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Fireman with the cat he adopted after saving it from a fire
Courtesy Brett Maneri
When the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando caught fire on September 15, all hope seemed lost for the animals trapped in it, especially the cats housed in the wing where the fire was most intense. But one cat in particular was luckily hardly injured – and even more lucky was that it was adopted by a firefighter who helped her save her.
Brett Maneri, one of Orange County’s local firefighters, arrived to identify and put out potential hotspots at the shelter after most of the fire was extinguished. But his job soon became a rescue mission when firefighters realized that animals were still living in it.
“All of the cats were petrified; it was like seeing a ghost,” Maneri tells Daily Paws. “When something like this happened in a place where you were going to save an animal, it was heartbreaking.”
Maneri and the rest of the crew found three cats during that shift, including a pregnant cat trapped in the room where the roof collapsed. Two of the cats were in critical condition, but a 5-year-old green-eyed tabby was in remarkable health given the trauma she had just experienced.
“Surprisingly, she was in the worst part and had a couple of bruises on her bum,” says Maneri. “So it was a miracle she was in that state at all.”
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Overall, shelter officials say 17 cats sadly died in the fire, but luckily 24 were rescued and all 26 dogs survived the fire, according to WFTV.
When Maneri saw all the defenseless, frightened cats, he knew immediately that he wanted to adopt one of the survivors. His mother had helped run the Florida Boxer Rescue, so he grew up surrounded by rescue animals. At home he already had two cats and a boxer, the latter of which had actually been adopted by the Pet Alliance.
In the end, he saved Mia, the little kitten that had survived almost unscathed.
The story goes on
“[Mia] was just so scared and shy in the back of the cage … I wanted to take her home and give her a home, “Maneri tells Daily Paws.” And I’m not going to lie, she was adorable. “
After his firefighter shift was over, he immediately signed Mia’s adoption papers before taking her home. He says she was understandably excited that day after all she had endured, but after a good night’s sleep the kitten was as good as new. She is a huge sweetheart and loves to cuddle, be it with Maneri and his girlfriend, his mother or his lovable boxer.
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Maneri has received some media attention for bringing Mia home, but he tells Daily Paws that it is important to recognize the efforts of your entire crew at Orange Country Fire Rescue.
“In my opinion, none of this would have been possible without the crew and everyone else who responded to these efforts,” says Maneri. “The result could have been very different.”
He also encourages people to support the Pet Alliance after the tragic fire as it needs help now more than ever. Help support the surviving animals and the shelter by donating here.