So CART can assist in rare and severe circumstances, but not in situations that endanger pets’ lives in Philly nearly every single week. (This past weekend, under threat of Hurricane Irene, was the first time OEM activated Philly CART.)
Portia Scott Palko, owner of Central Bark, former CART volunteer and outspoken local animal activist who was key in assisting Leary establish Red Paw, was surprised to find out that the organization she was volunteering for wasn’t designed to do what she thought it was designed to do.
“Windermere really opened my eyes,” Scott Palko says.
Fed up with the “politics” of CART, Scott Palko was happy to “switch energies” toward helping Leary get Red Paw’s list of cooperative organizations together, which includes PAWS, Society Hill Vet Hospital and City Kitties, among other organizations as well as individual foster parents. “I really can’t say enough about Jen’s drive and her refusal to take no for an answer,” says Scott Palko. “She saw this need and fought for it.”
For Leary, battling bureaucracy is nothing compared to watching pets and their owners suffer. During her work with the Fire Department and Red Cross, Leary’s seen it all: There was the time she rushed fire survivors to the vet in her own car as they administered oxygen to their dogs in her backseat—and the dogs died. She’s had to call medics for people suffering near-anxiety attacks after failing to save their pet before escaping a burning building. She’s seen owners tie dogs to trees and leave them in backyards for lack of anywhere for them to go while they get on their feet.
Though putting the puppies up for adoption is upsetting for the Joneses, it’s not nearly as traumatic as other possibilities. Back in June, a dog named Lizzy was euthanized when her owner went to jail after a fire. The same thing happened to cats that survived a fire out on Haverford Avenue the same month. These are the stories that lead animal activists to call Philly a disgrace.
Red Paw’s filling in a huge gap in disaster management. With Red Paw on the scene, hopefully these stories will become exceptions. Not only were the Jones’ dogs’ lives saved, but they were also spayed and neutered while in their care.
Meanwhile, as their search for a new house stretches into the fifth week, the Joneses are staying with a friend. They took the four adult dogs back. “They’re doing fine,” says Eva. “They’re healthy and having fun. They’re just happy that they’re back with us. They’re just happy to see me.” The two puppies, A.J. and Taz, stayed behind at Central Bark, where staff is putting in extra hours taking care of them as they await adoption.
“This is definitely a pilot program for Philadelphia,” says Leary. “But we’re trying to expand it soon. I’ve already had people in New Jersey ask for us to do it there. This could have national effect.”
Red Paw is seeking volunteers to help out with fostering animals. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4