Burning Questions in West Philly Apartment Complex Fire

Searching for answers in the rubble of the disaster at Windermere Court.

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 9 | Posted Feb. 23, 2011

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Marano says the PSPCA received some phone calls from activists and residents concerned about the cats left in the building after the fire and that they responded to those calls.

But when they showed up, the Ginsbergs would not let them onto the property.

Because the animal control department of PSPCA was refused access to trap the animals left behind in the fire, the situation legally became animal cruelty—and no one will ever know how many pet cats were lost to the streets that could have been saved.

“This never should have come over to my department at all,” says Bengal. “Animal control should have been allowed to handle this … but the person who has that building under their control [didn’t] allow anyone to remove the pets or allow anyone to do that, so then it would fall back on us. That’s what happened.”

“The owner wasn’t … letting people set traps for the animals,” says Bengal. “He wanted nothing to do with it.”

Alexander also says she will not rest until the city has agreed on a concrete plan to make sure that pets are never abandoned again in the face of a similar disaster. To that end, City Kitties has launched a dedicated website called windermerefirepets.org.

Alexander says the function of the campaign is to “draw attention to holes in the protocol.”

“Our intent is to get the city to activate PHL-CART during emergencies—or take some action,” she says. “Do something.”

With it unclear that the PSPCA will renew their animal control contract this year, now is the best time to hash out a protocol that can work with or without the PSPCA.

Meanwhile, thieves got richer and the streets—with the addition of a few more firearms—just a little more dangerous. As for the actual cause of the actual fire, on Feb. 14 it was officially determined “undetermined," according to Fire Department Chief Daniel Williams.

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Comments 1 - 9 of 9
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1. phillyskyline said... on Feb 23, 2011 at 01:51PM

“"“It would take a lot to further overwhelm PSCPA and Animal Care and Control Team and since they’re 24/7 and have the resources available to respond to 99 percent of the emergency responses we have in Philadelphia, they are the first line in emergency animal care,” says Phillips."

Is Ms. Phillips joking? ACCT is underfunded, overwhelmed, and is absolutely not available 24/7. I don't know where she got her information, but it's 100% wrong.

It's shocking that these two agencies (OEM and PSPCA/ACCT) are too busy pointing fingers to sit down and come up with an effective, meaningful emergency protocol for animals. Does Ms. Phillips realize that Windermere tenants' pets suffered because of her inaction? If so, she certainly doesn't seem to care.

Ms. Phillips, consider yourself on notice. Philadelphians' (exorbitant) taxes pay your salary, and we intend to force you to do your job.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 23, 2011 at 04:19PM

“What Bull. If Nutter had wanted to help those animals he could have. And so could George Bengal and the PSPCA. Cannot believe they missed a chance to rush in, grab some press then kill all the animals they "rescued." That's what they usually do.
ANd oh yeah....where has the press been???”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 23, 2011 at 06:24PM

“this is disgusting and a disgrace”

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4. Anonymous said... on Feb 23, 2011 at 06:33PM

“the spca cant even respond to half the routine calls and cruelty complaints in the city now thats a bunch of bull, they cant handle anymore work. look at the great job they did here .”

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5. AnimalWelfare said... on Feb 23, 2011 at 07:39PM

“If you are not getting the justice, then over step the mayor, and the others, by appealing to the state. If you truly want something done, call your state representatives, and speak about animal welfare - animals have hearts, emotions, bond with their owners, they are scared and feel abandoned. Work at the hearts of the politicians, and do not make it just a few of you, gather as much public support as you can. Call the Cat Rescues and the animal adoption agencies (NOT SPCA or any humane facilities). I bear to think of what the animal are feeling - abandoned, scared and unloved.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 10:21AM

“Nutter is a disgrace. I politely, yes very politely, called his office to voice my opinion about the Windemere cats and I got the run around. Not only that, but his office was outrageously rude. I voted for him the first time, but I certainly won't be voting for him again! No way, no how!”

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7. Anonymous said... on Mar 14, 2011 at 09:10PM

“Nutter is absolutely awful! First, my animals are like my children. I would accept jail time by unlawfully entering that building to rescue an animal. I'd later go to every news channel and explain my story. Nutter should have done everything in his power to help those animals in need. He's going to lose a lot of votes next race. I hope Philadelphians are smart and elect someone new.”

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8. Kathleen W. said... on Mar 15, 2011 at 08:00PM

“The city of Philadelphia did a horrible job in this case. These animals needed help & nothing was done. My cats are my children, & I would have done ANYTHING to get them out of that apartment. I feel so sorry for all the suffering that happened due to the lack of caring from the city.”

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9. Anonymous said... on Jun 3, 2011 at 09:05AM

“The situation with PCART Phila County Animal Rescue Team is a disgrace. Every other CART in the State has a fully equipped trailer. However, in Philly the trailer is assigned to the overworked and overstreatched PSPCA. The willing and highly trained volunteers of PCART have nothing in the way of equipment. It's no wonder that PCART loses it volunteers faster than they can train new volunteers. In the end, the animals and the people who love them are given the shaft by the City of Philadelphia.

I am blessed to live in Bucks County where we have a well staffed, well equipped and well managed CART. Philly is a disgrace!”


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