cat and dog resting

MFOA History / Timeline


Maine Friends of Animals (MFOA) is Maine’s largest and leading animal protection organization. Our mission is to 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 (i.e., 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 initial goals of MFOA were to create a statewide organization, increase public awareness of animal protection issues and effectively engage the legislative process. 

Today, MFOA has an active Board and staff working together with 1,500 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 two-year campaigns to educate, advocate, coordinate and support accompanying legislation. Major MFOA initiatives / issues include revamping the State Animal Welfare Program; providing legislative and media attention to the cruelty of coyote killing programs and the treatment of circus elephants, leading, with HSUS, a statewide referendum to ban the hunting of Maine black bears with the use of bait, hounds and traps where MFOA offices served as state headquarters. We have initiated major legisltive campaigns to ban canned hunting, puppy mills, wildlife trapping and harness racing/slaughter, and we are proud of the eleven separate successful 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. 

in recent years, MFOA has passed legislation that provides for the well-being of companion animals in contested divorces, offers a second-in-the-nation courtroom animal advocacy program in animal cruelty cases; bans selling dogs and cats in Maine pet shops; makes post possession of an animal by someone previously convicted of animal cruelty a criminal offense; and a law that helps protect pets abandoned by tenants.

With 25 years of legislative action and the above flurry of bills, the pre-eminent national animal law organization for animal protection, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, has named Maine #1 in the nation for its animal welfare laws, for three years in a row! MFOA has been recognized in having set the standard for legislation at the state level. 

MFOA’s scope is wide, spending considerable time researching, writing, assembling fact sheets, testimony, etc. for all the issues listed above and many more. Materials must be designed for the general public, our supporters, media and legislators. MFOA programs include our 20-year commitment to our ‘Dogs Chained for Life’, a Pet Club for elementary and middle school age students, Franky’s Law courtroom advcoates, while always looking to partner with other state and national animal welfare and protection organizations.

MFOA is also an education and resource center. Our offices in Falmouth are home to animal protection articles, files, magazines, legislative history since 1997, books, videos, DVDs and other electronic resources. We can assist those who might like to learn more about the issues at the office or help you in tabling at a local school or community event, county fair, conference, political event, etc. MFOA’s Volunteer Program can assist you in outreach education and MFOA involvement, either at our office or in your community. Education leads to advocacy, which leads to public awareness, which leads to successful legislation, all helping the advancement of animal protection.

Maine Friends of Animals has achieved a deal over the past 25 plus years, but there is still much more to do for Maine’s companion, farm and wild 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, Board of Directors named and legislative lobbying established. 

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 parimutuel simulcast of greyhound racing in Maine.

1999  Sponsored legislation and initiated a public awareness campaign to end recreational and commercial leg-hold 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

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 leg-hold 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 help 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 organized the program’s operation.

2021  Passed pet custody legislation (5th in the nation). Bill provides judges with criteria in the consideration of the well-being of companion animals in determining custody in divorce proceedings. 

2023: Passed second-in-the nation legislation addressing animals abandoned by tenants. The statute allows landlords to require information from the tenant for an authorized person to remove and care for the animal in the case of death or disability. It also allows the landlord a process in removal and care of the animal. 





1999  Passed legislation to increase the penalties for animal cruelty from a misdemeanor to a felony offense with provisions for increased fines and imprisonment.  

2000  Led the revamping of the Animal Welfare Program, the hiring of a new AWP Director and State Veterinarian, and the creation of the Animal Welfare Advisory Council, to improve the response to animal cruelty in the state. 

2003  Ex-MFOA board director and a member form ‘Spay Maine’, a very successful program designed to reduce cat and dog unwanted litters and euthanasias, which was later administered by the Animal Welfare Program. 

2006  Passed first-in-the-nation legislation addressing dogs left outside 24/7, establishing greater safety and health requirements for those left outside on a continuous basis, and subsequently formed a ‘Dogs Chained for Life’ program. 

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.

2009  Passed legislation that included requiring certain criteria for transporting a dog in the back of a pickup truck.  

2010  Developed a 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 in the types of first-responders in protecting animals left in unattended vehicles if the animal’s safety, health and well-being appears to be in danger, notably in the summer.

2013  Passed legislation making post-conviction possession of an animal a criminal offense to increase the deterrent of repeat animal cruelty. The bill was passed in the House and Senate, but vetoed by the Governor. The legislation was reintroduced in 2018 under a new administration and passed.

2015  First-in-the nation “anti-puppy mill” bill to ban the sale of puppies and kittens in all pet shops in Maine. After similar legislative action as the above bill, a similar law was passed in 2018. 

2018  Opposed, with state spay/neuter advocates, repeated attempts by the industry to roll back the pet food surcharge that supports the Animal Welfare Program, particularly the state’s spay/neuter program. The most recent attempt resulted in legislators instead voting to increase the allotment.  

2018  Passed second-in-the-nation legislation, known as Franky’s Law, which provides the Maine court system the use of law students and lawyers to volunteer as advocates for justice in animal cruelty cases. 

2021  Passed fifth-in-the-nation pet custody legislation which provides judges with criteria in the consideration of the well-being of the companion animals in determining custody in divorce proceedings.

2023: Passed second-in-the nation legislation addressing animals abandoned by tenants. The statute allows landlords to require information from the tenant for an authorized person to remove and care for the animal in the case of death or disability. It also allows the landlord a process in removal and care of the animal. 








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