Disaster Preparedness

Be prepared to protect your pets in an emergency or disaster.

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Plan for your pet

Pets are more than just animals; they’re important members of our families! While September is National Preparedness Month, sponsored annually by FEMA, it doesn’t hurt to think about disaster preparedness any time of year. We never know whatever Mother Nature might have in store.

No matter what type of animal you may have, their safety is important during a disaster. Being prepared by having safety plan in place ahead of time will cause less difficulty, stress, and confusion when and if an emergency occurs. We’ve put together some resources to include in your family’s pet safety plan.

1. Updated Identification

If your beloved pet happens to get separated from you during an emergency, it’s important to always have their identification up to date. This is the quickest way to be reunited with them. Make sure your pet’s microchipped, wearing ID tags on their collar or harness, and that all information is up to date and correct. Almost any animal can be microchipped, and many places have easy and affordable tag machines that design and print an animal ID tag right on the spot. In fact, we have one right in our Adoption Center lobby for your convenience! In a pinch, an easy way to ID your pet is to write your phone number in sharpie on their collar.

2. A Buddy & A Backpack

During an emergency, having a close neighbor, friend, or relative ready to help care for or evacuate your pet should you be unavailable to do so is invaluable. Make sure this backup caretaker for your pet is familiar and comfortable with the animal (and vice-versa), and that they are aware of your pet’s feeding schedule, medications, behaviors, and habits. You should also have a pre-made an emergency kit (a backpack works great!) for your pet to leave with this caretaker. The kit should include all necessary items your pet may need.

3. An Emergency Kit

Having necessary items that you can grab and either take with you or give to a friend who is caring for your pet will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

Necessary items for your emergency kit:

  • Food & Water
  • Medications and Prescriptions
  • A Crate or Carrying Case
  • Copies of Vaccination & Veterinary Records
  • Animal First-Aid Kit
  • Backup Leashes & Collars w/ ID Tags
  • Recent Photo(s) of Your Pet
  • Grooming Supplies (brushes, nail trimmers, wipes, etc.)
  • Familiar Toys, Treats, Bedding, & Other Items
  • Food & Water Bowls
  • Poop Bags, Cat Litter, Shavings, Puppy Pads, etc.
  • Your Contact & Veterinary Information

4. Pet Friendly Accommodations

Calling motels, hotels, boarding facilities, and even vet offices outside of your immediate area to see if they can house pets can be a huge help during an emergency. Visit websites or call around to start making a list of hotels in your area are pet-friendly. You can start your search online at websites like BringFido.com. Keep this list handy in case your family needs to evacuate. Ask what pets they take, if there is a size, number, or weight restriction, if policies could be changed during an emergency, etc. Once the list is complete, if there ever is an emergency, you can call ahead and make a reservation as soon as you think your family might have to leave. Here in Maine, most Chambers of Commerce or local Visitors Centers keep a list of pet friendly accommodations. You can visit their website or call and ask for a visitors’ guide to be mailed to you.

5. Local Contacts

No matter the type of emergency, it’s always important to have updated and accurate contact information for:

  • your local first responders (911 and non-emergency contact information)
  • animal shelters (like AWS if you live in York County)
  • animal control officers (usually reached through the police or sheriff non-emergency number)

Bookmarking their websites and following them on social media is a great way to keep in touch during an emergency. These points of contact could help in a multitude of ways by providing information, safety, or resources for you and your pet during a disaster. Your County Animal Response Team (CART), part of your county’s emergency management agency may also offer resources. In times of great emergency, AWS partners with local emergency organizations to provide a safe haven for pets when their people must evacuate and enter a local emergency shelter.

Be sure to review your disaster preparedness plan from time to time and update as needed.


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𝐇𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲 𝐌𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐃𝐚𝐲! As a reminder, AWS' Adoption Center and Veterinary Clinic are closed today. Our staff and volunteers will be on hand to care for the animals, but we will not be manning phones or checking emails. We hope you and your canine friend can get out and enjoy the holiday, no matter the weather! 

Remember, it’s never a good idea to leave your pets alone in a locked car, even for only a short time. The guide below shows just how quickly the inside of a car can get dangerously hot, even in mild temperatures like today. That means that even “just for a minute” can be long enough to have devastating effects for your pet. In most cases, it’s best to just leave Fido at home rather than risk their health and safety. Let’s keep summertime safe and fun for all!
We have a Happy Homes story about a lovely little cat named Flora who reminds us that even the shy, scared, or timid pets deserve a chance at a loving home. More often than not, once an animal gets adopted, they blossom into a truly outgoing and friendly companion who just needed a home environment to shine! Here's what Flora's parents have to say about her! 

"Flora joined our family about two years ago, and has brought immense joy, comfort, and affection to us since then. The day that I came into to AWS, the member I met with mentioned that this blue-eyed beauty was very, very shy. Nobody other than those caring for her had any luck getting her to trust. With another shy kitty at home, I knew to enter the room cautiously. I remember that Flora was curled up in a corner under a cat tree. I quietly sat on the floor just to get a good look at her. She perked her head up, crawled over, and promptly laid down in my lap. If I hadn’t already had my heart set on her, that would’ve sealed the deal right then and there!
Now, this kitty is THE definition of a cuddle bug. She sleeps in her humans bed each night, purrs louder than any kitty I’ve ever known, and demands attention vocally if it isn’t given in a time deemed appropriate to her. She has two other kitty friends, along with her sister that she loves to play with, and she spends her days either lounging in the sun, or curled up right next to her people. Thank you AWS, for everything you do!"