PARIS — A plan to provide shelters for pets as well as their owners during an emergency has moved along this year with the establishment of a site at Oxford Hills High School.

In August, a test emergency exercise was held to bring together pets, the Red Cross, the Oxford County Response Team, a ham operator and volunteers from the Oxford County Animal Rescue Team.

About 20 cats and dogs took part in the exercise, said Scott Parker, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

“Our CART (Community Animal Response) team is a model for the state. It has taken us three years,” said Teresa Inman, exercise planning assistant with the county. She said Cumberland, Knox and Lincoln counties have set up similar emergency shelters for pets since Oxford County initiated its team.

The idea to provide a safe shelter for pets as well as people was prompted by the ice storm of 1998 as well as Hurricane Katrina.

The first shelter in Oxford County was set up in 2007 in the Mollyocket School; the second at Buckfield High School in 2008.

The Oxford Hills site is located in a portion of the Region 11 School of Applied Technology, which is part of the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School site. Plans are to eventually set up shelters that will accommodate both people and pets in each section of the county.

Next year, plans are to set up such a shelter at Sacopee Valley Middle School in Hiram, then one in the Rumford area soon after.

— By Eileen M. Adams

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