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Fire season

Fire Season is upon us! If you follow us on Facebook, you see us posting these two words a lot and if you follow us on Twitter then you see it as a hashtag: #fireseason.

tweet

But what is Fire Season? Well, when we Googled “fire season” the top result was the 2012 young adult science fiction novel by American authors David Weber and Jane Lindskold, about a cat who adopts a human and patrols the forest for fires! Cool and hey, cats and fire are kinda in our realm! book coverConsequently, for our Red Paw responders, fire season is our reality and it’s all too real! Fire season means different things in different areas; in hotter parts of the country/world, fire season is during the dry season, while for us in Southeastern PA, fire season is in the winter! And this fire season has been a doozy! As if you needed proof, in January alone, we responded 47 times and assisted 88 displaced pets!! Our volunteers have been out responding during multiple snow and ice storms, power outages, and freezing temperatures!

So, why is the SEPA region, especially Philly, hit so hard with residential fires during the winter? We get asked this question a lot! Well, there are several reasons. fire sceneEspecially in Philly and in most older cities, where you have a large population of people living in very close proximity to each other, most are in row homes, so when one house catches fire, the adjoining houses are also affected. You also have a larger number of older houses, which means old wiring and less electrical sockets (so more extension cords are used), old furnaces, and deteriorating construction, all which cause or are related to residential fires. Also, cities have a larger segment of the population who may not be able to afford heat, so people are trying to keep warm by using candles, space heaters, and/or ovens to keep warm! All are fire hazards!

Fire Season for us typically starts around November and with any luck will end in March. So we just have to get through another month or so! With another winter storm and frigid temps headed our way, we wanted to leave you with a few helpful tips to get you through safe and warm:

  • Wear extra layers to stay warm
  • Use extra blankets
  • Have batteries for your flashlights
  • Don’t use candles!
  • Be sure you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home!
  • If you have to use space heaters, make sure they are 3ft (in all directions) from combustibles
  • Do not heat your home with your oven! It’s warm but often leads to carbon monoxide related deaths
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector in your home!

For more info on how you and your pets can stay safe, visit the Preparedness tab up to your right!

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Santa’s little helpers

Red CupWe at Red Paw love anything RED! You all know how much we love the RED Cross! And anyone that knows me personally knows how much I love Starbucks and how excited I get about RED cup season! And then there is Santa Claus; he wears RED! Santa is obviously an animal lover – look at all those pet portraits he does this time of year – and his main man is…Rudolph the RED Nosed Reindeer! So you’ve gotta love him, right?! We do, but we take issue with Santa’s poor fire safety habits.

Let’s start with the way he enters a home by sliding down a chimney. Really?! That is very, very dangerous! Not only could it be lit or have hot embers in it that could catch his red suit on fire, but he could track them around the house and then leave them to smolder. Then there’s the way he puts all those wrapped presents under the Christmas tree without even checking to see if it’s properly watered first. If there is a short in the lights there are a whole lot of flammable materials that could ignite. And the pipe he smokes – he’s just asking for trouble carrying that around with him! Not only is it bad for his health, but to be smoking it around all those kids he deals with? SantaKids love to play with matches and lighters. Santa should know better! And lastly, the milk and cookies – Santa expects to have fresh baked cookies at every house. Cooking is one of the leading causes of fires during the holidays. He should follow the example of his reindeer and try something that doesn’t require an oven! Mmmmmmm, carrots. 🙂

This holiday, make sure to be one of Santa’s little helpers (See what I did there?!…Google it). If you must use your fireplace, be sure it is completely out before you go to sleep. Remove all embers and put them in a metal, airtight container outside and away from your home. Make sure you water your tree everyday and that the lights are new and not cracked or worn, and make sure to place matches and lighters in a safe place where kids can’t get to them. If you do decide to leave Santa those fresh baked cookies, be sure your oven is clean, keep little hands and paws away from it while it’s on, and set a timer to remind you to turn it off.

The other RED things we love are fire trucks, but we don’t want to see them at your house!

Have a safe & fire free holiday! From the Red Paw Team!

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Football and fire safety

The following post is by Jen Leary, Founder of Red Paw Emergency Relief Team

jenandmarionI love football! My sister and I grew up watching it, played touch and flag most of our lives, and even played a couple of years in the Women’s Professional Football League. Those of you who volunteer with Red Paw during football season know that this is true! I schedule meetings around Monday Night Football, I refuse to do tabling events on Sundays during football season, and my only day off during the week is…Sundays! It’s the best time of year! As I’m writing this I’m watching the Saints get killed by the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

I’m sure you’re wondering, what does this have to do with Red Paw?! Sports are a part of us; we grow up watching them, we join teams and play on them, and we learn values from them that we carry with us throughout our lives. footballdiagramWell, football and fire safety are two things I’m VERY passionate about (just read my last blog post: http://redpawemergencyreliefteam.org/fire-prevention-month/) and they aren’t all that different. At their core, they teach us three important values; they are both all about preparation, planning, and practice…and both have fun little graphics with dotted lines and x’s (see images)!

firediagramEvery team has a QB – the captain, the leader, the one the players look up to. YOU have to be your family’s QB! So, even if you don’t like football (although, I don’t see how that could be possible!), being a leader is something that YOU can do to keep your family safe.

Let me break it down for you:

Preparation: Every great football QB watches film, and they know before they ever step on the field what defense they are up against. They know the most successful plays to run, the stats of the other team, the players, and the defensive line-ups.

eagles2Just as it’s important for a QB to know which defense he and his team are up against, you, as your family’s QB, need to have the plays ready for your family’s fire safety plan. How? You can “watch film,” meaning, do your research, know what dangers exist in your home, learn how a grease fire could potentially happen and how to prevent electrical fires, especially this time of year, know the steps to take to keep your Christmas tree from catching, know the safest space heaters to use and the distance they should be from other objects, and most importantly, know the proper places to have working smoke alarms…this is your home field!

Planning: Once the QB goes over the film, then it’s all about planning, what signals to use, which offensive plays to run…same for you as the QB of your family’s fire safety plan! Once you’ve done your research then it’s all about the “play calling.” Make sure your family has identified two means of egress (two ways to get out of the house/apartment) during a fire. Make sure you assign someone to be responsible for small children, older adults, and pets in case of fire. This is where your escape plan differs from a game: while it’s not ideal for the QB on the field, it is absolutely necessary to make sure your windows and doors are left unblocked! familyIn addition, if you have bars on your windows or doors, make sure that they have a quick release (which is ideal for a pro QB!). And be sure to have a family meeting place outside your home where you can all huddle up if you need to leave your house due to a fire.

Then comes the most important part to any great team – Practice! Practice, practice, and more practice! You and your “team” need to practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year! Your “players” need to check your smoke alarms once a week if they are 9 volt batteries and once a month if they are 10 year lithium, practice meeting at your family’s meeting place and include ALL family members on the practice field, including pets. Practice rolling out of bed and feeling the bedroom door before you open it. Practice getting your cats in carriers or pillowcases quickly. Call some audibles, and change up the possible problems that may cause the plan to change in a fire. It will be chaotic, so make sure to ask questions like: what if the stairs are blocked?! Don’t just practice these things during the day; practice at night or on a Saturday afternoon when everyone is around but distracted…but not during football of course! 🙂 Preparation, planning, and practice can save your family. Remember, it’s not a game!

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Partnership is the key to preparedness

The following is a repost of an earlier post by Red Paw’s Chester County Coordinator and Chester CART volunteer, Paula Carmichael in conjunction with Volunteer Management Coordinator for the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Janet Zeis, in honor of National Preparedness Month

At Red Paw, we are all about partnership! We could not do what we do without them! Last year during our One Year Anniversary, we gave our first Partnership Award to the American Red Cross, SEPA Chapter for the amazing support and assistance their volunteers and staff give to us everyday! This year for our Two Year Anniversary, we will give the Partnership Award to another one of our partners (I know the suspense is killing you but you’ll have to wait and see who it is).*

Red Paw responds to all 5 counties in Southeastern PA, so having partners we can rely on all over the region is key to our success! We have no better partners anywhere than we do in Chester County, with the Chester County Animal Response Team (CCART). With Hurricane Season in full swing we though it’d be a good idea to explain how the CART’s and Red Paw work together to further the common goal which is to include animals in every facet of disaster planning and emergency response.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd claimed the lives of millions of animals in North Carolina and thousands more were separated from their owners. Many of these animals could have been saved by a coordinated response plan. From this tragedy, the State Animal Response Team (SART) concept was born. In 2004, Pennsylvania adopted this concept to address its animal-related disaster response needs.

The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PASART) was created through a private-public partnership to serve as a unifying network of organizations, businesses, federal, state, county and local government agencies, and individuals that supports the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for emergencies affecting animals. Because disaster response needs to happen at a local level, PASART builds County Animal Response Teams (CARTs) across the state. County coordinators are selected to lead the development of county teams consisting of volunteers who will respond to emergencies at the local level. In essence, the CARTs were set up to do large scale disaster response and sheltering for animals and they work closely with the American Red Cross to set up co-located pet shelters during these disasters.

baldwin_jen

A lot of the CART volunteers are also Red Paw volunteers and we all cross train together. This helps the team members who are able to assist disaster survivors by taking care of individual or small family groups of animals. As the scale of the disaster increases, the lead agency role shifts to CCART who strives to make disaster shelters operated by the Red Cross “pet friendly.”

When Hurricane Sandy struck, two pet friendly shelters were set-up in Chester County. Preparedness is always the key, and as a team, we were ready. Having just gone through a comprehensive shelter training class, the team immediately put the insight and skills to work. During the days of the storm, and as members of the community came to the shelter for comfort and safety, they were greeted by a caring team, who are fellow members of the community, who organized a safe haven where families could feel comfortable and assured that they AND their pets, the entire family, would be safe.

At the conclusion of any sheltering effort, there may be unmet needs. While it was not needed in Chester County following Sandy, some survivors in Philly, Bucks and Montgomery Counties needed additional help with their pets because they couldn’t immediately return to their residences. The lead shifts back to Red Paw who was ready to come to the forefront to provide longer term foster care, transport, vet care and supplies for the families in need.

Come visit us at any fair or festival (where often times we are sharing a table) and you will receive information about the importance of preparedness for yourself and your pet. You will also hear about the system of fosters that Red Paw has in place and how Red Paw works with so many partner agencies. By sharing members, equipment, and resource lists, both organizations have worked hard to improve the capability to respond. By working together, Chester County, along with all of Southeastern PA, is a model for a more resilient community for pets and the people who love them!

For more info on CART go to www.pasart.us.

*The Partnership Award went to Central Bark Doggy Day Care Philadelphia!


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Only one way to arrive…PREPARED

The following is a repost of an earlier post by Kat Kendon, Red Paw’s Philadelphia Coordinator, in honor of National Preparedness Month

kat

You learn quickly as an emergency responder that there’s only one way to arrive on the scene – prepared. I’ve arrived to find owners holding their pets with no collars, leashes, or carriers; responded for a displaced cat but left with four; and waded through a pitch-black flooded basement searching for newly born kittens. One recent response put preparedness to the test.

A client lost her home to a fire but knew her cat was still in the building. I arrived on the scene just as it was beginning to snow. Luckily, or so I thought, the cat was in the bedroom and should’ve been fairly easy to grab. I found the clients keeping warm in a neighbor’s home, and she offered the first surprise – her cat, who was pregnant, sounded like she was having kittens right before they lost their home. Gulp. One cat had suddenly turned into an unknown number, and momma cats just love to hide their kittens. I went back to the truck – thank goodness I had the bigger carrier with me. I grabbed my flashlight and headed in with the Red Cross responder.

tabitha

As soon as we opened the door I knew this one wouldn’t be simple – the house was completely destroyed. The walls in every room were completely coated in soot. The ceiling was crumbling, leaving soaking clumps of plaster and lath all over the floor. The stairs were the worst off – the crumbled walls made them into more of a hill than stairs. The inside of the first floor was pitch black, so climbing the stairs was like climbing an icy mountain. At midnight. With no moon. Sneakers would have been treacherous – but my heavy duty responder boots were up for the challenge.

kat_kittens

Climbing up to the second floor, I quickly realized that “in the bedroom” was a loose idea. At least the restoration companies hadn’t arrived on scene yet, so there was a bit of light coming through the holes where the windows had been. All of the windows in every room were shattered, glass was everywhere, and the doors were off their hinges. Getting down on hands and knees to look under furniture seemed crazy, but I had heavy leather gloves to protect myself from all the broken glass.

Vision can only take you so far – cats can get into the deepest and darkest corners. Sweeping the flashlight around the room, I was straining my ears for little kitten meows. I heard nothing other than water dripping through the soaked building. I started to think that I might end up finding kittens who hadn’t made it through the intense smoke of the fire…but I kept looking. The Red Cross responder guarded the top of the stairs in case I ended up flushing a scared cat out during my search.

tabitha_kittens

By the time I got to the third room, my optimism was starting to flag. I hadn’t even seen a sign of the cat or her litter – no paw prints in the soot, and no meows. But just when I was thinking it was time to make a new plan, I noticed a mirror leaning up against the wall, and behind it…a little bit of tail? I pulled the mirror back to find a frightened cat, and incredibly, still pregnant! I scooped her up and quickly got her to Red Paw headquarters, apparently just in the nick of time, where she went into labor within her first day in Red Paw care.

Both RP1 and my truck are fully stocked for all types of responses – when Red Paw arrives on a scene, we rarely find exactly what we had planned for. Tabitha, Elaine, Rory, Bagheera, Pif, and Firefly are one surprise that we arrived prepared for!

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Furs Friday

The following post is by Sue Garfinkel, member of the Red Paw Leadership Committee working on strategic planning and relationship building and leading the Furs Friday charge

FliersFive months ago, I was sitting with the newly formed Red Paw Event Committee at the Melrose diner having a very disappointing cheeseburger listening to a free-for-all of ideas for our inaugural fundraiser. It was rat-a-tat-tat of ideas like; Red Paw Movie Night and Red Paw Beef & Beer (well – veggies and beer anyway – lots of vegetarians in this group!) and just as I was thinking that we were all on such different pages, Chumley Singer, a close Red Paw friend, and event planner extraordinaire, threw out the idea of ‘Furs Friday.’

“We could do Furs Friday” he said – “like First Friday…we’ll ask people to send in photos of themselves and their pets and we’ll also invite celebrities to submit photos with their pets and we can hang them all on the wall and have a photography show…” and I interrupted – (very unlike me) “Stop. GalleryThat’s it. That’s the one.” Cause at that moment, I could actually see a gallery full of people spilling out on the street saying things like, “ Wow, that was so great!” and “that was so much fun!” and “what a wonderful organization – I didn’t even know they existed, I am going to support them immediately!”

Flash Forward 5 months later and Furs Friday is coming together like clockwork and I am having one of the best experiences of my life.

What makes me not wake up at night and ask ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ is that Furs is such a WINNER of an idea for such a WINNER of an organization! Who doesn’t want to show anyone that will sit still long enough a picture of his or her pet? Who doesn’t want to support an organization that is doing work that no other organization is doing – a ‘Red Cross’ for your family pet? Who doesn’t want to come out on a balmy late September Friday evening and see some really great photos of Philadelphians and their pets Planning meetingblown up and hung on a gallery wall while having some delicious food and drink? No one apparently, because everyone has said yes! It’s almost surreal.

One of the most fun parts of Furs is asking notable Philadelphians to participate by submitting pictures of themselves and their pets. I love asking for things. And asking for things on behalf of Red Paw is a no-brainer! Most people call me crazy, but asking strangers for something, (strangers who must get hundreds of requests a week,) is fun.

SueThe best part is when I craft an email to a person that I have zero connection to, like Seth Willams, DA of Philadelphia or Dawn Timmeney, Fox TV Anchor or Marty Moss-Coane from Radio Times, and put out the “ask.” I try to put myself in their shoes and figure out how to get them to say yes, how to word the request just right so they get what an incredible organization this is and how much fun it will be for them and us to have them participate. Then I hit send and wait. And wait. And wait a little more. (I’m a good wait-er!) And then, I get that email that says they would LOVE to participate and bingo – they are in. And here’s the very best part – Not only are they in, but also they now are aware of Red Paw. Furs Friday is not just about Friday September 27, 2013, from 5-9pm at The Rosenfeld Gallery, and not even about raising money as much as it’s about building awareness of an organization that helps relieve people’s heartache and stress by taking care of their pet family members when disaster strikes. Now, that is fun in my book.

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Anderson Cooper’s Special Report

Anderson and Anderson

My name is Anderson Cooper. They (the people who rescued me and my family from the fire in our home) were calling me Justin for a little while but now they call me Anderson. I think it suits me. And everyone tells me I look like “THE” Anderson Cooper! I’m around 6-7 weeks old and as far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a reporter, just like the real Anderson Cooper! It just seems to come naturally to me. For instance, during the fire on Lippencott St, where my family and I were displaced from our home, I was watching everything that was going on and reporting back to my mom, Jingles, and my brothers and sisters, so they wouldn’t be as scared. I’m very inquisitive and never stop moving and I’m always exploring my surroundings. These are good traits for a reporter, I’ve been told!

The night the fire in our house happened we went to what is called the University of Pennsylvania Vet Hospital. It was really bright and noisy and there were lots of other animals there, and it smelled kind of weird, but that was fine ’cause so did we! There were so many nice doctors and vet techs there, I felt like a rock star! They kept ogling at us and telling us how cute we were! I tried to pay attention and take it all in, listening, watching, and I learned that this place was just for emergencies. Red Paw, the people who rescued us, were worried that we were sick because of the fire, something called smoke inhalation, so they took us there. I’m glad they did cause that is where I got the idea for this story!

Anderson posing

My mom and brothers and sisters and I have never gone to a doctor before. Honestly, before the fire I never even knew what they did. I wanted to compare and see the difference between the emergency hospital we had gone to after the fire and a vet hospital, where I learned, we should go for wellness checks. So, yesterday, my foster moms took me and my family to the VCA Cat Hospital. This is different than the hospital we went to after the fire. This is the place where dogs and cats go for regular check ups. It was much calmer and quieter than the emergency hospital. They put us in this little room all together. They checked out my mom for a while, took her temperature (which did not look like fun!), they listened to her chest, felt her belly, weighed her and took some blood from her. They also asked a lot of questions about her diet, when she was spayed and vaccinated and her energy level, you’d think they were doing the reporting!! After they were done examining my mom, it was my turn! To be a good investigative reporter you have to be willing to dive into your work, so I let them weigh me and look at my eyes and ears. I have to be honest, I was not looking forward to the thermometer! Luckily, they didn’t need to use it! They must have known I was writing everything down!

These last few weeks have been eye opening-no pun! Bringing new kittens like me to the vet right away is so important. We need to be de-wormed and we need our vaccinations so we don’t get sick and a good flea treatment regimen as soon as we are big enough. Anderson at the vetRight after we were rescued, our fosters gave us all a bath in this stuff called Dawn soap. We did not like it at the time, although the bubbles were fun, but I understand now why they did it. We had what they call fleas and could have gotten flea anemia, which could have made us very sick and lethargic. We also could have gotten what is called parasites, it’s what makes your tummy hurt and makes it hard to for us to gain weight and keep food down.

The vet said that we will have to be de-wormed again in 2-3 weeks and that we should start to get our vaccinations and in a few weeks we should be old enough to get spayed and neutered. Where I come from many cats don’t get spayed and neutered; my mom had four litters of kittens before me and now, even though she’s only three or four by the looks of her teeth, she has some health issues that Red Paw is handling. Today, we don’t weigh quite enough to be spayed and neutered but believe me, I now know how important it is to stop the overpopulation of cats and for all around general good health. Tomorrow we will start our vaccinations at PAWS and meet some more really cool doctors and vet techs. This place is even different than an emergency or a vet hospital, so I can’t wait to report on our family trip to the clinic! I can’t say I’m looking forward to it but I’ll be happy once it’s done and it helps us to feel good, so I can keep on reporting!

Thanks for reading and good night!

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My love/hate relationship with emergency response

The following post is by Jen Leary, Founder of Red Paw Emergency Relief Team

ClientEmergency response is not for the faint of heart nor the weak-minded – especially when you are a volunteer. It takes a special kind of person to be on-call 24/7 because volunteering means that this person should be available and prepared whenever the call comes. And I mean, whenever! To volunteer means that you are lying in bed, half-asleep, waiting for the phone to ring all night, to volunteer means to leave a restaurant just as the food you ordered is arriving to the table, to volunteer means to leave a movie theater just as the movie you’ve wanted to see begins to play, to volunteer means to drop everything in the middle of your day, and the hardest one for me: to volunteer means to get out of bed at 3:00 in the morning, in the middle of winter and leave your warm bed with your warm dogs behind you.

Full disclosure: I am not a night person. I found this out almost 8 years ago when I became a disaster action team (DAT) responder for the Red Cross. My first few shifts it turned out that I was on-call at night. I quickly realized it was not for me and switched to days, which I was informed needed more volunteer help anyway. So it worked out for everyone! Currently, I am the Saturday Day Captain for the SEPA Chapter. I’m also a Philadelphia Fire Fighter. VetAt the PFD we work four days on and four days off, two day shifts and two night shifts…again with the night shifts!! I had such a hard time adjusting to working nights. I am just not a fan! I do not like being disturbed – even if only half asleep – in the middle of the night, especially to loud bells and bright lights and people yelling at you! For years at the fire house I’d do what we call “iron mans”, where I would stay up the entire night and sit watch. Of course the guys loved it because it meant they could all go sleep! You ask anyone who does shift work and they will tell you that you never really get used to it but there are ways to adjust to it and I did.

Queue Red Paw. Since we started on July 25th, 2011, I’ve been on-call almost every day for two years. With the help of our Philadelphia Coordinator, Kat Nania, we’ve averaged six responses per week, which pretty much means every day for two years one of us has had to leave a restaurant or a movie or drop everything in the middle of the day or get up in the middle of the night. As Red Paw has grown, our volunteer base has grown and so have our teams, but, most importantly, so has our call volume. We can’t do it alone, so we have built teams in all five counties, we have identified coordinators and trained volunteer responders that we can rely on when needed. SceneConsequently, because our organization delivers emergency response and because Southeastern PA is a lot of ground to cover! Response volunteers are so important, they are the core of our organization and they enable Red Paw to provide services to our clients and me to get some sleep! 🙂

By this point you are probably thinking to yourself, “Boy did she get into the wrong line of work!” or “There is no way I’m ever volunteering for that!” But here is the bottom line with an organization like Red Paw or the ARC: we are the “boots on the ground”, we are the first face that a client sees after their house just burnt down and everything they had is gone, we are a select few of specially trained volunteers and we are the only ones who can help them at that moment, however, we have to choose to volunteer first and foremost. With Red Paw, we arrive on the disaster scene and we protect what is often the only thing people have left in this world, their pet, their family. Two years ago, when Red Paw did not exist, many families were leaving their pets in burnt out homes, they were forced to surrender or to abandon their pets. Or worse, their pets sometimes perished because of lack of assistance. This does not happen anymore in Southeastern PA because we, as volunteers, choose to leave our dinner tables, our lives, our families, our warm dogs, in the middle of the night, to help someone else’s! This is why I volunteer to be on-call, this is why I volunteer to be a responder, this is why this is the life I choose. In the end, it is not always easy, but it is more than worth it every time.

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Midnight and Louie find a furever family

The following post is by Angus McGill, Red Paw foster and adoptive parent

cuddlingAnti-social, mischievous, villainous, evil; all words Sarah may have used to describe cats just over a year ago. I loved cats, however, growing up we always had at least one and I missed having one around. To get Sarah better acquainted with cats, I suggested that we foster for Red Paw. I figured that by introducing her to a couple different cats through fostering, we were bound to get one that she would enjoy having around (or at least warm up to them in general).

So we signed on with Red Paw and very shortly received the first cat that would come under our care. By the time I got home from work, Sarah was already smitten with the tiny black cat, which also happened to be up for adoption. We knew that this was going to be our cat that first night.

Midnight followed Sarah around all throughout the day; this was clearly Sarah’s cat. Midnight did not care much for me, and to be honest, I was not too crazy about her. I suggested we foster again so that maybe I could find a cat that might be my little buddy. We fostered a couple cats but Midnight just did not get along with them. lap timeWe were fostering a cat named Denver for a while and he and I really got along, but the conflicts with Midnight were just going to make the whole experience tough. We eventually found him another home and he was adopted. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we were probably just going to be a one cat family that would foster when we could.

Then Louie came.

I am not sure how old Louie was when he came to us, but he was fairly small, with stubby little legs and a big head. He had a striking mackerel coat that was silky smooth. This was a handsome cat and I just knew his owner would want him back. Over the next few months the owner struggled to find a home that would allow cats, so Louie stayed and grew with us. We slowly introduced him to Midnight and they seemed to, at least, tolerate each other. By the time we heard that Louie was going to go up for adoption, he was a different cat. He had grown quite a bit, but more importantly, he had become part of our family.

couchSarah and I talked it over and decided that Louie had a good chance of finding a great home with another family. Although it was tough, we had to give him that chance. Sarah brought him down to the adoptables room, and that’s when it hit her. She saw that Louie just could not understand why we were letting him go, and that is what it took for us to realize the same. When I got home from work, Sarah told me how scared and how upset he was and we really had to consider taking him in. And I was already sold, Louie was my little buddy and I wanted him back.

We rushed downtown to get to the shelter before it closed and picked up Louie and brought him home. Since then, Midnight and Louie have started to play together and Midnight has even warmed up to me. I think she knows we make a better family this way too. So within the year, we went from cat skeptics to cat owners, all thanks to fostering with Red Paw.

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Are you prepared?

Angelique FlynnHi, I am Angelique Flynn, Donor Liaison for Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. I am also a Marketing Representative for SERVPRO of Burlington/Mt Holly and a former evacuee of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. I have been drawing on these experiences for my blog at SERVPRO, focusing on Hurricane Preparedness and Information, with links to outside sources. There are key points that I share with my family and friends and would like to share with all of you. According to the National Weather Service, they are responsible for providing us with watches and warnings, but we are responsible for our level of preparedness before the storm ever approaches. Awareness is the first step towards minimizing damages. I urge you to read A Preparedness Guide, issued by NOAA, at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, I have a quiz for you to get you thinking about how prepared you really are for an emergency situation.

If you don’t know the answers to some of the questions, visit Ready.gov or your local Office of Emergency Management for tips and resources that can help make sure you, your family (whether they have 2 legs or 4), and your community are Ready.

  • Does your local government have an emergency or disaster plan for your community? If so, do you know what it is?
  • Do you know how to find the emergency broadcasting channel on the radio?
  • Does your city/county have an emergency alert system? Is so, are you signed up to get alerts?
  • Do you know your local evacuation routes? How would you get out of town from work? How about from home? Do you know which hotels on your evacuation route are pet-friendly?
  • Does your city/county have a Citizen Corps Council? (If you don’t know, visit www.citizencorps.com)
  • In the last year, have you prepared or updated your Emergency Supply Kit with emergency supplies like water, food and medicine that is kept in a designated place in your home? Are your pets’ supplies also in your Emergency Kit?
  • In the last year, have you prepared a small kit with emergency supplies that you keep at home, in your car or where you work to take with you if you had to leave quickly? Do you have extra leashes or pet carriers with that kit?
  • In the last year, have you made a specific plan for how you and your family would communicate in an emergency situation if you were separated? Have you had your pet microchipped in case he or she gets lost? Have you updated your pet’s ID tags? (Review Pet Emergency Preparedness for additional information.)
  • Are you prepared to help your neighbor? In most emergencies, the best way to get help quickly is by working with your neighbors. Do you know anyone in your neighborhood who might need a little extra help preparing for or responding to an emergency? Do you know anyone in your neighborhood who might watch over your pet (one who is comfortable with your pet and whom your pet is comfortable with) if you cannot make it home?
  • Have you established a specific meeting place for your family to reunite in the event you and your family cannot return home or are evacuated?
  • In the last year, have you practiced or drilled on what to do in an emergency at home? Have you identified the rooms in your home that offer safe havens for you and your pet for all of the various climatic situations that could occur in your geographical area?
  • In the last year, have you volunteered to help prepare for or respond to a major emergency?
  • Have you taken first aid training such as CPR in the past five years?

If you are like me, you probably don’t have the answers to a lot of the questions in our quiz. Now is the time to seek out those answers. There is no impending doom coming towards our area as I write this, so it is in our nature to assume that no threat will ever come. I like to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. With a little thoughtful planning now, we can be ready for whatever comes our way all year long.

For more information on Pet Preparedness tips visit the Red Paw website: http://redpawemergencyreliefteam.com/pet-preparedness/

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