Rescuers searched 3 times for left-behind pets in still-standing part of collapsed Florida condo
- The remaining part of Champlain Tower South is set to be demolished ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.
- The demolition has sparked concern about the pets left behind after residents evacuated.
- One Miami official said he learned of cats, parrots, and a dog that may still be in the building.
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Rescuers have combed the still-standing remains of Champlain Tower South multiple times, searching for the missing pets of survivors who fled the building, Miami-Dade officials said Saturday.
The building is set to be demolished soon, ahead of the impending Tropical Storm Elsa, but residents who evacuated the building after it collapsed have raised concerns about the pets they left behind.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters at a press conference that search and rescue teams conducted a primary, secondary, and tertiary search for animals and found none.
They also conducted a sweep with cameras, and again found none, she said.
"I very much understand that pets are part of people's families - I have always been a pet owner myself, and my heart goes out to those who fear for their animals," Cava said. "And I just want you to know that additional efforts have been made, and are being made."
Cava said she has been working with a contractor to whom she provided a list of locations in the building where animals might be. She said the contractor is "doing everything that they might to just to make an additional search."
But she added that the final search won't be conducted on-site, as it's too dangerous to enter the building and go beyond the first floor.
One Miami official, Ken Russell, told the Associated Press he'd heard of pets that may have been left behind in the building, including a dog in a crate on the ninth floor, a cat named Coco on the fourth floor, and two parrots and a cat on the 10th floor.
He said he alerted the fire chief when he first learned of a cat left behind, and ensured no resources would be taken away from the efforts to rescue any survivors trapped under the rubble.
He said one firefighter even hung from a bucket truck and began calling for Coco.
"People rely on them for their mental stability and their comfort," he said. "To know that they left their animal behind is a tremendous sense of guilt."
The Associated Press reported that on Saturday, one cat was seen wandering a lower floor, and crews intended to place a trap on the balcony to rescue it. It wasn't clear whether the cat belonged to any of the building's residents.
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