Red Paw Emergency Relief Team works in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia's Office of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross to provide 24/7 emergency pet rescue when disaster strikes. Red Paw’s founder, Jennifer Leary, served as a firefighter for seven years and a Red Cross volunteer for nine years. Through her experiences, she became increasingly aware that animals were often forgotten and neglected in the wake of a catastrophic event.
Leary responded to two specific incidents in 2011 that ultimately resulted in the birth of Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. The first was a two-alarm fire in Center City that resulted in the death of two dogs and one cat because no procedure existed to help them. In a second incident, dozens of cats were trapped in an apartment building for weeks after a three-alarm fire in West Philly. Leary submitted a proposal to American Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to pets on the scene of a disaster. Within eight months, Red Paw was born, and in 2013, Red Paw was included in the City of Philadelphia’s Emergency Response Plan.