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It's been quite a ride: Pet disaster response leader reflects on NRG's car donation

May 31, 2016

Time flies when you're having fun cruising in your new car!

Can you believe it's been a year already since Red Paw was granted a flagship response vehicle (RP1) from NRG Home, a brand new 2015 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid? RP1 allows our responders to literally save hundreds of lives. RP1 is crucial to our mission and gotten us through many long nights during our busiest year ever!  Before we got this car, we had an unreliable car, so there were a lot of stops on the side of the road. Now, we have a car that runs great. No worrying if we’ll make it to our destination. 

In case you’re not familiar with NRG Energy, in addition to helping power Red Paw’s mission, NRG powers people’s homes, businesses, and communities across Pennsylvania. They even power the Linc, the home of my beloved Eagles.

Within four hours of the dedication ceremony with NRG staff and Red Paw volunteers and supporters looking on, RP1 was called into action, providing emergency transport for a cat that had just been displaced by a kitchen fire in North Philly. It hasn't slowed down since! 

Our emergency response vehicle is used to transport displaced animals from residential disaster scenes to emergency facilities, along with transports to medical appointments, foster homes and most importantly reunions with their families throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley, and Southern New Jersey. RP1 carries vital equipment like bunker gear, flashlights and gloves needed for our responders to do search and rescue for pets missing inside burned out homes or collapsed buildings. It's stocked with oxygen and special oxygen masks for pets suffering from smoke inhalation and it's modified to keep the front and back seats divided for the safety of driver and pets.

As alluded to earlier, because our previous vehicle was very unreliable, prior to NRG's generous donation, we had to depend almost solely on our responders and transport volunteers to use their personal vehicles (and as one of our responders can tell you first hand, little stressed out fire puppies sometimes have accidents in the back of cars on their way to emergency shelter!) which wasn't always convenient, suitable or the safest way to transport a stressed animal. 

Since it hit the streets last May, RP1 has provided dozens of pets with emergency transport to hospitals for life saving care and transported hundreds more to safety; from fish and turtles, to parakeets and 150-pound Rottweilers. Red Paw was even part of the emergency preparations for the Papal visit in September. 

RP1, however, really showed its stuff during the blizzard that struck the east coast in January. As we like to say, "Fires and disasters don't take holidays or snow days, and neither do we." We are 24/7 and we need to respond regardless of weather. Many of our volunteers do not have vehicles appropriate for response in severe weather or they cannot drive their personal vehicles because roadways are reserved for emergency vehicles. Having our branded all-wheel drive response vehicle has made us able to respond effectively and efficiently during severe weather events. Not long after the blizzard, RP1 proved its importance once again during the flooding that occurred in Cape May County. Stocked to the gills with food and supplies, RP1 made several trips to the most hard-hit areas providing transport, emergency shelter, food, supplies and vet care for families with pets affected; assisting 30 families and 74 pets in just five days. 

The donation of our flagship response vehicle from NRG has literally saved more than 800 pets lives and kept hundreds of families together in the last year, in more than two dozen counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey!

Here’s to another year of being there when pets and their people need us most, thanks to NRG.


Jen Leary, President & Founder

Red Paw


Jen Leary

In 2006 Jennifer began her lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter by taking the entrance exam for the Philadelphia Fire Department. In May of 2006, she began working with the American Red Cross (ARC...

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