New Hampshire man devotes retirement to saving animals

Lyman Pope might be 85-years-old, and he might be retired, but the New Hampshire resident’s work is far from over.

German Shepherd Maximilian and his owner Lyman Pope, who has donated thousands of dollars to animal shelters. (Photo: Jim Cole/AP)

Pope has worked very hard all his life, but found financial success in the real estate business. At the age of 45, Pope used the $17,000 he’d raised himself and a $22,000 loan from his mother to purchase a manufactured home park in Somersworth, N.H. The business flourished, and is still in operation today, run by one of his two sons.

But Pope wasn’t content to spend his retirement relaxing. Instead, the lifelong lover of dogs, cats, and all animals large and small has decided to dedicate his time helping animals in need — and the New England shelters that care for those homeless pets.

Dogs had always played an important role in his life, specifically German Shepherds. But one day in 1999, when Pope decided to pay a visit to a nearby animal shelter, saving homeless animals became his life’s mission.

“If you care about dogs, you know once they arrive at an animal shelter, they’re in some trouble,” Pope explains.

The shelters that care for these homeless pets are always in dire need, too, he says.

“The shelters are always in trouble. They never have enough money,” explains Pope. “It doesn’t take long to become empathetic, very sympathetic, because it’s a difficult thing for the people who manage them and for the animals who are in there.”

He couldn’t believe the sheer number of unwanted, abandoned, and abused pets at shelters, so Pope decided he wanted to do something about it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and three shelters in Maine, Vermont, and now Concord, N.H., Pope is making a huge difference. So much so, in fact, that two of the shelters now bear his name.

The Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County, Maine, and the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter in Orleans, Vt, have already benefitted from Mr. Pope’s generosity. And his newest project, a 7,700-square-foot shelter for the SPCA in Concord, N.H., is currently under construction. Pope donated $525,000 toward the new shelter facility. Pope has also pledged an additional $500,000 gift to be given to the SPCA after his death.

“I made my money in real estate, and I’ve been spending it as fast as I could ever since,” Pope jokes.

The Knox County shelter also hopes to build a new state-of-the-art facility, and unsurprisingly Mr. Pope is helping them make their dreams come true, too. He’s offered to match all capital campaign donations to the Rockland, Maine, organization received by the end of the year up to $100,000.

Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County Executive Director Tracy Sala says Mr. Pope is heavily involved in making the shelter a better place for the animals.

“He’s been to all these shelters, and he knows what works and what doesn’t work,” she says. “He tells you what you’re doing well and where you can improve, so he has raised the bar.”

“He’s been walking the walk for so long, and you’d be foolish not to listen to him,” Sala adds.

“Lyman has been wonderful,” board member of the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter, Betsy Hampton, tells the Concord Monitor of Mr. Pope. “He is really the one and only person who has been with our shelter since the very beginning.”

For more information on donating to either the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter or the Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County, check out the organizations’ websites. If you’d like to check in on the building progress at the new Concord SPCA site, check out builditbowl.org or visit the Build it Bowl Facebook page today.

Sources: Concord Monitor, Humane Society of Knox County