Mikayla Sproul, shelter manager at the Somerset Humane Society, leads a tour Friday of the facility at 123 Middle Road in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — An aging building, cramped conditions and severe limitations on the number of animals it can accept have prompted the Somerset Humane Society to launch an effort to build a new shelter within the next two years.

The Somerset County Commissioners recently jumpstarted the effort by allocating $250,000 toward a new building. County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said the shelter at 123 Middle Road in Skowhegan cannot accommodate the demand for animal services or shelter.

Bonnie Brooks, the humane society’s operations manager, said she is grateful for the support, although it came as a surprise.

“I think we applied for some funding last year — $10,000 — to just generally assist with medical costs, which (the commissioners) did grant us,” Brooks said. “But we didn’t actually apply for this. They’re just gifting it to us, which is wonderful.”

The shelter was built in 1983 and serves 32 towns across Somerset County.

“A lot of people don’t know we’re here, and then, when they hear how many towns we actually serve, they’re kind of blown away because we are so small,” Brooks said. “But we do our best.”


She said the shelter is “full to the max.” It only has nine dog kennels, which Brooks said fill quickly with strays brought in by animal control officers.

That means the facility is not an “open admission” shelter, and often people who call in to surrender their pets are turned away.

“We would like to be able to help people more in that capacity,” Brooks said.

She said she has been getting an increasing number of calls from people who are finding it difficult to get housing that allows pets, leading them to give up their animals.

“It’s very stressful to have to turn down those people,” Brooks said. “We can’t even help them out by at least giving their pet a safe place to be, and the possibility of rehoming.”

Another draw of a new building would be to finally have an in-house veterinary clinic.


“People are having a hard time getting into regular vet clinics right now,” Brooks said.

The Somerset Humane Society at 123 Middle Road in Skowhegan. The building is aging, too small and no longer sufficient for the society’s operations. An effort is underway to raise money for a new, larger shelter. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

A traveling veterinarian for several years has come in to the shelter on occasion to help spay and neuter animals, Brooks said, but because the Somerset Humane Society does not have “an actual clinical setup,” the veterinarian can only treat cats, not dogs.

And when the veterinarian comes to the shelter, the facility must close for the day because she has no other option than to conduct her work in the front office area.

Although the Somerset Humane Society receives grant funding to help offset the cost of the limited treatments it offers, Brooks said she hopes it will eventually offer basic veterinary care for low-income pet owners and clinical services, such as vaccinations and flea treatments.

Mikayla Sproul, shelter manager at the Somerset Humane Society, looks down a row of dog kennels Friday at the facility at 123 Middle Road in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Brooks said the animal shelter in Skowhegan had its land surveyed last year for a new building and, ideally, the new shelter would be built behind the current one.

She said she did not have an estimate on the cost of such a project. The society first needs to hire an architect to design plans for a new facility.

Brooks said she is “feeling really encouraged” after hearing of the money the county has allocated for the project.

The investment is a solid foundation, Brooks said, from which the society can begin campaigning and fundraising to raise the rest of the money that will be needed.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story