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 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 and MFOA.

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

1999  MFOA sponsors legislation to end recreational and commercial leghold trapping and initiates public awareness campaign.

1999  MFOA submits legislation in 1999 and in 2002 joins with northern Maine wildlife activists in an intense two-year campaign to end coyote snaring.

2000  MFOA leads a highly publicized legislative effort that results in the State Animal Welfare Program being reviewed and completely revamped. The Animal Welfare Advisory Council (AWAC) is created, which MFOA director Fisk serves on for the first six 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

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  MFOA sponsors successful legislation to increase penalties for animal cruelty, including felony provisions with increased fines and imprisonment.

2001  MFOA begins a four-year, two legislature campaign to ban circus elephants into the state, which is extensively covered by the media. In the first session the House passes first-in-the-nation legislation 85–53, but the bill fails in the Senate. In the following legislature the bill wins a Resolution to strengthen enforcement of Maine cruelty laws pertaining to circus elephants. 

2001  MFOA lobbies for legislation that prevented the parimutuel simulcast wagering of greyhound racing in Maine.

2001  Besides the above three mentioned bills, MFOA submits 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 national 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 moves to new offices in Falmouth, serves as campaign headquarters for the two years leading up to and including the 2004 statewide bear referendum.

2003  Two MFOA members form Spay Maine to reduce cat and dog euthanasias, which remains a model program.

2003  Robert Fisk, Jr. makes 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 effort to end the hunting of black bears with the use of bait, hounds and traps. MFOA organizes state animal activists and campaign team and helps form the political action committee Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting. Fisk serves 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.

2005  MFOA submits legislation to address dogs chained outside on a continuous basis specifying stricter conditions that must be met for dogs left out 24/7, which passes in the legislature and becomes the first legislation of its kind in the nation.

2006  MFOA follows up on successful legislation with a statewide program called “Dogs Chained for Life” (DCFL) and sets up a structure at MFOA for handling these abuse cases. “DCFL” becomes an ongoing MFOA campaign helping to free many chained dogs in Maine.

2006  MFOA hires a contract part time office manager to handle membership growth that increases to 1,500 statewide. Office manager provides MFOA board with greater coverage and presence. By-Laws are expanded. 

2007  MFOA gets legislation passed to add a bittering agent in anti-freeze to save pet and small wildlife deaths, that will take affect when three other states in the northeast states passes similar legislation. Three years later, that provision was met and the bill became Maine law. 

2008  MFOA endorses and actively supports 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  MFOA 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 capped “canned hunting” operations to the existing grandfathered facilities.

2011  MFOA and The Madison Elementary School partner to develop a ‘Pet Club’ model for 3–6 graders. The ‘Pet Club’ activities promote the responsibility and care for companion animals. MFOA creates ‘How To’ packets with the goal of starting other companion animal clubs in Maine elementary schools.

2011  MFOA sponsored bill, “An Act to Improve the Protection of Animals”, passes into law, resulting in expanding the first responders for better protection for animals left in unattended vehicles if the animal’s safety, health and well-being appears to be in danger, especailly in the summer. 

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

2013  MFOA sponsors “An Act to Make Post Conviction Possession of Animals a Criminal Offense”. This legislation would make it a criminal offense for an individual to own animals after being convicted of animal cruelty, adding a needed deterrent for repeat offenders. The bill passed in the Legislature, but was vetoed by Governor LePage. Bill is being re-submitted in 2019 legislature.

2013  In 2010 MFOA organized a four-year awareness campaign with accompanying legislation in 2013 to ban horse slaughter for the 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 exposed harness racing as an outdated, 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  MFOA sponsors (in partnership with Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills) first-in-the-nation “anti-puppy mill” legislation to ban the retail sales of dogs and cats in Maine pet shops, which often acquire their puppies and kittens from terribly inhumane out-of-state mass breeding facilities. The bill passed in both bodies of the legislature, but was vetoed by Governor LePage. The bill is being re-submitted in the 2019 legislature. 

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




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