay open and operate, so I said, ‘Let’s do it! We’re doing it.'”

Sunday marked the group’s spur-of-the-moment kickoff, which they named the Mutts & Motors Car Show. Throughout the afternoon, 44 modern, classic and antique cars lined the lawn of the Waterville Elks Lodge No. 905, while their owners relaxed and engaged with curious viewers — and dogs. Between registration fees, spectator ticket sales and raffle items, the event raised $1,200 for the shelter. Ray Haskell Ford Lincoln sponsored the show.

The Humane Society needs to come up with close to $200,000 more over the next two months in order to stay open. As of the latest count, the shelter has earned approximately $50,000 in donations, according to Communications and Outreach Director Nichole Clark. If it does not meet its $250,000 goal, 24 towns that the Webb Road facility contracts with would be affected. The Humane Society in Waterville houses approximately 2,000 animals annually, all of which would be redirected to shelters in Skowhegan or Augusta — if those facilities have space for them in the first place.

Many of the car owners who showed up at Sunday’s event are known among Waterville car enthusiasts and regularly appear at area events and group cruises.

John Ryan showed off his wife, Lana’s, 1966 MGB. The couple won the antique car at a raffle in Owl’s Head several years ago. They had entered only two tickets, for $100 each, and ended up getting lucky. Ryan, a retired A&P mechanic from Fairfield, enjoys maintaining the bright red vehicle’s inner workings.

“It’s a throwback to the old days,” Ryan said.

Although Ryan likes the car, and his wife had wanted one for a long time, the nostalgia it evokes is not always positive.

“It brings back a sad memory because a friend of mine drove a ’66 MG, and he got killed in it in high school,” Ryan said. “These things are dangerous.”

Because the model does not have seat belts, Ryan had to register it as an antique car with the state. To keep it in good condition, he tries to enjoy the vehicle without putting too many miles on it.

Bob Thing, who brought his 1983 Zimmer Golden Spirit, remembers seeing one of the cars for the first time in Florida over two decades ago. He had, for 10 years, been the only Golden Spirit owner in Maine. Around 2010, he lost those bragging rights, but noted that the model is still an unique find in the state.

“People tell me I’m different, so I might as well have something different,” Thing said.

The Humane Society will run a series of fundraising events over the next couple of months in an attempt to meet its financial goal. Next week, there are several dine-to-donate nights planned at area restaurants, including one at The Red Barn in Augusta on Tuesday and at Applebee’s in Augusta on Wednesday and Panera in Augusta on Friday. On Saturday, a Blessing of the Animals fundraiser will occur at The Apple Farm in Fairfield, beginning at noon.

Meg Robbins — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @megrobbins

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