A Florida firefighter who helped rescue cats and dogs from a massive fire at an Orlando animal shelter has made one of the felines he saved a part of his family.
Brett Maneri said firefighters found Mia the cat hiding behind a cat condo in the burnt aftermath of the blaze that destroyed the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando shelter this week.
“We picked her up, and after that it was just it,” he told Orlando news station WFTV. “She was a lover. I could tell she was so scared and timid … [I] kind of just fell in love with her.”
After her rescue from the rubble, Mia had been taken to Pet Alliance’s location in Sanford, Florida. Unable to forget the sweet cat, Maneri headed over there as soon as he could to sign adoption papers. Now Mia is at Maneri’s home, though she may ultimately live with his mother since he already has other cats and dogs, he told My News 13.
The fire that broke out in the shelter Wednesday night killed at least 13 cats, Pet Alliance said in on social media Thursday afternoon, noting that four cats were still missing.
Earlier reports stated that more cats had died, but it turned out that many of the felines feared dead ― like Mia ― had managed to survive the fire and were simply hiding. Emergency responders were able to save 45 dogs ― all the dogs in the shelter ― and 26 cats.
The fire appeared to have started near the portion of the shelter that houses the cats. The cause of the fire is as of yet unknown, though law enforcement does not suspect foul play.
At one point, the roof of the building collapsed, making it even more difficult for responders to maneuver inside the maze-like layout of the shelter.
”There are several entrances and exits for this location, and several buildings attached by little corridors,” Steve Sherrill of the Orange County Fire Rescue told the Orlando Sentinel. “There are kennels back there and concrete walls that sometimes led to a dead end, so that provided a bit of an obstacle.”
About 150 animals in Pet Alliance’s care were in foster homes, not at the shelter, when the fire broke out, Executive Director Steve Bardy said at a press conference earlier this week, according to the Miami Herald.
“If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare, he said. “To see your building on fire and know that there are animals in there that you’re charged to care for and you can’t go in. I’m grateful that the firefighters have put their lives at risk to help save as many as they could.”
The surviving animals were all transferred to the Sanford location for the time being, where the organization is also accepting donations.