Red Paw Emergency Relief Team

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Red Paw Emergency Relief Team
Red Paw Emergency Relief Team logo.png
Founded2011 (2011)
FounderJennifer Leary
Headquarters1328 S 24th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Area served
Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania
Key people
Lori Albright (COO and President)
Donations and grants

Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit emergency service dedicated to helping pets displaced by house fires and other residential disasters.[1] Their goal is to reunite pets with their families once they have recovered and reduce the number of animals surrendered to shelters due to sudden hardship. The team works with local chapters of the American Red Cross,[2] fire departments, and other disaster relief organizations to provide search and rescue, emergency transport, veterinary care, shelter and supplies for affected pets, at no cost to their owners.[3]


Red Paw Emergency Relief Team was conceived as a pilot program to develop a new kind of emergency response resource for animals.[4] In 2006, the United States Congress recognized the importance of including pets in mass disaster planning with the passage of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, but no similar provision exists for victims of smaller scale disasters at the household level.

Founder Jennifer Leary states that she was inspired to start Red Paw while a firefighter with the Philadelphia Fire Department after seeing how little help was available to pet owners in the aftermath of devastating house fires.[5] Many local relief organizations offer temporary housing assistance for displaced people, but none include accommodations for pets. In particular, low income and uninsured families faced the difficult decision of leaving their pets behind in the ruined fire dwelling or surrendering them to animal control.

In 2011, Leary presented a proposal to the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania for an emergency service that would respond with the Red Cross and other relief agencies on the scene of household disasters where pets were involved.[6] After months of preparation, Red Paw officially launched on July 25, 2011, and had its first clients—a family with six pit bull terriers—in a matter of hours.[7]

In spite of the Red Paw pilot being originally intended to serve Philadelphia exclusively, demand from surrounding suburban counties caused the group to expand quickly beyond the city limits.[8]

For her efforts in establishing Red Paw, Leary was profiled by CNN as part of its CNN Heroes series in 2014.[9]

In March 2014, Red Paw Emergency Relief Team was added to the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management’s disaster plan.[10][11]

On April 24, 2014, the Philadelphia City Council honored Leary with a resolution for the founding of Red Paw and the organization’s contributions to the community.[12]

In the summer of 2014, the Office of Emergency Management requested Red Paw’s assistance to shelter neighborhood pets during the controlled implosion of the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Queen Lane Apartments on September 13, 2014.[13]

On April 13, 2015, the City of Philadelphia recognized Red Paw volunteers for National Volunteer Week.[14][15]

In May 2015, Red Paw received a grant from NRG Energy subsidiary NRG Home for a new lead response vehicle.[16]

On April 10, 2016, the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management declared Red Paw its "volunteers of the week" for National Volunteer Week.[17][18]


Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is a volunteer-based organization that responds 24/7, 365 days a year.[19] It operates mainly in the Pennsylvania counties of Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware, with some services extended to neighboring counties and states in the Delaware Valley.

Red Paw is called when residents with pets are displaced by a disaster affecting their home, such as fire, flood, collapse, explosion, natural gas or carbon monoxide leak, or other hazardous incident.[20] The team provides search and rescue, emergency transportation and veterinary care for injured animals, and temporary boarding assistance.

While in Red Paw care, animals receive wellness exams, vaccinations, and spay/neuter services, free of charge. Pets are then placed with volunteer fosters until they can be reunited with their owners.[21]

For specialist services, the team maintains partnerships with animal care providers - including veterinary hospitals, kennels, boarding and training facilities - in every county that it serves.[22][23]

In addition to providing emergency relief, Red Paw conducts volunteer training and public outreach and participates in fire safety and animal welfare events.[24] The organization makes extensive use of social media to report its activities, promote emergency preparedness, fund raise, and recruit volunteers.[25]


A 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is funded through donations and grants. The team's leadership consists of two full-time staff and seven volunteer coordinators, who manage client and animal casework, fostering, adoptions, in-kind donations and events.[26] Two per-diem emergency responders perform search and rescue and transport animals from the disaster scene. Red Paw's eleven-member advisory board is composed of representatives from the emergency services and animal welfare communities. A network of 500 volunteers train as emergency responders and support the team by fostering pets, staffing events, and transporting animals and supplies.[27]


  1. ^ "Red Paw Mission". Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  2. ^ American Red Cross (August 31, 2012). "Red Cross and Red Paw Emergency Relief Celebrate Partnership" (Press release). American Red Cross. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  3. ^ "Pa. Group Gives Helping Paw to Displaced Pets". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Barnea, Matan; Nowak, Erin & Trainer, Megan (Winter 2013). "Innovation Responds: Red Paw Emergency Relief". Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (16). Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  5. ^ Shaw, Steven (October 27, 2011). "Scuttlebutt 12/11: Firefighter Lends a Helping 'Paw'". Firehouse. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  6. ^ Ferguson, Gailynne M. (August 8, 2013). "Red Paw Emergency Relief Team Is Prepared for Upcoming Disasters". Berks-Mont News. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  7. ^ Murtha, Tara (August 31, 2011). "Emergency Relief Team for Pets Launches in Philly". Philadelphia Weekly. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  8. ^ Donahue, Bill (May 2013). "Pet Project". Suburban Life Magazine. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  9. ^ Toner, Kathleen (April 21, 2015). "Former Firefighter Rescues Pets in Disasters". CNN Heroes. CNN. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  10. ^ Moran, Robert (March 9, 2014). "Red Paw Emergency Relief Gives Critters in Need a Hand". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Kruger, Josh (January 5, 2015). "Red Paw Relief Team Continues to Grow—and Needs Your Help". PhillyNow. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  12. ^ City Council of Philadelphia (April 24, 2014). "Resolution No. 140369". City Council of Philadelphia. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  13. ^ Red Paw Emergency Relief Team (March 2015). "Red Paw responds (9/13/14): Queen Lane Apartments planned implosion". Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved April 19, 2015 – via Storify.
  14. ^ NBC10 Staff (April 14, 2015). "Red Paw Pet Rescue Volunteers Recognized by City of Philadelphia". Philadelphia: WCAU-TV. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (April 14, 2015). "National Volunteer Week: Philadelphia Honors Red Paw Relief Team". Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management. Retrieved April 19, 2015 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ "New Car for Red Paw Relief Team Presented near Windermere Fire Site". West Philly Local. May 15, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  17. ^ Kolakowski, Jeffrey (April 11, 2016). "Red Paw Emergency Relief Team: Volunteers of the Week". Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  18. ^ McCormick, Annie (April 13, 2016). "Red Paw Emergency Relief saving pets, looking for volunteers". Philadelphia: WPVI-TV. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  19. ^ Geringer, Dan (January 6, 2015). "Red Paw Rescues Pets from Disaster Scenes". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  20. ^ Gordon, Bruce (October 22, 2014) [October 08, 2014]. "Red Paw Offers Pet Rescue to Animals in Need After Disaster". Philadelphia: WTXF-TV. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  21. ^ Beavers, Cary (June 21, 2013). "Helping Pets in Need: When Tragedy Strikes, Red Paw Is There as a Best Friend to Lonely and Distraught Animals". Bucks Local News. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  22. ^ "Friends". Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  23. ^ "What is Red Paw?". Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  24. ^ Krowchenko, Leslie (August 6, 2013). "Red Paw Aids Displaced Pets". Delco News Network. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  25. ^ Red Paw Emergency Relief Team maintains:
  26. ^ "Our Team". Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  27. ^ "Volunteer Opportunities". Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved June 3, 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°56′08″N 75°11′03″W / 39.935604°N 75.184281°W / 39.935604; -75.184281