Red Paw Emergency Relief Team

Red Paw has been a work in progress for many years and a direct result of founder Jennifer Leary’s (Philadelphia Fire Fighter and Red Cross Emergency Responder) experiences on the fire ground — time and time again, pets have been left with no organization to provide medical care in the event of a fire.

Two specific incidents sparked Red Paw’s birth. A few years ago, a two alarm fire in Center City resulted in the death of two dogs and a cat because there was not a procedure in place to help them. Responding with the Red Cross, Leary was there and saw the owners carrying the dogs in their arms screaming for help, but no one was there to help them. Leary then used her personal vehicle to rush them to Penn Veterinary Hospital (while the owners were giving them oxygen with equipment borrowed from a medic unit) where they later died.

The second incident occurred in January 2011 at a three alarm fire at an apartment complex in West Philly. Cats were being taken out of the building in laundry baskets and rushed to the shelter without crates or emergency vet care. Dozens of cats were trapped in the building for weeks afterwards.

Shortly after that fire, Leary brought her proposal for Red Paw to the American Red Cross — to work in conjunction with their responders when there are pets on scene. Eight months later Red Paw was born. The humans have the fire department and the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance and now their pets have Red Paw!

In our first year of service, we responded close to 200 times and provided emergency transport, shelter, long term fostering, emergency vet care, on-going medical care and free food delivery to the fosters and rescues for over 350 pets. We also worked within our network to get over half of the Red Paw animals spayed/neutered and vaccinated, at no cost to the owners, along with providing transportation to and from the facilities. Red Paw has reunited 75% of our families with their beloved pets and adopted 25% to loving forever homes.

Our mission is to assist displaced pets and their people 24/7, free of charge and to ensure that all family members are taken care of during a disaster at their home.

      » 63% (69,000,000) American families have pets
      » On average there are 3-4 residential fires in Philadelphia every day
      » There are resources available to support families (people) in disaster situations
      » Nothing exists locally to proactively rescue animals in residential disaster situations
      » Animals are often left homeless or perish

We are a 501(c) (3) emergency services nonprofit organization that works in conjunction with the American Red Cross SEPA Chapter and other public and private businesses, disaster relief, social service and animal welfare organizations to provide emergency transport, shelter, and veterinary care to animals involved in residential fires and other incidents. We work within a network that includes veterinary care facilities, boarding facilities, kennels and training facilities, animal rescue groups and fosters in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

Currently, 90% of our calls are from the American Red Cross. The Disaster Action Team responder calls their emergency call center, the Bridge. The Bridge then calls Red Paw and informs us that there is an animal at a scene. A call gets sent out through One Call Now to our member list stating what the needs are at the scene, for example emergency transport and vet care. The appropriate Red Paw responders report to the scene and meet with the family or individual and their pet(s), the clients sign a waiver and then our responder proceeds to provide service. We also receive calls from the Salvation Army, Animal Control, PSPCA, and the client themselves. However, any individual or organization affected by disaster can call us 24/7 for assistance.

Below is a list of ‘Wish List’ items that can always be put to use. If you’re in interested in making a Wish List donation, please contact us to arrange a drop off.

» Flea medicine
» Cat food
» Cat litter
» Cat carriers

» Litter boxes
» Cat treats
» Dog food
» Dog treats
» Leashes
» Muzzles
» Lysol wipes
» Gas cards
» Petco & PetSmart gift cards
» Stationery
» Printer ink
» An official Red Paw vehicle!

Learn more about Red Paw Emergency Relief Team by visiting them online at

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