Kennebec Valley Humane Society proposes to build a new 19,000-square-foot facility on about 75 acres of land it owns at 168 Leighton Road in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A proposed new animal shelter facility would provide more and improved space for animals and the people who love them on former farmland on Leighton Road.

Kennebec Valley Humane Society officials hope to begin construction of the new $6 million shelter next spring.

“This has been a dream for a long time; seeing it become a reality is going to be amazing,” said Hillary Roberts, longtime shelter executive director. “We visited shelters throughout New England, looking at what works, and what doesn’t, so we can improve that quality of life for animals during their time with us.”

They already have about $4 million in donations committed, including a $2 million gift from longtime shelter supporters Charlie and Nancy Shuman, their family and their Augusta-based car dealer business, Charlie’s Family of Dealerships. It’s the largest gift ever received by the animal shelter, which is currently located on Pet Haven Lane off Western Avenue in Augusta.

The new facility, on about 75 acres that once was the Prime family’s farm at 168 Leighton Road in Augusta, is expected to be named the Nancy Shuman Animal Shelter.

The 19,000-square-foot facility would be significantly larger than the existing 12,000-square-foot building built in the 1960s, and also feature a modern design meant to reduce stress on shelter animals. The new shelter will also have its own veterinary clinic that would be used to treat both adoptable homeless animals and provide spaying and vaccine services to the public, a spacious community room for training and other public uses, and ample outdoor space including outdoor kennels and walking trails.


The current facility has very little outdoor space, is outdated, has infrastructure problems and kennels that are too small and close to each other. The current setup can create stress in the animals it houses, including dogs having to walk by the cat area and a lack of space for cats to be kept, other than inside their kennels. There is little space for community events they’d like to host.

A mother and son get a closer look at the German shepherd mix puppies that were up for adoption in 2011 at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta. The shelter has been located at Pet Haven Lane off Western Avenue in Augusta and is planning to move to a new facility on 75 acres that once was the Prime family’s farm at 168 Leighton Road in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The new facility’s veterinary clinic and community room will allow the shelter to expand its offerings to the community and offer spay and neuter clinics and vaccine clinics to the public, as well as animal training and even kids’ birthday parties and other events in what Roberts said will be a robust community space.

“We’re looking forward to it being both an animal shelter but also a community center,” Roberts said.

The veterinary clinic at the new site will not be staffed by a full-time veterinarian as the shelter will continue, as it does now, to have area veterinarians that work shifts at the shelter, as needed.

While the $2 million commitment from the Shumans and Charlie’s Family of Dealerships, which is starting out with the recent payment of $750,000, is the largest donation Kennebec Valley Humane Society has ever received, it is not the first from Charlie and Nancy Shuman and their adult children, Stephen Shuman and Elissa Emmons, or their family business made up of multiple brands of car dealerships in Augusta and Winthrop.

“The Shumans have been supporters for more than 25 years, as major donors, in capital campaigns, they make annual gifts, they’re advocates and leaders for this organization,” Roberts said. “But on a personal level, Charlie is on our board, and Nancy goes to Petsmart and buys things we need and fills up her van and brings it all here because they have such a heart for animals.”


Stephen Shuman, in a prepared statement, said Charlie’s Family of Dealerships was proud “to help get the project started on the new Kennebec Valley Humane Society. Charlie’s is excited to be a part of this project that will help so many animals in need.”

A public fundraising campaign is now starting to raise the remaining $2 million needed to fully fund the new shelter’s construction.

Land at 168 Leighton Road in Augusta is the proposed new home of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Roberts said fundraising efforts, as part of a campaign dubbed the “Building Happily Ever After’s Capital Campaign,” will include events, naming opportunities such as for areas of the shelter and brick pavers. Potential donors can reach out directly to her at the shelter.

The shelter’s current facility is built on land that was deeded to it by the Davis family, owners of the Pine Tree Veterinary Hospital, which is adjacent to the current facility. The humane society can’t sell the property, which will revert back to the family when the shelter moves.

The humane society purchased the Leighton Road site about two years ago, as part of its long-term plans.

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