By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The local chapter of the American Red Cross is hosting five days of disaster training courses.  Among the classes: how to care for animals in a disaster.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Red Cross invited members of the South Philadelphia-based Red Paw Emergency Relief Team to its disaster training institute.

Lori Albright (at right in photo), chief operating officer at Red Paw, talked about rescuing and handling animals, providing disaster relief to families, and even a business model on how to start up other Red Paw chapters in other parts of the country.

Ron Quay (seated at left) is a Red Cross volunteer who is moving to Colorado and wants to help extend Red Paw out west.

“People don’t want to leave their animals, but sometimes they have no choice,” he explained, “(such as when) an animal gets out and takes off because it’s scared.  It happens quite a bit,  So now that I’m learning this stuff, maybe I can be more of a help.”

More than 500 people are attending classes that include training on FEMA’s Incident Command System,  mass casualty response training,  and public affairs and social media training.

“They are all advanced level disaster classes, so they are really hard-to-get classes,” says Leo Pratte, regional disaster officer with the American Red Cross.  “So what we try to do is gather all the hard-to-get classes at one time and then bring  a whole bunch of people together at once so we can hold these classes.”