Cat Found Alive Under Burned Rubble of Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter

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Freckles the cat cheered shelter staff and community members mourning the tragedy wrought by a recent fire when she was found very much alive today in the wreckage of the burned shelter building.

As has been widely reported and shared, a devastating fire destroyed the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter in Rockholds, Kentucky on the night of Friday, November 29, 2013, killing well over 20 cats and at least one dog. Most of the shelter’s dogs were helped to escape, but most of its cats could not be saved, though firefighters braved the burning, crumbling building in their efforts to save the animals.

Shelter staff and volunteers, community members, and animal lovers from all over were saddened by the loss of life and the blow to the shelter’s lifesaving work for the animals. Donations have since poured in from near and far to help the nonprofit continue its work after the loss of its building and supplies.

Today brought a positive and unexpected development when two animals were found alive. Freckles the cat, who was presumed dead, was found by investigators, roaming around inside the burned building. A dog named Ziggy was discovered to be hiding in the woods, frightened and hungry, and was lured to safety. Both animals are in the care of the Lexington Humane Society.

The Lexington Humane Society shared Freckles’ photo and and the good news at Facebook and their website today, saying:

“BREAKING NEWS: After almost a week, a cat was found fighting for her life amongst the charred remains of the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter. Freckles the cat was quickly transported to the Lexington Humane Society to allow LHS’ staff veterinarian, Dr. Liz Ubelhor, the opportunity to assess her condition and start providing the intensive care she desperately needed.

“Freckles is in serious but stable condition. She has many serious burns, is severely dehydrated, and is in respiratory distress. She will be under the care of Dr. Ubelhor and our LHS medical team for an extensive amount of time.

“We are committed to providing her an exceptional level of care to help heal her wounds. We will fight as hard for her as she fought to survive a raging fire and five days buried in the aftermath.

“While Freckles will not be available for adoption for several months, we have so many great dogs and cats looking for homes. All they want for Christmas is you.”

In response to someone offering at Facebook to adopt Freckles, LHS said, “Please consider adopting one of the many cats currently in need of a home at LHS. Many have already waited hundreds of days for someone to come adopt them, and they desperately want a home in time for the holidays!”

Emmy Traub fostered Freckles and her babies before sending them to the shelter when the kittens were ready for adoption. She has been terribly upset by the prospect of her former fosters losing their lives and has sought out news on their outcomes.

Emmy wrote today after learning that Freckles was found and taken to LHS, “This was my fostered cat! She was abandoned by her owner. She gave birth to 5 kittens. At 11 weeks they were all taken to the shelter to be adopted. When I found out about the fire, I have been searching for news on her and the kittens. They were all thought to be lost, but I got the news that she was found! Thank the Lord! I know she will get the best treatment here. Prayers that she makes it.”

“The family that abandoned her called her eclipse, but we thought Freckles was better. We have had her since June. The family was homeless and the little boy did not want her or her sisters to find a new home, so we kept them while the family looked for a new home. After the family abandoned her, we tried our best to find them a new home. Freckles had 3 sisters and they all had kittens. We already have 8 cats of our own, so we called the shelter and were told that there was a place for 3 of them. Not wanting to separate Freckles from her kittens, we were told to take all of them there. All the rest of the cats and kittens we had were all adopted, so we knew they would find homes. We had no idea that the tragic fire would end their lives. We would have kept Freckles, but we were told that she would be adopted quickly. I would take her back in a heartbeat! If you only knew what I’ve been going through this week. Trying to find out if she and her kittens were alive. Then, just today I was told that they all died. Then I get the news that she’s alive…I was ready to go pick her up at that moment. That’s when I found out that she was sent to Lexington. I love her as if she were one of my own.”

Freckles will eventually be made available for adoption, but the humane society is concentrating on her recovery now.



For news and information on the fire, updates, and information and links for donations of money and supplies, readers can visit the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Facebook page and their website.

Local resident Renee Byrd made this touching video about the shelter and its important work for the animals, the fire and its tragic losses, some happy tails, and how the local community can help.

Knox-Whitley Shelter by Renee Byrd





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