Photo: Courtesy @fire_cat_edna / Instagram
Image 1 13
A former employee at a San Francisco fire station is speaking out after the station was forced to say goodbye to their beloved pet cat Edna on Monday after a complaint was filed about the cat’s presence at the station.
Despite launching a social media campaign in the hopes of keeping Edna, employees at Station 49 on Evans Avenue in Bayshore said goodbye to Edna in a series of Instagram posts.
“Leaving Sta49,” an Instagram post from the account “fire_cat_edna” wrote. “She does have somewhere to go now but it just sucks to uproot a once feral cat from her home of 5yrs and one that she could come and go as she pleased but chose to stay with unlimited 24/7 loving from 200+ amazing EMS members.”
In a statement, the San Francisco Fire Department said that “public health and safety concerns counseled removal of the cat from the premises.”
“To clarify what has been reported in the media, the workplace in question is not a Fire Station,” the statement reads. “This facility is the Department’s Ambulance Deployment Facility. Within this facility is Department Logistics, where medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals used by ambulance staff to provide crucial lifesaving emergency health care are housed.”
However, Irene Ybarra, the paramedic in charge of EMS logistics at Station 49 until June 2017, told SFGATE that she did not find the SFFD statement to be accurate.
“When I was at Station 49 I developed the medical supply in such a way that Edna was not able to get into the clean room,” Ybarra said. “The items are usually boxed up, and it’s not something [Edna] is usually in the habit of getting on top of. She had her own specific spot, a box with blanket in it. Edna has never been a issue.”
In an email to SFGATE on Saturday, employees said that after the complaint was filed, they were told they had until Monday to “get rid of” the cat before animal control was called.
In response, employees launched a social media campaign dubbed #EdnaStays in the hopes that Edna would be able to remain at Station 49. Despite an outpour of public support, Edna left Station 49 on Monday as planned.
“All this over an ‘anonymous’ complaint that was made with malicious intent,” the fire_cat_edna Instagram page wrote.
Edna was taken in by the staff at Station 49 four years ago by Ybarra and another staffer after Edna repeatedly visited the station as a feral cat.
“My partner and I were the ones who started feeding her because she was coming around so often,” Ybarra said.
In their statement, San Francisco Fire Department wrote, “We are happy to report that a member of the Ambulance Deployment Facility has volunteered to adopt the cat as a pet at home, where she will be well cared for.”
Ybarra said that Edna does not have a permanent home yet.
“Nobody adopted Edna, the person who took her home today has two dogs and two cats at home already so this is not the ideal situation,” she said. “She is still working to try to figure out [where Edna will go].”
Ybarra, who now lives in Washington state, said the original plan was for her to adopt Edna after retiring in 2017.
“I was going to bring her to Pacific Northwest when I retired, ” she said. “Ideally I would still like to be the one who adopts her, but that’s going to be a couple of more months.”
Instagram users responded to fire_cat_edna’s Monday posts announcing Edna’s departure with outrage.
“Whoever reported this I hope karma hits them slooowwwwly over time,” one comment read.
“Another reason why I like animals better than humans,” read another.
On Twitter, several tweets with the hashtag #EdnaStays racked up hundreds of retweets over the weekend.
“It’s a Shakespearean tragedy,” one Twitter user wrote. “Firemen find cat. Firemen keep cat. Firemen love cat. Cat loves Firemen. Landlord says cat has to go. Firemen say noooooooo.”
The SFFD said it remains a “staunch supporter and advocate for providing emotional support to its members.”
As a result, the department is organizing a “pet adoption day specifically for First Responders” with San Francisco Animal Care and Control, the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and Muttville, a non-profit rescue service.
“The department touts its stress unit, but it’s half of what they say it is at best,” Ybarra said. “People have called the stress unit, only for them to say ‘we’re busy, can’t get out there.’ So what are we going to do then?”
Ybarra talked to several former colleagues, and while many of them are heartbroken, she said this ordeal has brought them much closer to one another.
“It’s a huge morale buster,” she said. “And the only upswing to it is it’s brought so many people closer together to actually voice that we’re going to miss her, we rely on her.”
SFGATE staff writer Dianne de Guzman contributed to this article.
Start receiving breaking news emails on wildfires, civil emergencies, riots, national breaking news, Amber Alerts, weather emergencies, and other critical events with the SFGATE breaking news email. Click here to make sure you get the news.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Edna-cat-fire-station-49-San-Francisco-ednastays-13608683.php.