Two years ago today, Jen’s phone rang at 5:30 in the morning and so many lives have changed for the better since that moment. Because that’s the moment this organization was born and since that moment, Jen’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing, many people’s lives continue to improve and we haven’t stopped responding to the call for action. These have been the most rewarding (and exhausting) two years of our lives. Every single call has been a new and awesome experience because every single call gives us the opportunity to give a little love to another kitten, cat or dog, cats or dogs, snakes, parrots, ferrets, and sometimes, even a few turtles. They are all afraid and usually covered in soot when Jen or Kat or Dan or another responder brings them to our doorstep. Once inside and in the light, we often notice that they have fleas or are wheezing or sneezing just a bit because they’ve been hiding in a basement or under the porch for days, or exposed to smoke and water from the fire. Most often, their eyes are wide and swollen and they are always panting and really very scared and the most heart-breaking part is that you can see in their eyes that they are sad and that for this moment, their spirit has been broken.
It is our job to replenish that spirit, to make them comfortable, to try to comfort them, at least in the interim, and until their person can take them back home. Typically, their person and comfort zone is left behind at the scene, often torn because they do not want to lose their pet. As the hours pass and we can bathe and feed them, they usually let us love them a bit and that helps make us feel better, really, it helps us to reassure their people that they are going to be okay and that they are safe and warm. When it’s 3:30 in the morning and you just really want to sleep, or cry, or scream, it’s always during those moments, when it’s still dark outside that you can manage to get a little hug from a kitty and they begin to purr, or a tiny kiss from a dog. And truly, those are the moments that make this all worthwhile!
Our life, mine and Jen’s, has forever changed because of Red Paw. We are two people who have made a commitment to save animals and relieve some of the stress from a displaced person that has just lost nearly everything in the world. And you know, as often as we feel exhausted and like this is never going to work- mostly, we feel alive.
We feel extremely fortunate, as well, because of the animals and volunteers and our supporters who have become our family and make this commitment theirs, too. We are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by a network of amazing human beings! We are extremely fortunate to live in this amazing city, where good things happen every day because of the network of pet loving friends and families and businesses that support our life’s work. In addition, this city and the residents in the surrounding counties are also extremely fortunate to have Jen Leary. It is precisely due to her persistence and foresight that we have reunited and rehomed so many animals. It is precisely due to the dedication of our families and friends, our old friends and new friends that we can say, Red Paw has responded and fostered, rehomed, reunited and helped more than 500 animals.
During Hurricane Sandy, we experienced the generosity of people around the world, Australia, the UK and Germany to name a few! Here, at home, a classroom of five and six year old children from California made doggie biscuits to sell and donated $100.00 to help Red Paw. Another class at Francis Key Scott raised close to $500.00 for us and an eight year old and his cousins from Michigan collected donations and close to $2000.00. The family drove them to Maryland to meet with his Aunt and her son, Shane, an 8 year old who decided that all he wanted for his Birthday was to help those pets and their people that had been displaced in NJ and NY. They contacted us and then drove the kids and two minivans full of supplies here, to Philly, to give to us, we then delivered to different shelters in NY & NJ! These are just a few stories, there are so many more, which serve to create memories that remind me of the impact of what Red Paw’s volunteers are doing, how many people are supporting us and again, of how fortunate we have been during these past two-years!
It is nearly impossible to calculate the number of people to whom we owe thanks and praise! We can only hope that we can touch their lives in the same ways that they have touched ours. Together, we are helping create an even better next-generation of kids who will achieve even more amazing things than we can imagine, kids who get to grow-up with a pet as their best-friend, people who feel lonely that get to live out their lives with their beloved pets.
My name is Lori Albright and I am the Chief Operations Officer and the Chair of Red Paw. During the first year, following that first call, I remained very much in the background of this organization. Although I loved and took care of every animal that came into our care, I was extremely resistant to the whole idea. Today, I cannot imagine our life any other way.
The hundreds of supporters and volunteers that have helped us along the way have truly changed my way of ‘being’ in this world. So, on our second anniversary, I want to say thank you to every single animal and person that has touched my life during the past two years! Every family that has been reunited and every new family created out of this organization can collectively breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that Red Paw is here, that our support network just keeps getting stronger and that we have many, many more stories to share!