Shirley Reierson of Duluth, Minnesota, is in awe of the heroics of a dedicated group of firefighters.
They saved her beloved 18-year-old old cat on Thursday as a fire destroyed her home and caused approximately $140,000 in damages.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, which reported the story, Duluth firefighters scooped up the elderly cat named Mazzy, who Reierson considers a family member.
“If you love animals, like we do, your pets become family members,” Reierson told the newspaper.
On Thursday night, Reierson and her husband, Jim Gruba, were asleep when a neighbor called them about a garage fire next door.
They quickly evacuated the house, the News Tribune reports, grabbing one of their cats — an 8-year-old tabby named Jack — but their 18-year-old feline Mazzy and a pet cockatiel didn’t make it out with them.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the homeowners told them about the animals still inside.
“After they came, they were so organized and so on-task. It was clear that their priority was to put out the fire. I didn’t know if they would even remember there were these two animals in there, but obviously they did,” she told the News Tribune.
An hour later the bird was rescued; a half-hour after that, Mazzy was carried outside in the arms of a firefighter — she was alive but weak from smoke inhalation.
“That someone would take so much time to make sure that our old beloved cat was OK was really something. I was so moved,” Reierson said.
Gruba told PEOPLE that he and the couple’s 35-year-old daughter were so elated that the cat — who turns 19 in February — survived the ordeal.
“We thought she was a goner,” he said on Tuesday.
Gruba said Mazzy is doing well and thanks to good insurance coverage, the family will be just fine.