AUGUSTA — As construction continues toward a hopeful November completion of a spacious new animal shelter, Kennebec Valley Humane Society officials aren’t stressing even though they’re about $1 million short of a $8 million fundraising goal to pay for it.

That’s thanks in part to a recent additional pledge that local car dealership founder Charlie Shuman, a board member of the Augusta-based humane society, recently made at a board meeting to match any new donations to the project, up to $1 million.

Officials hope that pledge from Charlie and Nancy Shuman and their family — which is in addition to the $2.5 million they’ve already given to help pay for construction — will help encourage people to come through with donations.

Humane Society officials say the project would provide a much-needed new shelter for cats, dogs and other homeless pets, and that it’s designed to lessen the stress on the animals that make it their temporary home.

The new facility is expected to be ready in November. Officials said they didn’t feel they could wait for the entire $8 million needed to build and outfit the new facility to be raised before making a move, as construction costs escalated and the stress placed on animals at their outdated facility continued.

“We’ve known the current facility we’re in is not a sustainable option for us; it’s plagued with HVAC issues, the building is outdated, crowded, it’s stressful for our animals and we knew we had to make a change,” said Hillary Roberts, executive director of Kennebec Valley Humane Society, which takes in homeless animals from numerous surrounding communities at its current Pet Haven Lane facility, just off Western Avenue. “We do amazing work. We place 97% of our animals. But our current space doesn’t reflect that and is just not sustainable.”


Cats available for adoption are seen through a window Thursday at the current Kennebec Valley Humane Society building on Pet Have Lane in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The new, 19,000 square-foot facility under construction on 77 acres of former farmland off Leighton Road will be of a modern design meant to reduce the stress on shelter animals. That includes more space for the animals themselves including, for cats, a major upgrade from the 2-by-2-foot kennels where they live now.

While the new shelter will still have individual, though larger, traditional kennels for cats that need to be by themselves, it will also have three, 12-by-16-foot community cat rooms, where six to 10 cats and kittens can roam freely and have what Roberts said is “a more normal cat life experience.”

It will also have dedicated space for pocket pets, such as gerbils, hamsters and ferrets, and larger dog kennels with low windows so the dogs can see outside.

The additional space will allow increased capacity to comfortably house about 75 dogs, up from 40 to 50 at the current location, and 150 cats, up from 100 now.

The new facility is also being built with community and clinic space where officials hope to offer some veterinary services, such as spay and neuter clinics, training, preventative pet care, deworming, and other services they can’t provide at their current, 12,000-square-foot building built in the 1960s.

“The clinic is really an exciting part of the new facility for us, we see, every day, animals that have had really limited access to, or no, vet care,” Roberts said. “So we want to provide low-cost services in our new facility, including to owned pets.”


The exterior view is seen Thursday of the Nancy Shuman Shelter being built for Kennebec Valley Humane Society on Leighton Road in Augusta. Shelter officials are hopeful the facility will be open in November. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

If fundraising brings in more than the $8 million needed to build and outfit the new building, any additional funds will go toward paying for programming to be offered to community members, according to Roberts. She said the Shuman’s will match all new funds that come in for the project, up to $1 million. Donations may be made through the shelter’s website,

The Shumans, of Winthrop, longtime supporters of the shelter, kicked off fundraising efforts with a previous $2.5 million donation.

“Nancy and I find it deeply gratifying to be able to donate funds to a cause so near our hearts,” Charlie Shuman said in a news release. “We love animals and believe this community must come together to support the needs of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society. Every time I look into the eyes of my little rescue dog, Mac, I know that every dollar donated saves lives.”

The new facility will be called the Nancy Shuman Animal Shelter. Roberts said other naming opportunities within the shelter are still available to donors.

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