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 Animal Welfare Society supports and encourages pet owners to find a solution to re-homing their pets rather than choose relinquishment to a shelter as the first option.  Pets that can safely be managed, trained, re-homed, or otherwise cared for by their current owners will ensure that valuable resources and cage spaces are used for as many at risk & in need animals as possible who have no immediate owner.  We offer obedience training classes and behavior support via our Behavior Helpline.  We can also offer suggestions and help steer pet owners in the direction of other resources that may be of help in finding a solution.

If you need to surrender a pet.

The AWS accepts surrendered pets on a case by case basis.  Please call the shelter at 207-985-3244 and you will be asked a few brief questions about the pet you wish to re-home.  Our surrender co-ordinator will then call you back for more specific information.   Most callers will be placed on our appointment list.  Once your pet is approved to be accepted for surrender, you will be called to make arrangements for you to bring your pet to the shelter.  Acceptance usually takes place between 1 and 14 days, though some cases may take much longer, depending on many variables.  We maintain this list to help us best utilize available cage space and other resources to operate most efficiently for the benefit of all the animals in our care.  We review this list at least 4 times a week if not daily and keep in touch with you. 

*AWS reserves the right to choose which animals we can accept and in some cases we may refer callers to other agencies and/or give other suggestions to help facilitate re-homing the pet.  Placement on the appointment list does not guarantee acceptance.

Please be aware that our surrender services carry significant cost for our shelter and there is a surrender fee due at the time you drop off your pet.  These fees are important part of our operation and help provide food, supplies, housing & medical care for your pet(s) while they are with us.  Please refer to the fee schedule below.

Donations in addition to these fees help support AWS and all the great work we do every day.  We usually have approximately 130 animals in the building at any given time! Please consider making an additional contribution to help.

  • 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*
  • Reptiles* & amphibians:  $50-$150 each**

* For multi-animal:  small rodents, 1st rodent is $25, followed by $10 each for each additional pet.  Litters of unweaned guinea pigs & rabbits, 1st animal is $25,  followed by $10 for each additional pet

**Pets of this type are not commonly accepted due to the complexities of their care and difficulty finding appropriate long-term placement in adoptive homes.

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: Nearly 5,000 animals have been adopted since 2002 through this innovative and lifesaving program.