WASHINGTON – Nearly 20 cats owe one of their nine lives to Oasis for Animals owner Jean Favini following a fire at the organization’s facility just last Saturday.
The cat rescue organization owner defied the warnings of a 911 official and went into a smoke-filled office herself with a towel around her face to save her meowing dependents.
She made many trips into the building, returning each time with her arms full of cats.
“All I cared about was the cats, so I said there was no way I wasn’t going to get them from the office,” Favini stated. “I had to make a decision, and I’m so thankful I did. I’m just sad I didn’t go in sooner.”
She and a South Whidbey firefighter managed to bring out all 24 cats in the building. Sadly, five did not survive and passed from smoke inhalation.
Oasis for Animals is renown no-kill rescue organization that spays and neuters feral cats before putting them up for adoption.
The fire began at approximately 4:30 p.m. in the building next to her home. The blaze is believed to have been electrical in nature and that it started from a stove or microwave; neither were in use at the time. Flames were small and didn’t get a chance to burn the entire office, instead claiming the appliances, damaging countertops and part of the wall.
Favini’s smoke detector failed to activate when the cat-filled room began to fill with smoke. She only realized there was a problem when she heard their meows for help.
Once Favini and the firefighters had grabbed all the cats by the scruff of their necks, she and firefighters attempted to resuscitate them, one by one.
“I thought we were going to lose them all,” Favini stated. “My face, hands and hair were black, so I had to go to the hospital later to get tested for smoke inhalation.”
However, thanks to Favini’s quick thinking and bravery, all 24 cats were pulled out, and 19 of them had survived.
Since the fire, Favini has been providing health care for the cats with the help of Robben Jones, who is the former owner of South Whidbey Animal Clinic.
“I used to be Jean’s vet years ago,” Jones stated. “We set up an assembly line and got through treating them all eventually. I don’t do emergencies, but they were animals in need of help and that’s what I’m trained to do.”
Despite the traumatic ordeal, Favini is in good spirits. With many of the cats’ health improving, she is now finding the time to smile in the midst of the aftermath.
“It’s just great to see them bounce around in their cages again,” Favini stated. “To see them playing again and closing their mouths when they breath makes me smile. I think I needed that.”
Favini is now using the whole incident to raise awareness about the importance of regularly updating fire detection devices.
One can never know when a loved ones’ lives can be at risk due to faulty equipment.
To help pay for some the medical expenses, she is taking donations via the Oasis for Animals website.
Photo credits: Jean Favini of Oasis for Animals