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Animal Welfare Program

Frequently Asked Questions

The primary purpose of the Animal Welfare Program is to ensure that animals in Maine are humanely and properly treated. The Commissioner of Agriculture has developed, implemented and administered a comprehensive program to uphold the animal welfare laws through communication, education and enforcement.
The majority of funding for the Animal Welfare Program comes from the licensing of dogs and various facilities such as animal shelters, boarding kennels, breeding kennels, pet shops, and research facilities, pet and livestock food registration, Tax check off, and the Animal Welfare License plates. AWP does not operate with money from the general fund.
There is the Director, Veterinarian, 5 District Humane Agents, and a Clerk Typist III
AWP receives anywhere from 500 to 800 complaints every year.  However in Maine’s other state agencies including municipal Animal Control Officers (ACOs), sheriff departments and the State Police also handle animal welfare complaints. Unfortunately the total number of animal welfare cases is higher than the number handled by the Animal Welfare Program. Many times the staff of the Animal Welfare Program cooperates with other agencies on specific cases.
Although we mostly deal with complaints involving domestic animals like dogs, cats, and horses, Agents have also responded to cases involving farm animals, Ostrich’s,  Emus, Bison, even ferrets and hamsters.
Other responsibilities of the AWP are to…
  • Inspect and license boarding kennels, breeding kennels, animal shelters, pet shops and research facilities
  • Implement and administer the dog-licensing program with the municipalities.
  • Implement and administer the On Line dog-licensing program.
  • Implement and administer the AWP sponsored “Help Fix ME” spay/neuter program for low-income dog and cat owners.
  • Implement and administer the Animal Control Officer basic training and certification.
  • Partner in the State Rabies Working Group.
  • Educate and assist with disaster planning for both shelters and pet owners.
  • Create and present Humane Education to all age levels.
  •  Work with Animal Welfare Council, Town Clerks Association and the Maine Veterinarian Medical Association to update or initiate legislation regarding the Animal Welfare Laws and Regulations.
  • Partner with nonprofit animal shelters to provide immediate shelter of rescued animals from abuse or neglect situations.