The following post is by Melanie Cardell, Red Paw volunteer and cat foster parent
I use Quakertown Vet Clinic as my regular vet. I love them dearly and follow them on Facebook. One day nearly two years ago they started posting about dogs that needed foster care after they had lost their homes to a fire. As a volunteer firefighter myself for 14 years their story was particularly interesting to me. One of the dogs, Dee Dee was very sick and I wanted to see how she made out, so I started following a group called Red Paw Emergency Relief Team.
I read up on them and found out that they basically came to be because of a big apartment fire in West Philly. I remember the fire clearly as I was working at West Philly High School at the time. I had seen on the news about all the cats that needed help. I have always had a love for animals, even smuggling a kitten into my dorm room at Temple. My cat had passed away a few months earlier. He was the first pet I had gotten when I moved out on my own. I had another cat and even she seemed to be sad about his passing. He was a large black and white lover of a cat.
After following Red Paw for a little while and considering fostering a couple of times the day came when they had a super busy day and really needed fosters to step up. I filled out the foster application and had several phone calls with different people to get set up. Turns out I wasn’t needed for the first foster cat. The next post about a cat I was all over it. I coordinated with Kat to meet at my job and pick up Mickey there. When I peeked in the cage and saw a black and white cat I knew it was a perfect fit.
I brought Mickey home and kept him separated from my cat because I wanted to see how everyone would do. After a couple of days I actually cried because he seemed so sad and upset being kept apart. I thought how I would feel if my babies were away from me. I hugged him and decided that if he wanted to be part of the family he could be. To my surprise he fit in perfectly. Delivering Mickey back to his owner was an awesome day! She was so excited to see him. It made all the trials we went through worth it. Around the same time a branch of the Bucks County SPCA opened here in Quakertown. I immediately started volunteering there. I had contacted Red Paw and said the next cat that needs a foster I will do it. AJ was the next cat that I got. What an awesome cat! My foster kittens were in love!
I had to take a break from Red Paw due to being diagnosed with a brain tumor and needed to have surgery immediately. It took me a little while to get the green light to start running fire calls again. When I did one of the very first calls was a house fire that had two dogs and two cats. Despite the fire company, the police, and Quakertown Vet’s best efforts we still lost one of the dogs. I told the chief that Red Paw could help the family. By the next day Red Paw was placed on stand-by for the dog and cats. I was in awe of how my worlds were colliding. A few days later we had another fire and again Red Paw was placed on stand-by for a cat.
I thought it over and decided to volunteer to take the cat if needed. That foster situation did not pan out, but a new opportunity presented itself. There were two cats that were too scared to be in the cat room and need somewhere that they could calm down and show their true colors. They came here and I could not be happier. I love fosters that need some extra attention. I picked them up from Jen and have loved them as my own ever since. About a week or so later I go to a training class put on by Animal Lifeline at the SPCA and a lot of Red Paw people were there! So excited to have my Red Paw world and SPCA world collide.
Over the course of the past year and a half I have been able to do a bunch of transports, including the famous cat Princess and some of her kittens. I have also been able to visit and take goodies to a dog named Diamond who was staying at a kennel near me. I have had several opportunities to meet the Red Paw ambassador, Dee Dee, and my current fosters even got to have a sleepover with her. I love that dog! Plus if it wasn’t for her ending up at Quakertown Vet Clinic I never would have found Red Paw. I just love how important things in my life, the firehouse, the SPCA, and Quakertown Vet all have a connection to Red Paw and are intertwined.