Helping Animals Affected by Disasters
Picture it – there’s a fire at your house. The Red Cross is dispatched. Thankfully, they can give you a place to go, clothing, medicine, food but have to make other arrangements for your beloved pets.
Many people, especially those in low-income areas, are left begging friends and neighbors to take Rover, or wondering if Fluffy will survive in the hallowed out building.
After witnessing an elderly woman refusing to leave a burnt out building because she couldn’t bring her pet; people risking their own safety going back to the scene every day to feed their cats; and families crying because they had to leave their dog to fend for itself, Philadelphia firefighter, Jen Leary, founded the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team.
Think of it like this – it’s the Red Cross for animals.
When the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania responds to a disaster and a pet is involved, they call Red Paw.
Red Paw dispatches emergency response volunteers to the scene to provide emergency assistance and find a temporary foster to care for the pet until the family is back on their feet and even finds a new forever homes should the person’s resources not allow them to keep take their pet back.
All of this is free – they’ll even have the pets vaccinated, spayed/neutered and provide general wellness maintenance while in foster care. Though only in Southeastern PA right now, the group hopes it will be a model to expand across the country.
“We think we’ve got a good thing going here,” said Leary. “Our greatest hope is that we’ll be able to expand outside of the Philadelphia area and eventually become national, allowing people all across the country to have the peace of mind that their pets are cared for as they’re recovering.”
Founded just a year and a half ago, they’ve already helped over 300 animals – from dogs and cats, to ferrets, parrots and turtles – with emergency transport, shelter, vet care, fostering, money to stay in a pet-friendly hotel or adoption.
The group even organized a pet food drive for those affected by Superstorm Sandy. Its volunteers collected eight truckloads, one 40-foot trailer and one 20-foot trailer of supplies and donations. They then delivered it to various shelters in New York and New Jersey.
“We have a wonderful group of volunteers who genuinely care about the welfare of animals,” Leary said. “They see the vision and know we can do great things.”
For more information or to donate to Red Paw Emergency Relief, visit www.redpawrelief.com. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redpawteam. Twitter: @redpawrelief