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Dear Editor,

I attempted to have a conversation with Dan Foster regarding [the decision to sever ties with Central Aroostook Humane Society] a couple of weeks ago. To say that conversation went nowhere is putting it mildly.

First and foremost, as a resident and taxpayer of the town of Fort Fairfield. The only information that was available regarding this was what was in the news. Mr. Foster advised me that everything he was quoted as saying by the press was not accurate and we could not rely on that information. However he was unwilling to come away from his pat repetitive answer of this is costing the taxpayers a lot of money and it had to stop. He has not to date handled the liabilities involved for the volunteers he expects to man his “Canine Clink.” The liabilities I refer to are the disease possibilities from bites, and scratches for people who volunteer their time for the care of these animals. People who work for these type of organizations have the organizations’ insurance to fall back on if they are injured or bitten by a stray. Mr. Foster advised me that the volunteers will be taking this on themselves; because they will be volunteering, it is not town liability. This is why no one has come forward to volunteer!

Mr. Foster is not only the town manger but is listed as the Health Officer as well should this not be a concern?

Also at no time did he ever indicate the attitude that is attributed by this quote in your article: “We as public employees will work to facilitate that process,” said Foster. “The Chief is more than willing to meet with those who are truly concerned about the stray cats and dogs in our community. He's willing to work with them in terms of trying to establish a policy to take care of this need that they're concerned about, they just need to step up and be willing to participate. That's the direction that we need to be going in.”

His entire attitude when I spoke with him was this is not the town's problem deal with it yourself, “The town is not under the state laws required to deal with cats, I lived on a farm and had cats come and go all the time I didn't see a problem with it.”

I have a problem with having possible diseased animals hanging around my livestock and I don't want to be in a position of being deemed owner/keeper under state law.

He has compared apples to oranges in his cost of contracting with Central Aroostook Humane Society, with the cost of the average person surrendering and animal to the shelter.

Animals that are surrendered by private parties have usually had all their shots, hence the shelter does not incur the cost of those again. It is required by State Law to have a Veterinarian administer Rabies shots. Animals that are surrendered by private parties do not usually have long term stays in the shelter. They are ready for immediate adoption. Hence the cost is less.

Strays have to be held for various reasons, one is to insure they are not owned by someone looking for them. I believe the time period is usually 10 days. After that a stray is held usually an additional week to insure they do not exhibit any diseases. Shots must be given to strays because no one has a shot record for them. This is for the protection of the people handling them as well as for future adoptability as well as to prevent spread of communicable disease in the shelter itself. Not to mention for liability reasons the animals are evaluated for temperament and other things before they are adopted. Mr. Foster has not addressed this either. He has only looked at a very small portion of the whole picture and refuses to discuss the entire picture with anyone.

With all this in play the stray can end up at the shelter for weeks or even months before the right home is found. This costs money! I know what I pay for the shots for my animals annually and it runs right around $35.00 per animal and that is without the vet's office visit fee. It costs me roughly $10.00 per week in food per animal. And I don't have to pay someone to clean kennels or evaluate my animals either. So at the $25.00 per dog for a community member to surrender an animal is reasonable to the shelter. It is not reasonable when the animal is a stray.

According to your article he states: “It's not just about the fact that we don't have the money. It's more than that, it's about: is this a good use of the money that we have? If you look at the services that are being rendered, if someone has a cat that is being taken over there, they're going to charge him $15.00 for the cat and $25 for a dog, if part of a member community.”

I have already addressed his misconception of the costs. He sates that is not the fact that we don't have the the conversation with me in person he stated the town did not have the money and that this was all about the money because no one had had a pay raise in four years. He refused to respond to me when I asked him what made him think any of the taxpayers had had a pay raise in the last four years.

Reality is, and he has refused to put this forward to the taxpayers, is the contract with a shelter is based roughly on $1.50 per person listed to live in the town. It is very strange that I as a taxpayer in the town of Fort Fairfield had no difficulty obtaining accurate information and at no time was treated in a condescending manner either in writing or in person except by Mr. Foster.

I questioned Mr. Foster several times regarding the state laws regarding owner/keeper and that precedents had been established by the state where stray/feral cats where concerned right here in Aroostook County were people had been charged with Animal Cruelty because the stray/feral cats were found on their property. I am referring to the Palmer Case in Presque Isle here. His response was that was not his problem as far as he was concerned that was between the individual and the state. In short he is putting every member of this community in that position because we have no where to take the strays and dumped animals.

He will not release the name of the Local Pet Rescue that he claims to be working with so we know where to take them! If, as is suspected by many, this is Halfway Home Pet Rescue /Caribou Pet Rescue - I understand this particular entity is in danger of losing their license and facility and is presently being operated illegally out of the owner's basement. A call to the code enforcement officer of Caribou will confirm that as well as the fact that the City of Caribou is trying to shut this rescue down in its present location.

Precious Paws in Van Buren is closed. PAWS in Fort Kent is the facility that Mr. Foster claims they visited. Jean, one of the founders, states that no one from Fort Fairfield has visited their facility. To my knowledge these three are the only Pet Rescues in Aroostook County.

It is time and past time for Mr. Foster to be totally honest with the taxpayers of the Town of Fort Fairfield regarding the new policy regarding stray animals and how they will be taken care of. He also needs to be held accountable for what he is quoted as saying in and by the press. If he doesn't want to tell us the whole truth and give us the taxpayers the entire picture, maybe it is also past time for him to stop worrying about pay raises for both of his positions and find different employment.


Margaret Spence

Fort Fairfield


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