PHOENIX — Lisa Martin turned the pain of losing her daughter into purpose by helping others.
In 2006, her 20-year-old daughter Ashley passed away in a car crash.
“She had a huge heart,” Martin said. “She was the type of person that was very caring and would do anything for anybody. I wanted to carry on that legend.”
Martin found meaning afterwards by volunteering at the Phoenix Fire Department with the Crisis Response team, where she attended to a variety range of 911 calls.
While out on calls, Martin recalled identifying a need—families with pets that were going through a crisis didn’t have a lot of resources for their fur babies.
“The fire department was there to help the families, but there was no help for the pets… so that’s how this came to be,” Martin said about Companion Pets in Crisis, an animal emergency response agency that she started in 2015.
The organization works alongside fire departments and the Red Cross, providing on-scene support to families and their pets who are going through a crisis situation, like a house fire.
“Our mission is to keep pets and families together in times of crisis,” Martin said. “Whatever resources they need, we have and can provide it to them.”
The animals they help range in type and size, from dogs and cats to snakes, fish, pigs, chickens, birds, and hedgehogs.
Martin said a pit bull mama, who suffered third-degree burns during a house fire when she entered the home trying to save her puppies, healed with the help of the team of volunteers, who assisted with vet services, temporary shelter, and pet supplies.
The group also helps families with after-life care and other resources, like cremations. They currently respond to emergencies around the Valley but hope to branch out to assist more families in need, which is why they are looking for volunteers.
“There’s a lot to get out of [volunteering],” Martin said. “They’ll get gratitude for giving back to their community and supporting a family that’s in crisis, and you’re saving a life. You’re preventing a pet from going into a shelter.”
Volunteers are needed to help with non-emergency duties — delivering pet food, supplies, and other resources when a family has relocated to a safe place with their pets.
“The fact that we can provide a little bit of relief gives them hope,” Martin said.