Heroic Pennsylvania firefighter credits rescue team training in the saving of two cats

IFAW-NACA Animal Behavior and Handling course participants.We just received the following heroic story from Michael Wood, Battalion Chief, Doylestown Fire Company #1 who attended our International Fund for Animal Welfare - National Animal Control Association (NACA) Animal Behavior and Handling course last Sunday, Michael's note is below:

One o’clock Thursday morning, we responded to a house fire; the house had been converted into three apartments. I was searching the second floor apartment through heavy smoke, and during my search, I found a cat in severe distress. 

I remembered seeing a cat carrier on the porch. I made my way back to the porch, grabbed the carrier and went back upstairs. 

As I reached for the cat, he took off down the steps to the door entrance.  A second cat was located in the bedroom. I remembered the technique shown in class, so I stood the carrier on its end like you showed and got that cat in with no problem!

Learning the technique for rescuing cats with a carrier. I had seen the first cat go behind the washer and dryer when he ran downstairs; so on my way out, I stopped and actually got the first cat into the carrier, too! 

The owners were so happy to see their beloved pets.

Meanwhile, my Battalion Chief and Captain removed one dog from the window of the first floor apartment as another crew got a second dog. All animals were alive! 

Another officer, who also attended the class, was one of the first responders. He, along with his fellow officers, got the occupants out just prior to our arrival. He was transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation and later released. 

A firefighter fell through the back deck as it was burned through and suffered leg injury-this was a serious fire. I believe if we did not find those animals as quickly as we did, they would not have survived!

The class was great and using the technique with the carrier made rescuing the cats easy. I never thought of doing it that way, so it paid off! 

Thanks again from us all and keep up the good work!

IFAW travelled to Warrington, PA this past weekend to welcome Animal Lifeline as our newest Emergency Relief Network member. Animal Lifeline’s mission is to be a support organization for rescues, shelter, and municipal groups who advocate for homeless animals. 

They are very active in community outreach and disaster preparedness. Their founder, Denise Bash, has been an active responder with IFAW for the past two years. We look forward to working with Animal Lifeline’s dedicated team.

In order to continue to build local disaster response capacity, IFAW brings training to our ERN members.

The IFAW-NACA Animal Behavior and Handling course teaches responders the importance of understanding animal body language and how animals respond in disasters.

We provide techniques for safely handling animals and removing them from harm. 

The hands-on portion of the class builds responders’ confidence so when the time comes, they can perform under pressure.

There is no better course evaluation then hearing about how the skills taught are applied in a real life scenario and result in a successful rescue and reunification! 


For more information about our Animal Rescue efforts around the world, visit our team page.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters