Animals We Accept

The Animal Welfare Society is an open-admission shelter. Each year, we receive and care for more than 3,600 homeless animals. Each of these animals is provided with professional, loving and humane care. This includes proper housing, a healthy diet, veterinary care, grooming, obedience, socialization and kindness.

Animals come to the shelter in four predominant ways:

1. Shelter Contracts with Towns: The shelter contracts with 21 different municipalities to accept their stray or abandoned animals. Animal Control Officers from these towns have 24-hour access to the shelter. Strays are held for a state-mandated holding period, and every effort is made to reunite the animal with its owner. Reports of lost and found animals are kept on file. If a stray animal’s owner is not found or the animal is not claimed by its owner, every effort is made to place the animal in a new home.

AWS contracts with the following towns:

Acton, Alfred, Arundel, Biddeford, Dayton, Hollis, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Lebanon, Limerick, Limington, Lyman, Newfield, North Berwick, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Sanford, Shapleigh, Waterboro, Wells

If your town is not on this list, call your town hall or police department to see with whom your town has contracted.

Stray dogs are held for six days, as ordered by state law. On the seventh day, they become property of AWS and we begin the process of readying the dog for adoption.

Stray cats are held for a state-mandated period of 24 hours. After this time, they become the property of AWS and we begin the process of readying the cat for adoption.

2. Owner Surrender: The shelter accepts any domestic and some exotic animals that an owner can no longer care for, as long as the owner resides in one of our 21 contracted towns. We are unable to accept livestock, wild birds or other wildlife. For wildlife cases, please contact the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine, for assistance at (207) 361-1400.

AWS understands that surrendering a pet can be a stressful and unhappy decision to make. We try to make the process as easy as possible with a secure and private surrender area, clear and concise forms, and a caring, supportive staff.

We do charge a surrender fee to help care for the animal while they’re at the shelter. The fees are as follows:

  • Puppies and Dogs: $50  (litters of 3 or more puppies capped at $125)
  • Kittens less than 6 months: $15 (litters of 5 or more kittens capped at $65)
  • Cats 7 months and older: $25
  • All other companion animals: $25 each (litters and multi-animal intakes of small animals, $25 for one and $5 for each additional)

3. Cruelty or Neglect Cases: The shelter works closely with state Animal Welfare Program officials and local animal control officers to provide housing and veterinary care for animals confiscated due to neglect or abuse. The staff actively assists these officers by providing care for the animals, and if necessary, sworn testimony on the animal’s condition to be used in court.

4. Transfer Animals through our PAWS Across America Program: More than 4,000 animals have been adopted since 2002 through this innovative and lifesaving program.