A cat thought to have died in a fire at an Orlando animal shelter is found alive by a firefighter, and it is love at first sight.
Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando became engulfed in flames on Wednesday evening with dozens of dogs and cats trapped inside. Orange County firefighters and police rushed into the burning building to save as many animals as possible.
The fire quickly spread, and part of the roof collapsed making it too dangerous for anyone to enter.
Several OCSO deputies, along with members of @OCAS_Orlando @OCFireRescue and @petallianceGO entered the building while it was on fire and rescued numerous dogs & cats before the fire became too overwhelming. pic.twitter.com/oBKhVkgczc
— Orange County Sheriff’s Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) September 16, 2021
Rescuers thought all of the remaining animals had perished.
But as soon as it was safe to enter the destroyed building, firefighter Brett Maneri and many others returned to the rubble to search for survivors.
“It breaks our heart driving up to the scene and knowing what it is… our whole goal was to search every corner to find at least one,” Maneri told WFTV.
And that is exactly what he did.
He spotted a tabby cat known as Mia hiding behind a burnt cat condo, and fell in love.
“We picked her up, and after that it was just it,” Maneri said. “She was a lover, I could tell she was so scared and timid… [I] kind of just fell in love with her.”
Mia was just one of several cats found alive in the debris.
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The shelter posted that all 26 dogs were saved and 45 cats survived. “We are heartbroken to report that we lost 13 cats and there are 4 still missing. Staff will be setting up traps at the location in the hopes of locating the missing 4.”
All the rescued animals were taken to the shelter’s Sanford location, where Maneri headed to adopt Mari after his shift on Thursday.
“I came straight here, and now she’s coming home with me,” he said.
Pet Alliance Executive Director Steve Bardy called the fire a shelter’s “worst nightmare” at a press conference. “To see your building in 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.”
THANK YOU!!! We are absolutely amazed at your generosity! Please pause from sending physical donations until we can sort…
The shelter is overwhelmed by the community’s support and generosity. “It has been an extremely difficult time for our front line animal care staff and all of our volunteers and staff throughout the agency. Your words of kindness and sympathy mean so much.”
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