I'm sure there are people who, after reading this heartbreaking account, will be hesitant to call for help before trying to rescue their pets themselves. If the priority is to save human life, then pets' lives must also be made top priority.
Anna Schwadron, Vestal, NY, United States
7 months ago
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Anthony Coluzzi has devoted much of his life to rescuing animals that were in need of love and homes. On August 5, 2020, Anthony Coluzzi’s life was forever changed by loss. He had the devastating experience of having a house fire at his home in Port Jefferson, New York. He called 911 thinking that the emergency service workers would do all they could to help rescue his beloved animals that were still trapped inside the blazing fire. Before the Port Jefferson Fire Department arrived, Anthony was feverishly trying to rescue the crying pets from upstairs. As soon as the department arrived Anthony immediately implored the fire chief for help in getting the pets to safety. However, Anthony was informed by the fire chief that protocol was protecting human life first, fighting the fire second, and lastly rescuing any pets. Thus, leaving the helpless pets ( his “babies” ) which are most important to him in the blaze. Anthony was not interested at all in any of his material items within the house. His only concern was the lives of his beloved pets. He explained with great passion, that with the intense smoke the pets would be easily overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and they needed to be rescued immediately. At this point, the rescue could have been very easily performed because all the pets were confined to three rooms in his home all of which were not affected by the fire. Instead, his desperate pleas for help fell on deaf ears and were ignored. There was plenty of manpower that the fire and this rescue could have been easily accomplished, without putting anyone in danger. However, the fire chief failed to give the instructions to rescue the desperate pets at the outset of the fire in a timely manner. Instead, so many fire fighters stood there watching the home burn while the poor pets were inside gasping for air. This was a six-alarm fire with over 70 firefighters present. At least 40 of the firefighters were camped out on the front lawn and on the street just standing around and watching during this whole ordeal while a handful actually fought the fire. Anthony could not sit by and watch his house burn, knowing that his pets were easily accessible and were going to needlessly die. Anthony made the decision to rescue his pets on his own. In less than five minutes, he ran around the back of his home and rescued four cats very easily, without any risk to his personal well-being. Anthony, an untrained civilian, rescued these pets. On his attempted third trip back into the house in an area that had no active fire or smoke, Anthony was confronted by four Suffolk County police officers who told him, point blank that if he was injured their jobs would be in danger. He relayed to them he needed to rescue his terrified and helpless babies and he was going back into the house in an area with no fire or smoke at that point to save them. This is when things went from horrible to worse. The same Police officers that were supposed to be there in his time of need to assist, instead, tackled him down, injured him, handcuffed him and dragged him to the front of his home where he had to watch his home burn, knowing full well, that the pets were crying for help, trapped with no one coming to rescue them. Hours after the fire started a few firefighters, who Anthony will be eternally grateful to rescued some of his pets. However, due to the length of time they needlessly spent trapped in my burning home they now suffer from smoke inhalation/ breathing related problems and also eye problems. Anthony lost two pets in the fire, beautiful cats named, Lauren and Lydia. Both sweet girls were in the upstairs cattery which has floor to ceiling windows, most windows were open at the time of the fire and which would have been easily accessible from the back of the home with merely a ladder. Anthony heard these two beautiful souls crying to be rescued and could not help them. As a result of this traumatic experience Anthony researched the issue of pet fire rescue. He found out that in New York City, proper protocol is saving human life first then isolating / fighting the fire AND rescuing pets SIMULTANEOUSLY rather than leaving animals to wait and perish in the fire. This is not the protocol in many departments in Suffolk County and this is why his pets perished. If this policy had been in place the pets would have survived. He has personally spoken with many firefighters who would be more than willing to perform this endeavor if policies changed and training was provided. Anthony will forever keep his beautiful cats Lauren and Lydia in his heart. In the pet’s memory Anthony Coluzzi wants to propose that the Suffolk county legislature/local fire departments enact procedures and/or protocols wherein every fire has 2 firefighters that will be assigned to rescue pets and that are trained in animal CPR.He believes no pet owner should have to endure the horrific experience that he did that dreadful evening. Please sign your name below so that no other beloved pet in Suffolk County will die needlessly. Please help Anthony get the word out and and share this petition on your social media platforms. Thank you