Animal Welfare Society Transport Manager Jen Adkins gets to know one of the Florida cats shortly after some of them arrived at the shelter last Thursday in Kennebunk. SUBMITTED PHOTO

KENNEBUNK – Last week, the Animal Welfare Society accepted 15 cats from hurricane-ravished Florida.

After the long journey, the cats will be assessed at the AWS Community Veterinary Clinic, receive any necessary vaccines, treatments and surgeries and go up for adoption by late October at the AWS Adoption Center, 46 Holland Road in Kennebunk. The cats range from a handful of young kittens to 11 adult cats ranging from 2- to 8-years-old.

This rescue effort, a lifesaving collaboration between the Jacksonville Humane Society, Brandywine Valley SPCA of Pennsylvania, Best Friends Animal Society of Utah and of Washington brought more than 100 cats from Florida. They all flew to Delaware, courtesy of Wings of Rescue, where some stayed in local shelters while the rest were transported to New England, in the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s transport trailer.

These cats were in Florida shelters, available for adoption long before the storm hit. With the upheaval of the community, families are not in the position to adopt a new pet as they rebuild their lives. In addition, many folks need temporary shelter for their own pets when they were displaced from their homes.

By receiving cats that were already in Florida shelters, AWS helps free up space in the Florida shelters to take in local strays and hurricane-displaced animals.

“It’s been inspiring to see the animal welfare community come together to help homeless pets impacted by Hurricane Michael,” said Adam Lamb, Brandywine Valley SPCA CEO. “In this particular rescue mission, many organizations collaborated to not only save more than 100 at-risk cats but also cats separated from their families in the storm that now have a safe place in their local shelters so their families can find them. We’re grateful to AWS for taking so many of these cats, on top of all the hard work they already do every day, to get them to the final stop of their journey with loving families.”

Abigail Smith, the Executive Director of AWS, agrees.

“We are pleased to work with regional and national partners, like Brandywine, to assist in the Hurricane Michael relief efforts to save pets’ lives,” Smith said. “We thank our community for their continued support of our mission, by adopting and by providing the funding needed to care for pets in need.”

Smith said that while these cats won’t be available for adoption for a week or so,  the public can immediately support them in two ways.

“One would be by adopting a cat that currently is available at AWS. That will clear up a kennel space for us to help even more cats from natural disaster zones,” Smith said. “The other way – and the way that would make the biggest impact – would be with a financial gift. Your donation would directly support the veterinary and daily care these cats – and all our animals – need to be healthy and happy pets.”

Smith said she urges the public to visit AWS to meet the cats that are available now and to keep an eye on AWS’ website for the Florida cats to become available.

Once they are ready for their new homes, they will be listed at

The Animal Welfare Society, a non-profit organization, exists to provide humane shelter and care to companion animals temporarily in need of housing, to assist in disaster response, and to further the cause of responsible animal adoption and ownership through education and public awareness. The society actively promotes kindness, the elimination of cruelty to and neglect of all animals, and the lifelong commitment of people to their pets.

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