State Officials Not Responding to Complaints of Dog Abuse

Ah, 22 degrees below zero – a mild 50 degrees below zero! There’s no better time for a beagle to be kept outdoors, with nothing but an open plywood box for shelter.

At least according to the Maine Animal Welfare Program.

We have a problem at Norridgewock: a breeding kennel holding dozens of short-haired dogs in all weathers. Despite recurring problems with illegally short ties, inadequate shelter, and water deprivation, the animal control officer refuses to get involved with this property. After unnecessary calls to the COA on a -18 degree day, I phoned Animal Welfare when the temperatures reached -22 degrees on January 27th. It’s a state agency solely responsible for enforcing animal welfare laws, and they pay $850,000 in annual salaries. But when I called, they hung up. Thrice.

It wasn’t because of a bad connection: when informed that the dogs had been out in -22 degree temperatures, the person on the line replied with an “I am aware of the weather”. Then hung up the phone. He hung up because he didn’t want to be bothered to report.

If you’ve tried to report an animal welfare concern in your community, this has probably happened to you. Hang up is Animal Welfare’s standard response to reports of animal abuse. Those in Norridgewock frustrated with constant blockages for our issue contacted the Attorney General’s office, who referred us to the director of Animal Welfare. He promised to respond to this employee’s behavior but never did. Months later, Animal Welfare is still hanging up on callers.

Animal Welfare received $76,000 from license plates in 2020. Here’s my idea: Use that $76,000 to hire someone off the street and fire everyone else. Maine would have a functional animal welfare department, and the public would save a million dollars in salaries for inactive employees too inconvenienced to answer the phones while the dogs under their supposed protection freeze to death.

Rebecca Ballien

Norridgewock


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