PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A popular organization that has saved thousands of pets from disasters is shutting down. Philadelphia’s Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is responding to its final calls.
When Tuesday’s floodwaters were overtaking the Eastwick and Manayunk sections of Philadelphia, the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team was there.
“What we can do that regular residents cannot do in these situations is send our responder across that caution tape,” Lori Albright, the COO of Red paw Emergency Relief Team, said.
For nine years, Albright and founder Jennifer Leary, a Philadelphia firefighter, along with a team of volunteers have provided relief for pets and their people displaced by disasters.
“We do at least two to three calls each and every day,” Albright said.
But come Oct. 1, the nonprofit, which operates alongside the Red Cross and city emergency departments, will be no more.
“We were originally going to announce at the beginning of the year, but we were hoping, holding on hope that we could get in the budget hearings this year and then the pandemic hit and we couldn’t,” Albright said.
Albright says the organization, which has rescued around 8,000 pets of all kinds from residential disasters, simply could not survive on donations without a more consistent financial backing.
“It feels horrible for us, this is not something we wanted to do,” Albright said. “This wasn’t the goal.”
The hope now? That another municipality might feel inspired by the Red Paw model and go to provide pet rescue services of their own.
“Here’s the blueprint, take it and implement it,” Albright said.
So could Red Paw start up again in the future? Eyewitness News was told no, not as it currently exists, but that their services could return — if enough supporters were to reach out to city leaders and a pet rescue program was added to the city budget.