A massive fire broke out at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando's Conroy Road location last Wednesday at around 10:30 p.m., when the shelter was full due to the recent rescue of several animals from Hurricane Ida.
Bodycam footage released by the Orange County Sheriff's Office showed people carrying dogs and cats out of the burning building. While firefighters, police and shelter staff were able to rescue all dogs on the premises, the animal shelter reported the next morning that 23 cats had perished.
The shelter shared the sad news on their Facebook page, noting that all the surviving animals were taken to the shelter's Sanford location. "We are heartbroken to share that Pet Alliance's Orlando location was damaged by a devastating fire last night," they said. "We are very sad to report that we lost 23 cats to the fire, but firefighters and staff were able to save ALL of the dogs."
Officials believe that the fire started near the front of the building, closer to the area where the cats are kept.
Firefighters and staff continued to rescue cats from the rubble of the building over the following days, though, and the death toll was eventually reduced to 13 cats, with four still missing. PAGO staff hope to catch the survivors soon and have set up food and drop traps around the area.
Support from the community has poured in. Several restaurants, including Eola General and Dharma Southern Kitchen, offered specials with proceeds going to the shelter. Nearby Japanese restaurant Susuru even created a cocktail to benefit the shelter and honor the cats called the Mao Mao, served with a lucky cat toy.
After directing donations of wet cat food, toys and towels to their Sanford location, by Sunday night PAGO posted on their Instagram feed: "THANK YOU!! We are amazed at your generosity! We are absolutely bursting. PLEASE PAUSE FROM SENDING PHYSICAL DONATIONS. We need to sort through what we have and see how we can help our other rescue partners with this absolute outpouring of generosity. Thank you so very much!"
Monetary donations are still being accepted at petallianceorlando.org. The Orlando facility is closed for the foreseeable future and will need considerable funds to rebuild.