By Stan Bush

DENVER (CBS4)– When the fire erupted in the building under construction at 18th Avenue and Emerson Street on Wednesday, multiple families were frantic to find their pets.

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It’s not uncommon when disasters happen. Unfortunately, there often isn’t an easy way to help those victims while they’re out of their homes, especially those who are worried about what will happen with their pets.

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But, a new non-profit hopes to solve that issue so pet owners will have one less thing to stress over.

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Amanda Lomena is the founder of Respet, a network of volunteer families that are willing to take in dog for the victim of a crisis, instead of having the dog housed in a shelter.

CBS4’s Stan Bush interviews Amanda Lomena (credit: CBS)

“This gives the opportunity for someone to get through their crisis and claim their animal when they’re done,” says Lomena. “It’s better for the animal and the human so it’s saving more than one life.”

Lomena got the idea after spending a year-and-a-half working with a crisis hotline. She says people who were deeply depressed needed help with their animals and didn’t know where to turn.

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“People were suicidal but they didn’t want anything to happen to their animal, yet their animal was the only thing keeping them alive,” says Lomena.

The same help, she say, would also benefit the victims of disasters like fires and extreme weather events.

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Lomena says she already has a dozen volunteer families, but needs more. Demand from Denver to Colorado Springs is already overwhelming and with the Front Range facing a potentially volatile wildfire season, she hopes more people will step forward before the next disaster strikes.

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“I think everybody has the ability to leave the world a little bit better than they found it.”

LINK: Respet

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Stan Bush is a general assignment reporter at CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 10. Read his bio and follow him on Twitter @StanBushTV.