ITALY – A cat, whose name is Joy, has been rescued and is alive by Italian firefighters after spending six days trapped in the rubble of a collapsed house.
In a rare piece of good news in another otherwise unrelentingly grim time, in which 292 people died and nearly 400 were injured, the cat was found weak and dehydrated but very conscious.
Joy’s owner, whose name is Daniela Tursini, had kept up a constant vigil in the town of Amatrice, which was all but destroyed by the quake, begging firefighters to help find her pet.
“I beg you, find my cat, she’s all I have left. My house has gone, I’ve lost everything,” she said to the firemen, who have worked tirelessly to excavate the rubble in the hope of finding someone alive.
Those hopes have come to absolutely nothing – no one has been pulled alive from the wreckage of the towns and villages flattened by the quake since Wednesday.
However, firefighters on Monday did at least manage to find the grey and white cat, trapped beneath a great mass of masonry, floor boards, and twisted metal.
“We were working with bulldozers to move away the rubble,” stated Andrea, the firefighter who rescued the pet, named Gioia – Joy in Italian. “I went into what was left of the house – there was one room that remained intact.”
Gently extricating the exhausted cat, he then handed Joy over to volunteer vets who have set up a tent in the town for the treatment of injured animals.
Dozens of cats and animals, and even a pair of turtles, have thankfully been rescued in the quake zone. However, none of them had survived as long as Joy.
Ms. Tursini went on to say that her house was badly damaged when the quake hit at 3.36am on Wednesday.
She grabbed the cat but she managed to jump out of her arms just as she was being rescued. The very next morning, a powerful aftershock struck the area, further damaging her house and trapping the animal.
Andrea, who is the firefighter who found Joy, is from L’Aquila, the nearby city that was badly damaged by an earthquake in 2009 which killed more than 300 people.
“I know what it’s like to be hit by a quake and what it feels like when you lose everything,” he stated.