86 cats successfully evacuated from rescue as wildfire hits: ‘It’s definitely a miracle’

A wildfire is definitely a scary situation to deal with. Victims often have to quickly evacuate before a fire hits their home. And it can be even more of a challenge when you have pets in your house, and have to race to get them to safety.

Recently, one rescue group had to evacuate over 80 cats as a wildfire approached — and miraculously, they all survived safe and sound.

Last week, Panama City, Florida suffered from severe wildfires that spread over 1,400 acres and forced over a thousand households to evacuate.

One of the homes belonged to Jackie Mihal, the president of Salty Cats of St. Andrews Rescue Group, who cares for 86 cats (and one bunny) on her property. As the fire approached, she knew she had to evacuate all her animals, and fast.

“Smoke was just rolling in,” she told WMBB. “Fire moves so quickly, and the smoke was just engulfing the building.”

It was a daunting task, with little time and limited cages to evacuate the animals to safety. But thankfully, she had help from three good samaritans — Brian Salmon, Scott Morris, and Scott Trunzo — who helped get the animals out.

Amazingly, all the animals survived the fire after being evacuated in time.

“It’s definitely a miracle. I don’t know how I got them in their cages, and I don’t know where those guys came from but they were placed there for a reason,” Jackie said.

Though the fire forced them out of their home, supporters came to the shelter’s aid, donating supplies. The cats were placed in a temporary home until the rescue could reopen.

“All our fur babies are settled in their temporary home,” Salty Cats wrote on Facebook. “Thank you everyone who has reached out offering help and to the ones that jumped into action to help me evacuate the babies, I owe you dearly and can’t begin to express my gratitude.”

Escaping the fire wasn’t the only miracle: the situation had a surprising silver lining. After news broke the story of the cats’ escape from the wildfire, a family noticed their lost cat on the news, leading to a reunion.

“So one great thing came out of this horrible fire and I can’t be happier for him and his family!” the rescue wrote on Facebook.

The kitty pictured here was seen by his mama last night on the news and he’s going home to his family tonight! So one…

Posted by Salty cats of St. Andrews rescue on Tuesday, March 8, 2022

And according to a Facebook post by the rescue, Salty Cats has reopened its doors, and the 80-plus cats are settling back in to their familiar surroundings, with new furniture, blankets and toys donated by supporters.

“We are home!” the rescue wrote. “Thank you everyone who helped make this possible!”

We are home!!!! Thank you everyone who helped make this possible! We will be working on getting them their cat towers, I…

Posted by Salty cats of St. Andrews rescue on Monday, March 14, 2022

What a miracle. We’re so glad all these beautiful cats made it to safety in time! Thank you to all the caring people who helped evacuate them!

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