Susan Vaughan here. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know of my love of animals and my husband’s and my support of our local animal shelter, the Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County ( Yes, that’s a long name for an organization that saves lives and connects with families and whole communities in the Mid-Coast Maine area. Some people may think of an animal shelter as a “pound,” but for most shelters that’s far from the whole story. PMHSKC has a record of returning 83% of lost dogs to their owners and a 98% adoption rate. That’s 98% of cats and dogs who have found homes with their forever families.

Izzy skinny

Including Izzy, rescued from a porch where she was ignored and left to starve. A very sweet and loving Great Dane mix in spite of the abuse, she received care and nutrition at the shelter. A year later, Izzy has found her forever home.


An animal shelter is also a community center. Children have birthday parties there. They donate food and supplies, walk dogs, and pet cats. Families and single adults who can’t have animals because of where they live or for other reasons come to PMHSKC to experience that intangible human-animal bond.

cat as listener

I don’t know about other shelters, but PMHSKC has rescued many animals other than dogs and cats.

Black rabbit

They’ve cared for and found homes for guinea pigs, donkeys, ducks, chickens, goats, ferrets, many rabbits, one ball python, pot-bellied pigs, and a full-grown pig named Valentine.

Valentine (3)

PMHSKC began as HSKC in 1989 as only a local shelter for a small number of animals and has grown to serve over 20 communities. Grown, yes, from rescuing and adopting out about 400 animals a year ten years ago to nearly 1500 today, and has also outgrown the small original building. Due to the generosity of the Lyman Pope Foundation and 500 other donors, PMHSKC will break ground this summer to build a new shelter on the same property as the original red building. We’re excited that this new facility will provide better ventilated and larger spaces for animals and a community room for dog training, other animal education events, and those popular birthday parties.

shelter old and new

I asked the PMHSKC executive director, Tracy Sala, the most satisfying part of her job. Here’s what she said: “I’d say I get the most satisfaction when I receive a letter from an adopter thanking us for helping them find the perfect match for their family. If I’m really lucky, a picture will be included. And I’m always amazed and grateful by the outpouring of community support the shelter receives, be it a $1,000 check or the monthly gift of $2 from an anonymous donor. Both gifts are equally meaningful to me because it means something to the person giving it, and it all makes a difference in what we can do for the animals.”

Lastly, let me ask that wherever you are, please support your local animal shelter.


The first two books of the Devlin Security Force trilogy, On Deadly Ground and Ring of Truth, are available in digital and print on Amazon ( More information about my books is at

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  1. Great post, Susan. All our cats have either come from the local animal shelter or been strays. I won’t go so far as to say they appreciate a good home more–they are cats, after all–but we couldn’t have asked for better, more loving companions.


  2. Kaitlyn, thanks for the comment and for giving a home to shelter cats. Yes, cats have staff. LOL

  3. Emily Allen says:

    Great post, Susan. My two cats come form our local Human Society. I would got to any Human Society before going to a pet shop. I clicked on the link and looked at some of the cats and dogs, I feel in love with them all and wish I could adopted them all.

    • Thanks, Emily. I know what you mean about seeing the animals and wanting to adopt all. I was tempted by a sweet little black dog when I went to this shelter last week, but I knew having a second dog wouldn’t work.

      • Emily Allen says:

        It would be harder with two dogs. I would love to have a dog, but with two cats I think it would be hard. Though they don’t seem like they do okay when my aunt brings her small dog.

  4. Megan Macijauskas says:

    Great post, Susan. We adopted our Luna two years ago this month from a shelter and we love her to bits. Shelter dogs are good dogs!

  5. Marilyn Lugner says:

    Our cat Popcorn came from an animal shelter; she has an amazing purr and fits well with our family. Thanks for pointing out the expanded role that shelters can play in the community.

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