WESTBROOK — The sun had not yet risen Thursday when Jodi McCaffrey made the short walk to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland to write her name on the list of prospective adopters taped to the door.

The Westbrook woman had been thinking about adding a second dog to her family when she heard the first group of collies seized last month from a kennel in Solon were ready for adoption. McCaffrey knew there’d be a lot of interest in the seven dogs looking for new homes Thursday and was happy her name was first on the list to meet the puppies.

When the doors opened at 11 a.m., close to 50 people crowded into the lobby to wait for a chance to meet the dogs. McCaffrey made her way to a small meeting room to talk with an adoption counselor about Falkirk, a 4-month-old male, rough-coat collie with an exuberant personality and fondness for treats.

The connection was instant.

“Oh, you are lovely,” McCaffrey said as the fluffy tan and white puppy pressed against her knees.


Falkirk was one of the more than 130 animals seized in July from R-N-D Kennels in Solon, where owner Donna Noyes had been breeding rough-coat collies since 2004.

Noyes is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 11 on animal cruelty charges. She has surrendered her breeding kennel license, but will be able to keep several animals, said Liam Hughes, director of Maine’s animal welfare program.

The dogs, cats, chickens and horses taken by animal welfare workers were in need of “urgent care,” officials said at the time.

“The conditions were very poor,” Hughes told the Boston Globe last month. “A lot of (the animals) needed a lot more attention than what they were getting. … Most of the dogs are kind of in a state of shock.”

Hughes said the owner of the Solon kennel “was overwhelmed and she got lost in how many animals she had.”

“This was an extraordinary situation we’ve been working on for quite a while to get under control,” he said. “We had to take the action of stepping in and removing animals for their safety.”


After the seizure, the state set up an emergency shelter in Dixfield, which will close within days when the last 19 dogs are transferred to other shelters or foster homes for further care. It was the first time since 2007 that state welfare officials had to set up an emergency shelter to deal with a large seizure.

Hughes said Thursday that much of the equipment used at the shelter in Dixfield was last used in 2007 after 250 dogs were rescued from a Buxton puppy mill in what remains the largest seizure ever in Maine.

Last month, emergency response teams from Cumberland, Oxford and York counties and shelters across the state stepped in to help with the animals from Solon.

The Animal Refuge League received 55 dogs and one cat that were taken into state custody in Solon. Two litters of puppies were born this week to dogs that had been seized and the shelter is expecting eight more dogs to arrive this week from the temporary shelter in Dixfield.

The animals ranged from newborns to some that were more than 10 years old and had substantial medical needs, said Jeana Roth, director of community engagement at the Animal Refuge League. One animal has a heart condition and another is in need of a $1,200 orthopedic surgery. Dogs arrived with conditions such as conjunctivitis, intestinal viruses and anemia. Many also needed to be groomed and have dental extractions.

Because the dogs lived in confinement before they were rescued, most have been learning to do things for the first time, including walking on leashes, climbing stairs, playing with toys and living in a home setting, Roth said. Most of the dogs were not housebroken.


The Animal Refuge League received help from Collie Rescue of New England, Collie Club of Maine and Maine Sheltie Rescue with foster care, volunteers and placement of collies with specialized behavioral needs. By the time the first seven dogs were ready for adoption Thursday, the shelter had fielded many inquiries from people interested in adopting the collies and dobermans from Solon.

In the minutes before the shelter opened for the day, several dozen people lined up at the front door. Some watched through a fence as 10-year-old Fluffer Nutter explored a dog yard.

“To see a group this large this early is a response to the situation and the community wanting to help,” Roth said.

Among the first to arrive was Cindy Allen of Portland, who came with her puppy Tripp and 9-year-old grandson Colby Hodgkins. Allen adopted Tripp from the refuge league two months ago and thought he needed a “play pal.” When she spotted a photo of a 2-month-old collie named Duncan, she made sure to arrive at the shelter hours before it opened and didn’t hesitate to adopt her.

“I fell right in love with Duncan’s face,” she said. “She and Tripp get along really well. He was trying to let her know he’s the man.”

As McCaffrey met Falkirk for the first time, adoption counselor Lisa Ivy explained the puppy’s background to make sure McCaffrey understood his needs. Falkirk can be overly exuberant and has shown a tendency to guard his food and treats, but also responds to correction, Ivy said.

“He’s a special little butterfly,” she said.

McCaffrey, who has an Italian greyhound named Emmett and three Persian cats, said she was confident she’d be able to handle Falkirk’s needs and plans to enroll him in training classes. After filling out paperwork, going over Falkirk’s medical history and posing for a new family photo, it was time to go.

“All right, let’s go, lovey,” McCaffrey said softly to her puppy as they headed home.

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