cat and dog resting

MFOA History / Timeline

Maine Friends of Animals (MFOA) is Maine’s largest and leading animal protection organization. We promote the humane treatment of animals through education, advocacy and legislation.

MFOA was founded in 1997 by former legislator and longtime animal protection advocate Robert Fisk, Jr., when he found that animals (protection) had no real voice in the Maine legislature. There was little or no organized effort or effective structure in which animal issues could be advanced. The fundamental initial goals of MFOA were to effectively engage the legislative process and to set up a statewide organization as a foundation to increase public awareness pertaining to animal protection issues. 

Today, MFOA has a seven-member board working together with 1,500 members and supporters statewide to move animal protection issues to the forefront in the legislature and with the public in general. This has provided MFOA with the ability to organize and develop coinciding two-year campaigns to support such legislative efforts as revamping the State Animal Welfare Program, addressing the cruelty of coyote snaring and treatment of circus elephants, from establishing our “Dogs Chained for Life” and Pet Club programs to submitting a State referendum to ban bear baiting, hounding and trapping, from focuses on canned hunting, puppy mills, harness racing/slaughter to the eight pieces of legislation that have improved the lives of Maine’s dogs and cats, MFOA has led the way in Maine. Never easy, but tirelessly speaking up for animals. 

MFOA is also an education and resource center. The offices in Falmouth are home to animal protection articles, files, magazines, legislative history since 1997, books, videos, DVDs and various resources. MFOA can assist members who might like to learn more about the issues, or to set up a table at a local school, community event, county fair, conference, political event, etc. MFOA’s Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator and office staff can assist members in outreach education either at our office or in your community. Education leads to advocacy that leads to public awareness that leads to successful legislation, all helping the advancement of animal protection.

Maine Friends of Animals has done a great deal over the past 20 plus years, but there is still much more to do for Maine’s companion, farm and wildlife animals. We are a broad-based organization that welcomes conservative (animal welfare), moderate (animal protection) and liberal (animal rights) advocates. The more individuals who engage in the animal protection movement, at any level, and the more organized we are in working together, the more we will be able to accomplish as we continue to strive to become a more humane state for animals. 

See YouTube  MFOA: THE FIRST 15 YEARS  (below Timeline)

 

                                                       TIMELINE - MFOA IN ACTION 

 

1997  Robert Fisk, Jr. founds Maine Friends of Animals and opens an office in Falmouth.

1997  As a state legislator, Fisk champions animal issues and sponsors an Endangered Species bill for the Maine Audubon Society. He is named by the Maine Audubon Society as one the top environmentalist in the Maine House of Representatives. 

1998  Lobbied for legislation to prohibit the pari-mutual simulcast of greyhound racing in Maine.

1998  Established Board of Directors, membership drive, legislative lobbying initiative and volunteer structure.

1999  Sponsored legislation and initiated a public awareness campaign to end recreational and commercial leghold trapping. 

1999  Sponsored legislation in 1999 and then in 2002 joined with northern Maine wildlife activists in an intense two-year campaign on legislation to end coyote snaring.

2000  Led a highly publicized legislative effort that resulted in revamping Maine’s Animal Welfare Program, removal of the program director and state veterinarian, and the formation of the Animal Welfare Advisory Council (AWAC) making it more responsive and effective in animal cruelty cases. MFOA director Robert Fisk, Jr. served on AWAC for the first five years.

2000  MFOA membership grows to 800 in two years and a new District Coordinator structure is created in 15 district population centers throughout the state; launches it’s website www.mfoa.net.

2000  MFOA begins tracking state legislators, sending out candidate questionnaires, and establishing a list of animal-friendly legislators, many who will sponsor and co-sponsor MFOA legislation.

2001  Passed successful legislation to increase penalties for animal cruelty from a misdemeanor to a felony offense with provisions for increased fines and imprisonment.

2001  MFOA began a four-year, two legislature campaign to ban circus elephants into the state, which is extensively covered by the media. In the 120th Legislature the House passed the first-in-the-nation legislation 85–53, but it failed in the Senate. In the following legislature, the bill won a Resolution to strengthen enforcement of Maine cruelty laws pertaining to circus elephants. 

2001  Besides the bills to increase the penalties for animal cruelty, revamp the Animal Welfare Program and circus elephant ban, MFOA sponsored bills to ban bear baiting, hounding and trapping, to prohibit the sale of bear parts, to eliminate the state’s coyote snaring program, to eliminate “canned hunting” ranches, and to end the use of steel leghold traps.

2001  Robert Fisk, Jr. wins the national The Humane Society of United States’ award for an individual doing the most to promote animal protection legislation in their state, personally leading eight pieces of MFOA legislation in the 120th Legislature. 

2003  MFOA moved to new offices in Falmouth, which also served as campaign headquarters for the two years leading up to and including the 2004 statewide bear referendum.

2003  Three MFOA members form ‘Spay Maine’, a very successful program designed to reduce cat and dog euthanasias, which was subsequently incorporated into the state Animal Welfare Program.

2003  Passed legislation to require that dogs in an open vehicle, e.g., the back of a pick-up truck, be properly secured so that they cannot fall, jump or be thrown from the vehicle.

2003  Robert Fisk, Jr. made two trips to Washington, D.C. to meet with The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals to initiate a state referendum initiative to end the hunting of black bears with the use of bait, hounds and traps. MFOA organized state animal activists and the campaign team and helped form the political action committee ‘Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting’. Fisk served as campaign director, debater and spokesperson. 

2004  With the help of 500 volunteers statewide, many MFOA members, collect over 103,000 signatures for the bear ballot initiative, setting a state referendum signature gathering record.

2006  After a two-year educational and media campaign to raise public awareness of Maine cruelty cases, MFOA passed the first-in-the-nation legislation to address ‘dogs chained for life’, establishing greater safety and health requirements for dogs left outside on a continuous basis.

2006   MFOA membership increased to 1,500 and an office manager was hired to handle the legislative agenda and the membership growth. By-Laws are revised and expanded. 

2007  Followed up on successful legislation with a statewide on-going program called “Dogs Chained for Life” (DCFL), created a TV public service announcement, and organized a MFOA DCFL assistance line to help in securing the release of a DCFL.

2007  Sponsored legislation, which became law in 2011, requiring that a bittering agent be added to antifreeze to help prevent poisoning of pets and wildlife.

2008  Endorsed and actively supported a State Senator who wins by 121 votes in a recount. MFOA’s grassroots efforts and newspaper ads not only helped elect an animal-friendly State Senator, but in doing so, defeated a long time incumbent who had the worst animal protection record in the Senate.

2008  Maintained a six-year campaign over three legislatures to ban the killing of non-native wild animals in enclosed acreage known as “canned hunting”. The legislation ended by capping such operations to the existing grandfathered facilities. 

2010  Developed a comprehensive program model ‘Pet Club’ for elementary and middle schools, teaching children about the responsibility in the care and protection of companion animals.

2011  Passed legislation to provide greater response for first responders in protecting animals left in unattended vehicles if the animal’s safety, health and well-being appears to be in danger, especially in the summer. 

2011  Sponsored a Joint Resolution calling on the Canadian government to end its sanctioning of the annual seal pup slaughter. Resolution was passed in the legislature and signed by the governor.

2013  Sponsored legislation to make post conviction possession of animals a criminal offense to increase the deterrent of repeat animal cruelty. The bill passed in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Governor LePage.  In 2018, after a change in the adminisration, MFOA re-introduced the bill and it was passed into law giving prosecutors better tools and remedies to efficiently enforce violation of pet ownership limitations.

2013  In 2010 MFOA organized a four-year public awareness campaign with accompanying legislation in 2013 to ban horse slaughter for human consumption in Maine, as well as the transportation of horses to slaughter through Maine to slaughter plants in Quebec. The Maine House of Representatives became the first-in-the-nation to pass such legislation, but the bill lost in a Senate conference committee. The campaign also continued for years in exposing Maine harness racing as a heavily state subsidized, outdated, and cruel form of entertainment that has drastically faded in popularity. 

2014  Ten years after MFOA lead the state ballot initiative to end the hunting of Maine black bears with the use of bait, hounds and traps, it again joins the Humane Society of the United States in a second referendum, which loses 53%-47%. 

2015  Sponsored (in partnership with Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills) first-in-the-nation “anti-puppy mill” legislation, with an accompanying education campaign, to ban the retail sales of dogs and cats in Maine pet shops that often acquire their puppies and kittens from terribly inhumane out-of-state mass breeding facilities. The bill passed in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Governor LePage.

2017  MFOA has continually supported the pet food surcharge and opposed repeated industry efforts to remove it. Industry legislation would have removed the tax and drastically reduced funding for Maine’s animal welfare low-cost spay/neuter program. The committee not only defeated the bill, but renamed and amended it to increase funding allocated for the program.

2017  MFOA increased outreach with Pet-Friendly Hotel Certification, partnering with the The Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, and a new website.

2018  Re-introduced similar anti-puppy mill legislation it sponsored in 2015, which was passed. Three pet shops were grandfathered, without ownership passage, meaning Maine will be a state without pet shop sale of  dogs and cats, while stores can instead assist in shelter adoptions.

2018  Passed second-in-the-nation legislation known as Franky’s Law, which provides Maine courts and prosecutors another resource in handling more animal cruelty cases by utilizing volunteer law students and attorneys with an interest in animal law. MFOA developed an implementation plan and will organize the program’s operation.

 

 

 

 

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