Top 3 Best Animal Shelters in Maine (2023) — Animal Protection & Adoption Near Me

Adopting animals from shelters has never been more critical than it is today. Many pets adopted in 2019-2020 have now returned to shelters. These animals are in dire need of a forever family and home.

Behind the fluffy ears, the paws, the whiskers, and the cute little tummy are much more than just a pet. They have feelings and deserve a family to take care of them. If you consider adopting a pet, you should realize that it is a huge commitment and responsibility. But right now is the best time to adopt if you embrace your role as a pet parent and want to welcome a pet into your family and home.

Adopted animals have a different look; do you know why? Because they have lived through the worst, and they know how lucky it is to be in a warm, loving home with a plate of food. Your future adopted pet will give you its eternal gratitude, and you will be able to feel it every day.

We’ve compiled a list of the best animal shelters in Maine.

3 Best Animal Shelters in Maine, ME

Adoption is an alternative that benefits everyone when it comes to acquiring a pet: the family, animal protection entities, and, of course, the animal itself

Shelters across the country house approximately eight million companion animals each year.  Yet, nearly 50% of them are euthanized due to the shelter’s lack of resources.

Animal Shelters

1) Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland nurtures the connection between people and pets to advance animal welfare and improve the quality of life in the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland community.

The ARLGP provides temporary care and shelter for stray, abandoned, confiscated, and relinquished animals, and places as many pets as possible into responsible and caring homes; they create awareness and support for the humane treatment of all animals.

They strive to end animal overpopulation through education and the promotion of spaying and neutering; they make end-of-life decisions based on safety and animal welfare considerations.

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland envisions that pets and people can share a healthy bond of love and kindness.

Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland Information and Details:


  • Mailing Address: 217 Landing Rd, Westbrook, ME 04092, United States
  • Website:
  • Phone: +12078549771
Animal Shelters

2) Harvest Hills Animal Shelter

Harvest Hills Animal Shelter is a non-profit organization which contracts with 19 towns in Western Maine to accept neglected, stray, and abandoned cats and dogs. These animals are brought in by the towns’ animal control officers. When space is available, Harvest Hills also accepts owner surrendered animals from all surrounding communities in Maine and New Hampshire and will assist other shelters by providing a safe place for adoptable animals that would otherwise be euthanized, or did not fit another shelters admission policies.

Since opening its doors in 1992, Harvest Hills has found loving homes for approximately 17,000 dogs and cats. As we have grown in recent years, we strive to serve more animals in need, reduce stress and suffering for every animal passing through our doors and provide individual attention, medical and custodial care to our charges. We also consider it an important part of our mission to educate the community, adults and children about the responsibilities of pet ownership and the benefits of adopting a Harvest Hills animal.

Harvest Hills has taken great care to avoid euthanasia whenever possible. Every animal goes through a socialization program and is evaluated so we may match them with their new family. This process helps with the transition of shelter life to a new home for both the animal and its new owners.

Harvest Hills Animal Shelter Information and Details:


Animal Shelters

3) Animal Welfare Society

Founded in 1967, Animal Welfare Society (AWS) is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit humane society located in Kennebunk, Maine. The organization provides shelter, veterinary care, education and resources to more than 10,000 pets and community members annually.

AWS operates a progressive animal shelter and adoption center on a 40 acre campus in Kennebunk and satellite adoption centers throughout northern New England. AWS’ life-saving community programs include Pets and Survivors to Safety, Paws in Stripes and Paws Across America.  AWS’ services to the greater community include [email protected], Youth Programs, Behavior and Training classes, spay/neuter assistance through the Cleo Fund and veterinary and wellness care at the AWS Community Veterinary Clinic. AWS serves as the animal control impound facility for 21 municipalities in York County, providing safety and shelter to lost and abandoned pets.

Annually, more than 4,000 animals receive care – and find new homes – at AWS. The AWS Community Veterinary Clinic provided wellness services, including surgeries, examinations and vaccinations to nearly 8,500 pets of community members, in addition to AWS resident pets.  [email protected] provides resources to families and pets, including pet food, low-cost or complimentary veterinary care, temporary boarding and supplies, in an effort to keep pets and families together during times of financial hardship or housing insecurity.

Additional community programs, such as Humane Education and Canine Training bring education, training and lessons to countless community members of all ages each year. In all, AWS supports the care and well-being of more than 13,150 pets – and the people who love them – on an annual basis.

Animal Welfare Society Information and Details:


Animal Shelters

Animal Rescue & Shelter Online

We hope that one of the shelters listed above can help you find your future pet, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen you can always opt for different alternatives.

For this reason, we’ve added these alternative platforms. These platforms will help you connect with people who have pets for sale or adoption near you. It can be a great alternative in looking for your future pet within the comfort of your home.

Pet Finder

Petfinder is an online, searchable database of animals who need homes. It is also a directory of nearly 11,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Organizations maintain their own home pages and available-pet databases.

Adopt A Pet

If you want to give an abandoned puppy a second chance, a shelter is definitely the place to find a pet.

Adopt a pet is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website. They help over 21,000 animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their homeless pets to millions of adopters a month, for free.

Dog Rescues & Shelters

How much does it cost to adopt an animal from the shelter ?

Generally, An administrative fee ranges between $6 and $25 — sales tax depending on the state apply to all adoptions. This fee covers some of the costs associated with processing adoptions and provides revenue that supports the animal Shelter.

Standard adoption fees

  • Dogs and puppies:
  • Cats and kittens:
  • Birds, rabbits, and other small mammals:

The adoption fee includes:

  • Spay/neuter surgery for dogs, cats and rabbits.
  • Recommended vaccinations.
  • Microchip and registration.
  • Initial worming.

When not to adopt a pet

It is best to avoid adopting a pet in the following circumstances:

  • You are in the process of moving
  • You are remodeling or repairing your home
  • You are about to have a baby (it is usually best to have the baby and let life stabilize a bit before introducing a new pet)
  • It’s the holiday season ( pets aren’t meant to be gifts and holidays are usually too hectic for a new dog)
  • You or someone in your family is going through other major life events (the new pet may be lost in the shuffle or be overwhelmed by chaos)
Animal Shelters

The Adoption Process

Well done! You have found your new pet. Now is the time for formalities. Most organizations require an application before they can adopt. This is to prevent pets from falling into the wrong hands. While it may sound like an interrogation, these groups have policies in place for a reason. Fortunately, many people have no problem getting approval.

Some groups require a waiting period before bringing your new pet home, possibly due to a medical procedure that has been done. Some pets may have a waiting list, so ask questions beforehand.

Find out what the adoption fee includes (vaccines, spay/neuter, etc.). Before signing the contract, learn what you expect from yourself and what the group will do to help you.

Most organizations ask you to return the pet to them if you can no longer care for it (don’t give it away to someone else). Find out what is known about the pet’s history and what health problems, if any, were noted while the pet was in their care.

5 Reasons to Adopt instead of Buy

1)You Provide another opportunity.

All the animals in the shelter have their own story. Some were born on the street; others had a family and got abandoned; they have been hungry, cold, and afraid. You give them another chance at a life full of love and hope when you adopt. 

2)Your money will benefit more animals.

When adopting, you have to pay certain fees, which are low budget and will not benefit one or two people; on the contrary, it will go directly to the shelter and the neediest animals. Rescues and shelters can buy food, beds, toys, vaccines, dewormers, veterinary consultations, and more with that money.

3)You are part of the change.

Behind every dog ​​in the shelter are dozens of people who have worked to rescue, cure, heal or rehabilitate it. By adopting dogs or cats from the shelter, you are part of that chain of change, and most importantly, you help keep it going. When you walk your adopted dog or talk about your rescue cat, you are helping to show the benefits of adoptions and trials that they are reliable options.

4)There is one for you.

Unfortunately, animals of all kinds are abandoned, puppies, adults, seniors, Mixed or purebred. So if you are looking for a small one, a big one, with a lot of energy or rather calm, when you go to the refuge of your community you will discover that there is one for you and why not two.

5)You break the chain of profit at the expense of animals.

For years people have gone to pet stores because they didn’t know any other option or didn’t trust adoptions, but hardly anyone wonders what happens to the parents of those puppies? What happens to the puppies that are not adopted? And the answers are painful since the parents are condemned to indiscriminate reproduction, often in a brutal and abusive manner. Puppies that are not adopted are used for breeding, reproducing the cycle, or worse; they are discarded.

And since you have come this far we will give you an extra bonus, the most important reason to adopt instead of buying: you will receive the purest and most unconditional love.

Adopted dogs and cats have a different look, do you know why? Because they have lived through the worst and they know how lucky it is to be in a warm, loving home with a plate of food.

Final Thoughts

Remember, it can take a long time for a pet to adjust to a new home. You and your family will need time to adjust. You may notice that your new pet has behavioral problems, fears, phobias, or lacks training. If the adaptation period is long and complex, it’s a good idea to seek the assistance from a vet or a behaviorist.

Share this article with friends and family who are considering getting a dog. Maybe you could inspire her to be a hero and save a pet instead! Adoption is crucial to stop animal abuse and neglect. If you’re thinking of adding a furry member to your family, adopt, don’t buy.


  • Amanda Wheatley

    Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)