SURFSIDE, Fla. — Before the Miami-Dade County mayor announced that first responders were forced to halt operations at the scene due to safety concerns regarding the standing structure, crews were also searching for pets.
City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell has helped organized efforts to try to retrieve, or at least feed, any animals that may be left in the standing part of the building.
"The priority is always human life and rescue of human life and caring for those who have been rescued. Of those who have been rescued, though, they have a lot of distress and guilt about the pets who were left behind," said Russell.
Of those pets is Coco, a cat on the fourth floor. Coco’s dog companion, Rigatoni, made it out with his owners. But Coco was unfortunately left behind.
Firefighters haven’t been able to set foot in the building because it’s considered unstable. Russell says so far; pets haven’t emerged.
"We’ve used cranes and bucket trucks to get food up to certain balconies that we could reach until the time we are no longer able to because of the stability of the building," he said.
Another missing pet is Mia, a cat on the 10th floor.
"I thought of going back in and getting the cat, but I was so terrified. I thought the rest of the building was going to come down," said Susana Alvarez.
But unlike Coco, Mia's Alvarez says her balcony is not open, making it impossible for crews to leave food and water.
"Please don’t let her die of hunger; that’s such a terrible death," said Alvarez.
Alvarez said two policemen have offered to take a cherry picker up to her floor to retrieve Mia, but Alvarez says she’s lost hope since this morning's announcement.
"This morning, when they said that the building is unstable at that point, it’s beginning to fade. Yesterday I heard the cherry picker doesn’t go to the 10th floor, honestly. No, I don’t think I'm going to retrieve Mia," said Alvarez.
To further assist in feeding pets, Russell said they’re looking into the possibility of using drones.
"The drone has a payload of about one pound to one and a half pounds. It has clearance to get into the balcony and set a bowl of water or a bowl of food onto the balcony. That’s the extent of it this point if we get that clearance," said
To report a missing pet at the Surfside building collapse, call the Friends of Miami Animals hotline at 833-366-2642
Melissa Marrero at WSFL first reported this story.