Time is running out for Philadelphia's Red Paw Emergency Relief Team

ByAshley Johnson WPVI logo
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Time is running out for Philadelphia's Red Paw Emergency Relief Team
Red Paw has saved thousands of pets when flames consumed homes in Philadelphia. But now they need to be rescued.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In Philadelphia, it's called the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, and if you haven't heard of it, it probably means you haven't had a pet whose life had to be saved from a fire or some other catastrophe. But now Red Paw needs to be saved.

Red Paw, a non-profit emergency response organization that serves more than 675,000 pet owners in the city, is on the brink of shutting down in just a matter of weeks.

It's now sparked a call for action among City Council. It's been a long 9-year run for just a two-person team working around the clock to save families' precious pets during critical times.

"You're watching everything that you love be destroyed. 99.9% of the people say, 'Oh my god, my cat is in there, or my dogs are in there, I need them,'" said Red Paw COO Lori Albright.

A fire scene in New Castle County, Delaware Tuesday morning just so happened to put on display the type of work Red Paw does in Philadelphia as firefighters treated a rescued cat with a specialized pet oxygen mask.

A letter signed by all 10 council members addressed to Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel urges Red Paw Emergency Relief Team's protocols into the Philadelphia Fire Department or Office of Emergency Management.

Since 2011, Red Paw has helped close to 10,000 families and rescued more than 8,000 pets.

"Unfortunately fires disproportionately affects people who don't have many resources to begin with, so legitimately these are only things they have left," Albright said.

While part of the issue is funding, another big reason is Red Paw needs more hands. Only trained firefighters can do the job.

"We were running with one responder, one car for the entire city for 365 days a year," Albright said.

City Council proposes to create and train a team of six current Philadelphia firefighters. Council members say it won't increase the budget. Red Paw will support the transition.

"We want to train up the members. We have supplies, we have resources, we have the protocols in place. We're ready to go," Albright said.

Commissioner Thiel said in a statement, "We are disappointed and working with several partner organizations to find a solution before October 1."

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