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What is Red Paw?

The following post is by Connie Griffin, Practice Manager of World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals

WOFA two dogs“What’s Red Paw?” is a question I am asked quite a bit. At this point I find it strange – how can people in this city not know about this organization?!! Friends, relatives, new employees, clients – dog people, cat people. What do you mean you’ve never heard of them??! They are on the news; in the paper; featured on CNN; have 30,500 friends on Facebook and still I get the question. But I enjoy giving them the answer. It is a wonderful non-profit that works like the Red Cross, but for animals, and comes to their rescue after a disaster, to help them when no one else will. They help thousands of pets since they began in 2011; get them vaccinated, spayed/neutered and sheltered until they can be reunited with their owners once more. Just as important, they give the owners peace of mind knowing that their beloved pets will be ok, so they can take care of themselves and try to put their lives back together. I take pride in being able to say that, “They are our charity”.

WOFA CatThen I remember back to 2012, I had just started working for World of Animals Veterinary Hospital when I met RP volunteers for the first time at a charity walk. It was pouring rain, and on their table in a crate, sat a very tolerant cat trying to stay dry under a precariously perched umbrella. It was those volunteers who first told me “what Red Paw was”. So it began slowly, with a donation bin set up for Hurricane Sandy victims and a “like” on Facebook. A couple months later I read a heart-breaking Facebook post. RP facilities were full, and unless a foster became available “Jade” a pretty brindle boxer would have to stay, chained up in the back yard of her burned out house. (!!!) That’s when I went to WOFA owners and asked if we could please keep her in our kennel in Huntingdon Valley. We had space, and it wouldn’t cost much – just some dog food and a little extra staff time. I had a very persuasive argument all ready to go when I heard: “Sure. It’s good karma.” Done.

Jade was our first RP dog. Sweet and lovey, she easily found her way into everyone’s heart by the time she went back home. It was such a positive experience for everyone, the owners and I felt like we were giving back to the community; the staff loved her and took pride in helping her; she was not only safe and fed but she was also having fun. Seeing the effect of helping that one dog, inspired us to help even more. At the next management meeting, WOFA owners told me to call Red Paw and offer them one run at our kennel, whenever they needed it, for free.

WOFA Noel and RedA few weeks later came a call from Jen, “Can you take two? They’re small.” Hmm, ok, so we got Red & Noel, two hyper Min Pins who ate more than most Rottweiler’s and ran around the play yard like Greyhounds. Eventually we were told their owners were putting them up for adoption; and one of our staff gave Red a permanent home.

Then came along Buddy & Poof, two fluffy little characters that had no idea how lucky they were to have escaped their house fire with their family, and they made themselves at home the first day.

Garfield – everyone on staff wanted Garfield – “He has a home,” I kept repeating. He was Chris’s kennel assistant following her around on her chores in a different sweater for every day of the week, and was later reunited with his family!

Princess, our first puppy, who just wanted to play, play, play – and eat anything that wasn’t nailed down. She reminded us how much work puppies are and gave everyone a newfound empathy for our clients with newly adopted pups at home!

And then there is our current Red Paw dog, tiny little Hershey, just content to snuggle up inside a receptionist’s fleece jacket and work off his stay helping at the front desk!

WOFA Dog in ShirtAll of our boarding dogs are loved and played with and spoiled by everyone at the hospital. They hang out at the front desk during lunch break and play in pools and sprinklers in the summer; get extra treats slid under the run doors when we lock up. But the RP dogs have a way of tugging at our hearts. Most are friendly, outgoing and sociable. Others are shy, nervous or fearful. A few are hyper and excitable, or timid and apprehensive. But each and every one is very much in need of our love, patience and companionship. Some stay with us for so long, one, two, three months at a time, that they become the staff’s collective foster dogs. Until it is time to say, “Good-bye”.

“What is Red Paw?” It is a question I will never tire of answering, for each time I get the opportunity to tell someone, who otherwise would never have known, about a wonderful organization of dedicated volunteers that comprise The Red Paw Emergency Relief Team.

The owners, doctors and staff of World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals are proud to be called a Red Paw supporter.

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