SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- There's a happy ending Monday to the story of a cat who has been living inside a San Francisco fire station where animals aren't allowed.
The cat will be getting a new home.
After someone complained, officials ordered that Edna the cat be removed from Station 49 in the Bayview District. Monday was supposed to be eviction day, but it came after a bit of a chess match.
Edna has called the station home since she was rescued as a stray kitten four years ago. The building is actually a staging and storage facility for department ambulances.
Recently, an anonymous complaint was filed about the cat living in the warehouse among boxes of medical supplies. So, despite the objections of the paramedics, the department ordered Edna out. You can imagine how the public feels about that.
"It's not hurting anybody," said SF worker Gene Stoegbauer. "Just leave the damn cat alone."
In a statement late Monday afternoon, the department said an investigation concluded, "…having the cat in the facility compromised the sterility of supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals used on patients. Public health and safety concerns counseled removal of the cat from the premises."
But no one from the department was available to answer questions such as why it took four years to come to that conclusion.
"Sometimes people do go overboard with the rules," said Bayview resident Queen Jones. "Because that's an innocent deed they did. They found the cat. They rescued it. They had it since it was a baby."
But KPIX has learned that the complaint came from inside the building. Photos purportedly show a box of sterile paramedic gloves partially clawed open. They came from someone who said the cat complaint was filed, in part, as retaliation for alleged "unfair treatment" on the job.
"The cat's [causing] no harm. It's an innocent creature," said Harry Robelo, who also lives in the Bayview. "Maybe they feel protected with the cat there. Hey, who knows?"
That was an argument someone tried to make Monday, saying the cat was needed as a "therapy animal." An Instagram post claimed the SPCA designated it as such. But the SPCA denied that, saying it doesn't actually certify companion animals.
When asked if Edna really was a therapy animal or was it just a ruse to keep the cat, 15-year old Jay Lewis said, "Yeah, it's just a scam. I mean, I assume everybody wants the cat there just as company. It's a cat, it's cool. It's like a firehouse dog."
But in its statement, the department said, while animals can be comforting, Edna still had to go. In fact, she was being adopted by a member of its ambulance staff to live with their family. That means she will still have a home, but she just can't be a firehouse dog anymore.
In its statement, the San Francisco Fire Department said it has trained counselors available to offer therapy to employees in need of stress relief.
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