News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 18, 2014
Finding new homes for canines
Local shelter offers rescue dogs to foster and adopt

Daniella and Sophie

Founder Daniella Tessier works with Sophie, an American Staffordshire rescue dog.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Follow the drive into Peace Ridge Sanctuary and dogs will run to the dog run fence to greet you. Sometimes there are two, sometimes more. On a recent visit, there were two. See a video from the sanctuary on our YouTube channel.

“We just had a great adoption week,” said Daniella Tessier, founder and operator of the sanctuary.

The dogs come from local animal welfare authorities, who ask the sanctuary to shelter neglected canines, and from shelters in and outside of Maine that routinely euthanize their animals. These dogs are called “rescue dogs.”

Tessier’s philosophy for caring for the dogs is “walk, walk, exercise, exercise, and communicate clearly. And then walk some more.”

The dogs that come from shelters have “a lot of pent-up energy,” while those who are surrendered by owners are under exercised to begin with. “That is the driving force behind behavioral problems,” Tessier said. After a week of walking, “they’re totally willing to listen to you and work on goals.”

Fostering a dog who is waiting for adoption is sometimes, but not always, a first step toward adopting the dog, Tessier said. For foster families, Peace Ridge pays for all food and any vet costs, and checks in with the foster family regularly. For those interested, Tessier recommends reading the sanctuary’s website to learn “who we are and what we’re doing,” and then “just call and have a conversation with me. It’s actually pretty simple.” The sanctuary’s website,, also lists its steps for adopting dogs and ways to donate. The dog run needs work on its infrastructure, especially, Tessier noted.

Dogs and animal shelters

Animal shelters are the drop-off point for stray dogs picked up by local animal welfare officers and for owners who no longer can or no longer want to keep their pets. When an owner surrenders an animal to a shelter, the shelter doesn’t have to keep it alive for as long as a stray. “That’s something people should know,” said Tessier.

With many shelters in Maine operating as “no-kill” shelters, “it’s difficult to deal with the controversy around importing rescue dogs,” she said, something that the sanctuary does whenever it has available room. Its most recent dogs come from a gassing facility in South Carolina.

But not all Maine animal shelters are no-kill. “Most people don’t ask,” Tessier said. “Don’t assume just because it’s Maine, it’s not happening.”

While local shelters, like the Bucksport Animal Shelter and the SPCA in Trenton, don’t euthanize, for many “the trend is not to talk about it, to not admit what their policies are,” Tessier said.

In addition, shelters that do euthanize “aren’t asking for help because they don’t want people to know…that’s the crux of the problem. They need to be more open to asking no-kill shelters for help.”

While Peace Ridge Sanctuary concentrates mostly on neglected farm animals—its most recent additions were eight goats brought by the state animal officer—for the dogs and cats,“we totally rely on foster care,” Tessier said. Since 2001, the farm has saved over 440 dogs.

For more information, contact Tessier at or 326-9507.

Hens at Peace Ridge Sanctuary

Neglected chickens and other farm animals find a permanent home at the sanctuary.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Peace Ridge Sanctuary’s dog run

Founder Daniella Tessier cares for rescue dogs in the dog run. Dogs also stay in an indoor dog room.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Daniella and Sophie

Founder Daniella Tessier works with Sophie, an American Staffordshire rescue dog.

Photo by Anne Berleant