Jackie Mihal is in the business of saving animals, but recently, she took the concept of “rescue” to a whole new level!
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Jackie is the president of Salty Cats of St. Andrews Rescue in Panama City, Florida. When the Adkins Avenue fire headed towards the shelter, which is also her personal home, Jackie was forced to evacuate as quickly as she could. But the shelter was full, and Jackie is just one person.
Eighty-six cats and one rabbit were housed at the shelter when Jackie started loading them into crates as fast as possible. Several of the animals were feral, and others were sick, making the process especially challenging. Not only that, but she didn’t even have enough crates for all of them!
As luck would have it, three strangers happened to be passing by her home when they saw Jackie frantically hauling crates to her van. Brian Salmon, Scott Morris, and Scott Trunzo quickly started to help her, speeding up the process significantly. It was just the help she needed, arriving exactly when she needed it most!
Jackie was so grateful to the men for pitching in! She has been through hurricane evacuations before, but the thought of a wildfire had her quaking in her boots.
“Fire moves so quickly, and the smoke was just engulfing the building… I don’t sleep anymore, it just keeps flashing back,” she said.
Sadly, despite the fact that their lives were saved, the cats were traumatized by the commotion. Some even pulled out their own fur from the stress they were feeling, and others simply stopped eating.
Once they were all removed from the shelter, Jackie’s friends took them in. Looking back at the ordeal, she can’t believe she was able to move so many animals in just minutes.
“It’s definitely a miracle,” she said. “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.”
When their story hit the local news, people sent donations of new cat furniture, beds, food, and other necessities. She was finally able to move everyone back into the house after the threat of fire had passed, and she couldn’t be happier to have survived against all odds.
Not all heroes wear capes! Jackie did such an amazing job under terrifying circumstances. These cats have essentially been rescued twice!
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