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Search continues for cat in charred apartment rubble

by JONATHAN BETZ / WFAA

khou.com

Posted on January 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 3:21 AM

SHERMAN — Animal rescue groups are rallying to the cause of a Sherman grandmother who is convinced that her cat is trapped alive in the charred ruins of her apartment.

"I'm positive she's alive," said the cat's owner, 63-year-old Linda Monson. "I don't want her in there just suffering and slowly dying."

Searching for the cat, named Sassy, is proving difficult. Animal rescue groups complain that the owner of the complex will not let them move the debris or spend much time inside the charred ruins.

“It is frustrating,” said Jenifer Miller, who works with a Richardson-based rescue group trying to find the cat. “It makes me angry, makes me hurt, and the ability to not do anything about it is what’s the worst.”

A week ago, a second a floor unit of a building at the Post Oak Crossing apartments caught fire early in the morning. Monson escaped with her 84-year-old mother, but was unable to grab their shy rescue cat.

At first, Monson assumed the 10-year-old feline had died until she said she heard it meowing from the rubble a day later.

“I just froze,” she remembered after hearing the soft whimper. “I was so excited, because I knew I wasn’t making it up. I heard it!”

In the days since, she and others swear they’ve heard Sassy crying from the ruins.

Ruthie Cox who said she heard it along with her friend Susan Hamilton on Sunday. “We both looked at each other at the same time and said, ‘Did you hear that?’” adding,  “I have no doubt that was a cat meow coming out of this rubble.”

Although the sound was brief, both women are convinced it was from a cat.

“It was pretty loud,” Hamilton insisted. “I have no doubt that’s who it was — that it was Sassy.”

Bolstered by Sassy “soundings,” Monson’s family has spent close to $2,000 hiring pet detectives and search dogs hoping to get confirmation that Sassy is indeed alive somewhere among the debris.

“I want her out,” Monson said.

But there are plenty of skeptics. Sherman Fire Chief Jeff Jones doubts whether anyone is actually hearing Sassy. The fire was intense, causing the second floor to collapse onto Monson’s apartment. Only half of one wall remains.

Besides, the sound could be the wind, or perhaps a stray cat hiding nearby.

“We don’t have any indication there’s a live animal,” Chief Jones insisted to News 8. He said his crews have returned to the complex to investigate, but that he would need the property owner’s permission to start digging for a cat.

“I don’t have the resources to clear that rubble,” he said, “nor the authority to clear that rubble.”

Property management says its insurance company has insisted that the debris be left intact until its crews can perform their own investigation into the cause of the fire. A locked chain-link fence surrounded the building on Monday.

“It’s out of my hands,” said Adam Meeks, the property’s general manager. “I have not heard a scratch — not a meow, nothing.”

He and a maintenance worker, Andrew Brunz, walked around the debris Monday evening listening for the cat, but heard only the wind.

“We’re not heartless to the situation,” Brunz said. “One shape or form, I want to find that cat.”

Management has admitted rescue groups inside the fence briefly to search. Volunteers said they weren’t allowed to lift any of the debris and had only two hours to work.

“This is ridiculous,” Miller complained. “The longer the time passes, the worst the fate is for Sassy."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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