Many of the cats at the shelter had special needs, including 12 blind felines

By Eric Todisco
February 04, 2021 02:34 PM
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cats in shelter
Credit: Getty

At least 48 cats were killed in a deadly fire that broke out on Friday at a western Nebraska home that doubled as an animal shelter.

The fire occurred at Nebraska Loves Cats, located on the 1100 block of Third Street in Chappell. The shelter confirmed on Facebook that 48 cats, including seven kittens, were killed in the blaze.

Michelle Tynan, one of three co-founders of Nebraska Loves Cats, told the North Platte Telegraph that the fire started in the laundry room of the home.

Tynan, who was alone in the house, said she was awaken shortly after midnight by the smell of smoke. After discovering that the dryer in the laundry room was on fire, Tynan called 911 when she could not find a fire extinguisher.

Before escaping the home, she grabbed as many cats as she could and ran outside. She also broke several windows in the house in the hopes that more of the felines would get out.

Credit: Getty

However, the majority of the cats did not escape the home. Although Tynan wanted to rush back inside to save them, first responders and emergency crew members stopped her from doing so, she said.

"I could hear the cats crying and I was begging for somebody to please let me go back in and get the animals out," Tynan told the North Platte Telegraph. "I was just beside myself in grief, screaming."

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Two of the cats that were burned in the fire were taken to Westfield Small Animal Clinic in North Platte for treatment. Nine other felines are in temporary foster care at a Chappell residence and four have been relocated to North Platte, according to Nebraska Loves Cats' Facebook post about the fire.

Other cats that escaped the fire are still on the loose, the shelter said.

Tynan added that the animal shelter has assisted and cared for roughly 200 feral or abandoned cats over the years. A number of cats living at the shelter had special needs, including a dozen that were blind, she said

Nebraska Loves Cats is seeking donations and medical supplies through fundraising pages set up on PayPal, GoFundMe, Home Depot, Amazon, and Chewy. Full information can be found on the shelter's Facebook page.