PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's Office of Emergency Management is shining a light on a volunteer organizations vital to the city's emergency response efforts.
The Red Paw Emergency Relief team was the idea of founder and former firefighter Jen Leary.
It all started with a thought about pets during and after a fire.
"Nobody is there to help the pets, to find them if they are missing inside the building, to provide emergency care on scene then transport them to a hospital," Leary said.
A 2011 apartment inferno that Leary herself was fighting became the catalyst for Red Paw. Now, the organization averages 800 emergencies a year.
"They are a gap filler for the city; we don't have the resources necessarily to provide support to every single person that experiences a crisis in the city, but these voluntary groups they do," Noelle Foizen of Philadelphia OEM said.
"Fires and disasters don't ever stop and because we are the only organization in the country doing this, we're the only ones people call," Leary said.
April is volunteer month and this so happens to be volunteer week.
Philadelphia's Office of Emergency Management wants the spotlight on Red Paw.
Funds go towards vehicles, transportation and emergency pet care like ER visits and oxygen tanks. They also need foster families.
Dee Dee, a dog saved by Red Paw and their honorary spokesdog, was nursed back to health by a loving foster family even with her injuries she sustained in a fire.
Red Paw Relief needs more volunteers like that and monetary donations.
Red Paw has found themselves covering Pennsylvania, New Jersey Delaware, and even New York, all for the pets, of every kind.
"We've gotten pot belly pigs, we've responded to West Philadelphia for horses, we've done all sorts of snakes, we took a tarantula to Penn Vet for smoke inhalation," Leary said.
For more information on Red Paw Relief visit Redpawemergencyreliefteam.org/.
And, additional information about National Volunteer Month is on the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management website.
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