CMDART – Central Massachusestts Disaster Animal Response Team


The Central Massachusetts Disaster Animal Response Team (CMDART, Inc.), is an organization committed to assisting the community with emergency preparedness for pets/animals and pet owners during disasters.  Since Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, requirements for animal disaster responders and teams have grown more demanding and, some may say, more restrictive. Disasters require volunteers who can maintain structure, skill, humility and strength in chaotic and traumatizing circumstances. National guidelines now call for trained responders. Volunteer training before the incident provides the tools to help do this. CMDART provides regular training classes and/or collaborates cross-training with other organizations.

Who are our volunteers?

Volunteers are people like you who care about pets and their community and are concerned about being prepared for emergencies. Our volunteers span the Central Mass region and come from various levels of expertise, abilities and talents. Team members have both personal and professional experience with a variety of animals, including family pets, farm and zoo animals, equines, exotics and reptiles. We are actively seeking disaster responders as well as volunteers to help with administrative and logistical functions of the organization.

What does a typical CMDART volunteer do?

There are two paths available for volunteers. It is possible to pursue both paths as a volunteer.  The Community Volunteer Path (Path A) provides an avenue for volunteers with the desire to participate without deployment. The Disaster Responder Path (Path B) trains and prepares volunteers to deploy in a disaster.


PATH A –  Community Volunteer

A community volunteer is active within the local community and does not respond to a disaster. This type of volunteer is important to the continued growth and development of the organization through public education efforts and to help advocate for personal and community preparedness for pets and their owners. CMDART is prepared to adapt your level of commitment and skill to our needs. You can work at the local level behind the scenes with tasks such as administration duties, phone calling, mailings, events and distributing CMDART materials to community sources such as veterinarians, emergency managers, animal shelters, researching fund-raising sources, making goods for events, cleaning and organizing equipment, etc. You can serve in a leadership capacity by serving on the Board of Directors. (more information about this is currently available here or on our Facebook page).

In the Community Path, volunteer may help with membership, fundraising, administrative duties, events coordinating and logistics. Some tasks can be done right from your own home such as data entry, making phone calls for functions or deployments, helping with mailings, making emergency pet go kits, grant writing, fundraising, website updates. Other functions may required you going out such as resource/ equipment management, towing gear and trailers, helping to liaison with towns and agencies, doing outreach to search for potential emergency shelter locations, facility assessments, public event education and outreach, assisting training classes or learning to train others for varied functions.


PATH B – Disaster Responder Volunteer

As a “Disaster Responder,” you are offered basic and advanced training to help equip you to respond in a disaster situation involving companion animal (dogs, cats, other small animals). Most of our disaster scenarios involve assisting owned pets and pet owners, so you need some skills working with people as well as animals.  We also offer large and farm animal training from time to time.

As a Disaster Responder volunteer, you are not expected to deploy to every disaster. There are specific core requirements for ALL disaster responder volunteers which are required. You must be 18 years of age to be an active disaster responder, however younger volunteers can train and do other duties. Some courses can be taken on-line, others are offered through CMDART or other partner groups. A disaster responder does NOT respond to a disaster unless asked to do so when contacted through the proper notification process.  We NEVER self deploy. We have job descriptions for many of the assigned roles or tasks you might be asked to fulfill in a disaster. 

As a disaster responder, you may be called, day or night, to assist with preparedness efforts or crisis situations. We recognize that not everyone can, or wants to, become a disaster responder.

Is disaster response right for me?

If you choose to be a CMDART disaster responder, you need to be comfortable with organized chaos, complete all CMDART volunteer paperwork, be in good physical health, and take Incident Command training. In addition to animal handling experience, one of the most important skills volunteers need to bring is flexibility. Disasters have a lot of unknowns for the clients and team members at various stages. Disaster responders need to be able to take direction from their leaders and be able to work cohesively in a group at every stage of the response. This is true during the pre-planning phase or when faced with confused and traumatized clients and animals during an incident.

What is the time commitment for becoming a CMDART volunteer?

We appreciate each and every hour our volunteers give to our mission. We recognize that members have jobs, family commitments and hardships and may not always be available. As a disaster responder, we hope that you can be available for several events (whether trainings, public education events, or response calls) throughout the year, and that you will prepare your work and family, including your pets, for the potential that you could be called to volunteer. Members are also encouraged to attend as many events as possible to help build team cohesiveness and to stay informed of changing practices.

In the event I am called to respond to a disaster, who is going to care for my own animals?

Volunteers must make pre-arrangements for their families, including pets and animals, in the event they are deployed. CMDART does not reimburse for any expense incurred for family, pet, or animal care.

What about liability?

Volunteers are trained to work within the scope of their respective practice, licensure, training, and skill level. Volunteers sign a waiver releasing the organization and its affiliates from responsibility for any incident that may occur during his or her time with CMDART, whether at a disaster response or other non-disaster event. As a volunteer, you are covered by the Good Samaritan and Volunteer Acts. However, it is also your personal responsibility to carry liability and medical coverage. Often, your Homeowners Policy will have a clause covering you for volunteer service.

Prior to responding to a call from a local town, CMDART requires that the town sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). These are generally completed in advance of an incident, during the planning phase of working with a town.

CMDART Training Requirements

If you decide to become a disaster responder with CMDART, there are basic requirements that must be completed before you are placed on the Call-Down list. The Call-Down List contains the names and contact information for trained volunteers who can assist with preparedness efforts and crisis situations.

CMDART is a disaster response team that aids animals and pet owners. Because of the strenuous, often challenging work involved in critical incidents, both CMDART and national organizations have established prerequisites for volunteers who wish to respond. CMDART believes it is important for potential volunteers to have an overview of what disaster work entails. We, therefore, offer a beginner’s course called “An Introduction to Animal Disaster Services”.

Following the introductory course, volunteers need to complete Incident Command Training (ICS). To strengthen emergency response, the government and those who develop emergency response systems have come up with a common language that they require all responders to know. Whether local, state or national, all are requiring that volunteers have Incident Command Training (ICS). This now includes animal response organizations.

You will be required to complete Federal Emergency Management Agency ICS 100 and 700 certifications. In order to deploy, CMDART volunteers must demonstrate basic and advanced levels of animal disaster response and must make every effort towards personal advancement by attending trainings and practice drills. CMDART offers this training in small groups, or volunteers can take these courses via the Internet. Once you take the training, CMDART maintains a copy of your completed certificate in your volunteer application file with our team.

The following courses marked with an asterisk* must be completed before you are allowed to deploy for local, regional or national incidents. We highly recommend that no one deploy without emergency animal shelter training. If you have verifiable experience in emergency animal handling and sheltering, please clearly note that on your volunteer application and to the instructor at the time of the Introduction to Animal Disaster Services course.


 If you wish to sign up for any of these courses listed below, please contact our registrar at [email protected] 


Once you have completed your courses, please send a copy of your completed certificates to [email protected] or fax them to 508-476-3531.

*CMDART Introduction to Animal Disaster Services*

* Incident Command Training (ICS 100)*

* National Incident Management Systems (ICS 700)*

* CMDART Basic Intake and Interviewing for Emergency Animal Sheltering 101 -We may offer Table Top exercises and short term simulations as a supplement to this training.

* Emergency Animal Sheltering – usually a one-day program

* Disaster Psychology (required when offered )

* Basic First Aid and CPR for humans and Pet First Aid (highly recommended when offered.)

Continue to check the CMDART website calendar and your emails for listings and notifications of upcoming courses and events.

Is there a cost to become a volunteer?

Currently, there is no membership fee required to join CMDART. Unlike some national organizations with larger budgets, CMDART cannot afford to pay volunteers for deployment expenses. Your transportation and expenses are considered your personal contribution to the organization and the disaster. Because we are a 501(c)3 charitable, non-profit, the government does allow you to take verifiable volunteer expenses, including mileage, as a tax deduction.

There are no membership dues, but all team members are required to attend our Introduction to Animal Disaster Services course no matter what path you take. As a private non-profit with basic operating and training expenses, we have to ask a fee for the course unless a town or organization sponsors a specific training. The cost to individual volunteers is $50 ($35.00 for the introductory training & materials plus $15 for a response uniform tee shirt and ID badge). Once we have a sufficient number of registrants, we book the course in convenient locations, dates and times to help reduce your travel costs.    Register for all trainings via our registrar at [email protected]

CMDART Application Materials

Please review all the membership requirements before making a commitment to CMDART. Remember, there are many ways to serve even if you choose not to do direct response. We sincerely hope that you will make the commitment by completing the required courses, attending meetings and participating in some of our activities and functions. We do hope that you can help build the foundation of our strong, growing team. We look forward to hearing from you.

As part of the application process, the following forms must be completed. No matter what position you choose with the team, all volunteers are required to complete this basic paperwork. (Note 3/17/17 – we are currently in the process of setting up forms that you can complete on line. This is a work in progress, so bear with us. ) If you cannot complete them here, forms can be e-mailed to :

[email protected]

Fax to 508-476-3531 or mailed to


 PO Box 1317, Douglas, MA 01516


  1. Application Download
  1. Volunteer Release of Liability Download
  1. Volunteer Welcome Agreement Download
  1. Rabies Waiver Download
  1.  CORI form Download

Please review all the membership requirements before making a commitment to CMDART. Remember, there are many ways to serve even if you choose not to do direct response. We sincerely hope that you will make the commitment by completing the required courses, attending meetings and participating in some of our activities and functions. We do hope that you can help build the foundation of our strong, growing team. We look forward to hearing from you.