The following post is by Dan Crain, a Red Paw Emergency Responder for Philadelphia
It’s never hard to find where you’re going when you’re responding for Red Paw. Rolling up on West Oak Lane I came upon the strobes of the Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments and pulled up on the corner. The second I stepped out of Red Paw 1, our response vehicle that’s fully equipped with everything from leashes and food to oxygen, someone came up and asked me if I was the guy from “Red Paws.” They led me to the owner of Max, a German Shepherd/Pit Bull mix who was sitting down with an old friend of mine from the Red Cross going over some of their paperwork.
An aside: One of the great things about responding here in the city is the community that comes together at each tragedy. Time after time you see the same supportive faces, from the Fire Marshall to the Red Cross to the Salvation Army. Relationships are made and favors are exchanged in order to best help the clients at that scene. I’m very happy to be part of the Red Paw team that has become one of those faces.
Once Max’s owner finished with the Red Cross, she turned to me and I explained to her the assistance that Red Paw could offer. She was so grateful that Max would be somewhere safe and sound while she was able to figure out where she would go in life after this fire. She told me all of Max’s likes and dislikes, including that the poor guy hated the dark, but was back inside their house as we spoke. I went in with the owners, applied a leash to the big boy and slowly walked him down the darkened stairs. Once outside, Max was more than happy to assist the Firefighters that saved him by checking out their fire hydrants for them.
After saying our goodbyes and his owner promising to call and check in on him, Max and I sped off to Operation Ava, a safe, warm (and well lit!) place for him to call home for a couple of nights. As a responder, my job ended there, handing off his case to the Red Paw team, who made sure that he got a visit to the vet and some kennel housing until his owners were able to take him back. While I wasn’t there when Max and owner were united once more, our Red Paw crew took some pictures of their owners and the balloons and bones they had ready to greet Max on his return. Those photos of light and happiness make going out and being there during the darkest and most tragic times all worth it.