SURFSIDE, Fla. – As plans are being finalized to demolish what’s left of the Champlain Towers South condo building, concern has been growing among those who believe pets may still be trapped inside.
“Every effort has been made and is being made to save pets in the area,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “We’ve been actively searching for days for any pets that remain in the building. We know these are family members and beloved.”
During a news conference held at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Doral Sunday morning, Levine Cava said crews in Surfside are doing everything they can to try and find any animals still in the part of the building that’s standing.
“We are putting together a detailed description of all of the efforts that have been made to rescue pets from this building, which have been very substantial and have continued,” she said.
Officials have been adamant for days that potential pets still inside were part of their priority.
“I know for a fact those teams have been up and down inside that building and they have told me straight up that had they seen a pet, had they seen a cage, they would’ve grabbed it,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. “I think folks can be comfortable that we’re not leaving anybody behind which has been the mantra, including our beloved pets.”
Search teams have even used drones with thermal imaging cameras and high lift cranes to place live animal traps on unstable areas and balconies, but it was all met with negative results.
“They used every possible technology, from the most rudimentary to the most sophisticated, to try to make sure that there were no pets that were able to be rescued in the building,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Despite those reassurances, some residents continue to share photos of their missing pets online, like cats Coco and Mia, still believed to be missing.
There’s also a dog that as of Friday had yet to be claimed.
Yolanda Berkowitz heads the Friends of Miami Animal Foundation, which has been working with animal services to try and reunite any missing pets with their owners.
“It’s frustrating for us, because we don’t have anybody on site because of the precariousness of the situation,” Berkowitz said.