A firefighter for seven years, Jen Leary knows how frequently animals are the forgotten victims when disaster strikes. Thanks to organizations like the Red Cross (with whom Leary volunteered for nine years) and The Salvation Army, people can rest assured that if the unthinkable does occur, there are people there to help.
Leary wanted to extend that security to everyone affected by catastrophe, including animals, so she founded The Red Paw Emergency Relief Team in 2011 and has helped pet owners struck by disaster take care of their furry family members.
Since 2011 the organization has helped thousands of pets in need. There are over 500 volunteers working with the organization as veterinarians, transporters, and foster care providers. Deputy Mayor Gillison spoke out about the organization’s hard work during a ceremony in April:
Red Paw volunteers respond to all kinds of emergencies, conduct search and rescues for pets at the scene, transport displaced pets, foster the pets or find new homes for pets who can’t be reunited with their owners, and more.
They work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
“When [someone] loses everything in a fire, they shouldn’t then be forced to lose their pets–their family members–as well,” Leary told CNN. “Letting them know, ‘We’ll take care of your animal like it is our own,’ it means the world to people.”
A testimonial from the Red Paw website reads:
As a volunteer with Red Cross, I saw first hand the tragedy of families who had to either leave their pets in the burned out house or decline lodging from Red Cross. What a joy that a Philadelphia fire fighter had the idea, and enormous amount of energy, to start up this fantastic organization. Warms my heart every time I see the story of one of the Red Paw animal/family reunions on FaceBook. Also, all the money I donate goes directly to the care of the animals entrusted to Red Paw. There are virtually no administrative costs!
More cities need organizations like Red Paw Emergency, and the world needs more people like Jen Leary.