IV. J. Relationship to Animal Welfare

Effective 12/1/82

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IV. J. Relationship to Animal Welfare

Effective 12/1/82

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In 1874, a group of concerned church workers found the only way to protect 9 year old Mary Ellen from abuse and neglect was through the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  In 1875, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was established in New York City.


The American Humane Association organized in 1877, has a division for the protection of animals and a division for the protection of children.  The AHA, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, has continued to provide leadership on a national level for child protective services.


In Maine, Animal Welfare is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Welfare.  See page 6 for a listing of persons responsible for animal welfare services.



1.The protection responsibilities of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Agriculture are quite similar for different target populations.
2.On occasion, situations involving suspected abuse/neglect of one target population may involve suspected abuse/neglect of the other target population.



Although the Maine laws for animal welfare and for child welfare have developed independent of one another, the similarities are striking.


Both laws place responsibility for care on the owner/parent, authorize investigations of reports of suspected abuse/neglect, set forth procedures for emergency protection, provide due process for changes of custody and authorize licensing and/or approval of substitute care facilities.

1.Title 17, §1050 assigns responsibility for animal welfare to the Commissioner of Agriculture or his designee.


2.Title 17, §1211 authorizes the Commissioner, his agents, or law enforcement officers, to petition the District or Superior Court for an order to take possession of and make provision for necessary care or destruction of an animal in jeopardy by its owner.
a.An ex parte order (analogous to the preliminary protection order for children) may be requested when an animal is in immediate danger (analogous to the child protection immediate risk of serious harm).
b.The court will schedule a hearing on the petition whether or not an ex parte order has been requested (analogous to the child protection hearing on the preliminary protection order and the child protection full hearing on the protection petition, combined).


3.Title 17 MRSA, §1212 authorizes humane agents or law enforcement officials to intervene to prevent the perpetuation of an act of cruelty in their presence (e.g., to provide food, water, and/or shelter on site when it appears that the animal may be in jeopardy).


4.Title 17 MRSA, §1213 authorizes investigations by humane agents and law enforcement officials of all cases of cruelty to animals (analogous to the Department of Human Services’ authorization to investigate suspected child abuse/neglect).


5.Title 17-A MRSA, §510 classifies cruelty to animals as a class D crime and defines cruelty (essentially intentional, knowing, or recklessly causing serious harm or threat of serious harm to a domestic or wild animal), with the exception of accepted veterinary practice or scientific research, or pest control (or presumably, other statutes regulating hunting).


6.Title 7 MRSA, §3406 authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture or his agent to approve humane society shelters.


7.Title 7 MRSA, §3456 sets forth licensing requirements for dog owners, kennels, pet shops and boarding kennels, and also authorizes the promulgation of rules and regulations regarding the operations of licensed facilities and approved shelters, including inspections and investigations of complaints.


8.Title 7 MRSA, §3452-A requires each municipality to have one or more animal control officers (frequently a law enforcement officer).


9.Title 7 MRSA, §3455-3458 comprise the "leash law" which prohibits owners from permitting their dogs to "run at large," and provides for impounding such dogs and imposing a fine on the owners.


10.Title 7 MRSA, §3604-3808 relate to assaults by dangerous dogs including provision for court orders to control or kill such dogs and procedures for payment for injuries and/or damages by dogs.


11.Title 12 MRSA, §7331-7901 regulate dog training field trials, and set forth procedures to deal with dogs chasing wild or domestic animals.



1.Receipt of Referral/Report from Humane Agents
a.Referrals/reports of suspected child abuse/neglect from humane agents will be processed in the same manner as any other referral/report, including intake assessment, any intake study and any other child protection services.
b.The intake worker will gather information from the humane agent regarding his animal welfare activities which appear to be relevant to services to protect the child(ren).
c.Information received from humane agents will be treated with the same confidentiality as any other information in a Child and Family Services case record in accordance with Title 22 MRSA, §4008.


2.Referrals to Law Enforcement and/or Requests for Assistance
a.Referrals or requests for assistance from law enforcement will be made when:
(1)The worker has reasonable cause to believe that an animal has been or is likely to assault a person or another animal; and
(2)A reasonably prudent citizen would be expected to report to law enforcement.
b.See Relationship to Law Enforcement, Section XI, Subsection 4.


3.Referrals to Humane Agents
a.Making a referral assists the humane agent in carrying out his responsibility to prevent cruelty to animals.  In making an appropriate referral, the worker demonstrates his conviction for the concept of protection.
b.It is the responsibility of the humane agent to determine whether a violation of the animal welfare laws has occurred and what action to take (e.g., to make arrangements for the care for the animal and/or to bring charges).
c.A referral will be made when:
(1)A worker has reasonable cause to believe that an animal has been or is likely to be abused or neglected, and
(2)A reasonably prudent citizen would be expected to report to the humane agent.
d.Referrals will be made immediately to the humane agent in the geographic area where the animal is present.
e.A written referral/report will be sent only if necessary to assist the humane agent in carrying out his responsibilities.
f.The referral/report will contain:
(1)The facts to date, including names, addresses, phone number of the animal’s owner, alleged perpetrators, witnesses, other involved and any other pertinent information, including whether law enforcement is involved, and if so, for what purpose.
(2)The Department’s general next steps or plan, if any, in any related child protection case (e.g., whether the family will be receiving services), if this information is necessary to protect an animal.
(3)Suggestion of possible Department and humane agent roles, including coordination and joint investigation as may be necessary to protect an animal or person.
(4)The joint decision regarding informing owners and/or alleged perpetrators of the referral, unless worker or humane agent believe that the risk of harm to an animal or person would be increased or evidence would be distributed.
g.If the worker believes that actions resulting from the humane agent activities are relevant to the Department’s responsibilities for protection of the child(ren), the worker will request that the humane agent notify the worker of the results of the humane agent’s investigation and next steps, if any.


4.Case Management Services from the Department
a.The Department has responsibility for confidentiality of Child and Family Services records, which are subject to Title 22, §4008 and any departmental rules on use and disclosure of records.
b.Information received from the humane agent will not be further disclosed unless necessary to protect an animal or person.
c.The worker will request that he be informed by the humane agent of the humane agent’s activities which appear to be as related to the Department’s responsibilities.
d.Owners and/or perpetrators will be informed that this information is being exchanged unless the risk of harm to an animal or person would be increased.
e.Written reports will be exchanged only as necessary to carry out respective responsibilities.


5.Supplemental Working Agreements will be developed as needed by regional offices with local humane agents.



1.        Director:

 Stanley T. Browne, Maine Department of Agriculture

 Office:  287-3846                Home:  622-4100


2.        Full-Time District Agents:

Betzold, John, Southern District, 31 Cliff Avenue, Cape Elizabeth 04107
       Telephone:  799-3811
Cote, Ann, Central District, Augusta Office, 27 Eastern Avenue, Augusta 04330
       Telephone:  289-3846 or 623-4155
Leighton, Robert, Northern District, 201 Juniper Street, Bangor -4401
       Telephone:  947-4943


3.State Humane Agents:
Braley, Walter, 445 Stroudwater Street, Westbrook  04092
       Telephone:  854-4996 or 854-8151
Brennan, Sandra, RFD#4, Box 204, Houlton  04730
       Telephone:  532-6953
Bulger, Harold, R#1, Rivierside Drive, Augusta  04330
       Telephone:  622--4857
Clark, Laurel, R#1, Box 1740, Bingham  04920
       Telephone:  672-3252
Gagne Robert, 27 Park Street, South Berwick  03908
       Telephone:  384-2026
Gardner, Virgil, 6 Cooper Street, Machias  04654
       Telephone:  255-3985
Higgins, Harold, R#1, Box 3, Belfast  04915
       Telephone:  338-3533
Hughes, Albert, 76 Aroostook Avenue, Millinocket  04462
       Telephone:  723-8790
Jackson, Doris, Voter Hill, Farmington  04938
       Telephone:  778-4516
McElman, Roy, 16 North 18th Avenue, Madawaska  04756
       Telephone:  728-4562
Morris, Keldon, 87 North Main Street, Rockland  04841
       Telephone:  596-0156
Nickerson, Loraine, Montgomery Road, Boothbay Harbor  04538
       Telephone:  633-4457
Pinkham, Patricia, 18 Woodbury Street, Bangor  04401
       Telephone:  942-4412