At least a dozen dogs and cats will be up for adoption Tuesday, following a legal ruling over an aspiring animal shelter in Alfred.
In April, 50 dogs and 11 cats were seized from a home in Alfred who was seeking permission to operate a shelter.
State animal welfare officials said the home had failed multiple inspections during the licensing process, according to court documents. An order was issued Wednesday by the District Court in Springvale that turned 47 dogs and nine cats over to the state, and returned two dogs and two cats to the owners of the prospective shelter, Brenda and Jeffrey MacKenzie.
The Animal Welfare Society in Kennebunk, which had received 32 of the pets, will have seven dogs and three cats available for adoption Tuesday, according to Director of Operations and Programs Adam Ricci.
The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Westbrook, which received 15, will have seven dogs available, said Director of Community Engagement Jeana Roth. Roth said some were also sent to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Hancock County, the Somerset Humane Society and the Franklin County Animal Shelter.
Ricci said the dogs in the custody of the Animal Welfare Society are well socialized. Three have been treated for heartworm, he said.
“They’re all great candidates for adoption,” Ricci said. “We’re really looking forward to (the) next steps in their lives.”
Others will be adopted by foster families who have been helping the shelters care for them, said Ricci and Roth. One dog was euthanized a day after the seizure, said Ricci.
He said the MacKenzies have stayed engaged with the Animal Welfare Society throughout the process. Having the state return four of the pets to the owners, Ricci said, speaks to the owners’ intentions.
“They just became overwhelmed by the number of pets that they were trying to provide care to,” Ricci said. “Having a few pets returned back to them is very appropriate.”
Jeffrey MacKenzie declined to comment.
Roth Said the majority of the dogs that the Animal Refuge League took in had parasites and infections, which have since been treated. Two had heartworm disease, and one finally tested negative last week, she said.
“It was honestly really heartbreaking,” said Roth, who said she was working at the shelter when the dogs arrived. “A lot of the dogs were very thin and dehydrated. The majority of the dogs that we received had intestinal parasites and infections, so they weren’t feeling well.”
Rachel Welch, district humane agent from the state Animal Welfare Program, said a facility license was erroneously sent to the MacKenzies following their application for a license in June 2021, according to court documents. The residence didn’t pass multiple inspections conducted by the Animal Welfare Program in the following months, and some of the dogs tested positive for the highly contagious parvovirus, Welch wrote in an application and affidavit for a show-cause hearing.
In March, the Animal Welfare Program gave the MacKenzies approximately 30 days to find homes for the pets, and they returned to execute a search warrant on April 7, Welch wrote in court documents.
Of the animals that were removed, “all were found to be living in conditions that were not humanely clean, and many have health issues,” Welch wrote.
She added that there were pets kept in kennels and makeshift pens in the kitchen, in both upstairs bedrooms, a bathroom, a shed in the back of the property and a room attached to the garage. There was no food or water in many of the locations, Welch wrote, and many of the cages were dirty with urine and feces.
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