Woman's agony after fire sees beloved cat trapped in condemned building for 12 days
A YOUNG woman has spoken of an agonising ordeal after a fire saw her beloved cat trapped in an unsafe building for almost two weeks with no guarantee of rescue.
Josephine Gillen is the proud owner of stunning black cat Poppy who she cared for lovingly alongside four other felines at her Saracen Street flat until disaster struck on Thursday, March 16 when a terrifying blaze at a takeaway shop below forced the family to evacuate.
She said: “I could never have imagined that being in a fire would be that scary, but it was horrible.
“I heard someone shouting in the street outside and when I turned around to tell my boyfriend he said there was already smoke in the flat.”
At seven months pregnant, Josephine says her partner Drew's first instinct was to safely remove her from the burning building as soon as possible.
But, as an avid animal lover, the 21-year-old could not fight the urge to save her pets from the thickening smoke.
She said: “I was frantically trying to get my cats while my boyfriend was trying to drag me out of the house.
“I managed to grab one by myself but there were still four left in the building.
“When we were outside, I kept shouting ‘I need to get my cats’ but everyone was just looking at me and laughing.”
Fire crews were quick to arrive at the scene and a total of up to six other cats were later returned to safety.
However, despite ‘best efforts’ from everyone involved, Poppy could not be enticed to leave and found herself stuck in a building which would soon be condemned by Glasgow City Council.
The treacherous state of the structure had created an impossible situation for both the council and the North Glasgow Housing Association who were unable to authorise anyone to enter the exclusion zone to save the cat.
As a result, Josephine went on to suffer 12 days of agonising anxiety with no answers as to when, or if, she would be able to see her cherished pet again and fears that Poppy could be slowly starving with no food or water.
She said: “I was really, really angry with the way I was treated and felt like no one was listening to my concerns.
“The housing association just kept telling me that no one was allowed back in so I phoned the SSPCA but they were told the same thing.
“I actually had to go to get my baby checked at the hospital because it was such a distressing situation.”
Thankfully, there's a happy ending to this heartbreaking tale with structural engineers last week executing a plan to retrieve Poppy. They returned her to her owners on Tuesday, March 28.
Speaking of the rescue mission a North Glasgow Homes spokesperson said: “On March 24, Building Control requested NG Homes work with them on the property.
“Our structural engineers assessed the building and prioritised a plan to remove the cat, who was retrieved safely.
“Our housing team have kept in close contact with all tenants and has provided support throughout the incident.
“Building Control ensured the cat was safe and it had access to food and water.
“The tenant has confirmed that Poppy the cat is doing well.”
While Josephine and her partner are glad to have Poppy home and healthy, it will be a long time before any of her family forget the harrowing incident.
She said: “Poppy is really traumatised and hasn’t left our side.
“Every time she eats she growls at us like she’s worried we'll take it off her.
“But the vet said that she was fine to take home and that there has been no damage to her lungs.”
Following its involvement with the case, an SSPCA spokesperson said: “The council and the housing association were responsive to our requests for help and sympathetic towards the need to try and get to Poppy in really difficult circumstances.”