The Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is an emergency services, nonprofit organization run by firefighters that works in conjunction with the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, the Philadelphia Fire Department, the American Red Cross, and other public and private disaster relief organizations to provide emergency assistance including search & rescue, emergency transport, shelter, and veterinary care to animals involved in fires and other residential disasters.
Our mission is to provide relief and recovery for displaced pets and their people 24/7, and to ensure that ALL family members are taken care of during and after a disaster in their home.
- To provide emergency services to animals displaced by disaster situations, including fires, flooding, gas leaks, building collapses, hurricanes, etc. and to keep families together
- To impart education on best practices and guidelines concerning responsible pet care including the importance of veterinary care, training, exercise, socialization, and companionship
- To promote community awareness of fire prevention and emergency preparedness guidelines to include pets
- To uphold accountability and maintain a presence in communities and keep our supporters informed
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 emergency assistance or 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. In 2013 Red Paw was added to the City of Philadelphia’s Emergency Response Plan. The humans have the fire department and the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance and now their pets have Red Paw!