The Gonzalez family and several of their pets were in their ninth floor apartment in Champlain Towers South the night of June 24 when the building suddenly collapsed in the middle of the night. At least two members of the family were seriously injured in the collapse one is still missing.
Several of their pets also went missing. But on Thursday, exactly two weeks after the 12-story building fell, they were reunited with one of their pets, a small black cat named Binx.
“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a grieving family today and could provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
Two members of the Gonzalez family, 16-year-old and her mother, Angela, were rescued after falling to the fifth floor during the collapse. Deven’s older sister, Tayler, was not in the building when it came down. The girls’ father, Edgar, did not make it out of the building, according to the family. Tayler has quickly become the primary caretaker for their mother and sister, who are still recovering from their injuries.
The Kitty Campus, a local animal shelter, had posted flyers on their website seeking information about the family’s missing pets. Along with Binx, the family had two dogs, Honesty and Daisy, and another cat named Hippo.
Levine Cava told reporters on Friday that a volunteer found Binx in the vicinity of the rubble while feeding stray cats and thought she recognized it. The volunteer then brought Binx to an animal shelter, where the cat was identified.
The Kitty Campus wrote on Facebook that the cat was brought to their shelter late Thursday night. The following morning, the shelter wrote, one of Binx’s owners came to identify him and take him home.
Footage from the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue shows Tayler saying she was feeling “a little bit of relief and shocked” upon reuniting with Binx. She called her mom and sister to confirm Binx’s identity, and said that he was responding to his name.
“We already had a feeling that if one of our animals were to make it, it would be him,” she said. “I’m happy. It’s been a very long journey in the past two weeks.”
Gina Vlasek, co-founder of The Kitty Campus, wrote on Facebook that this should serve as a reminder to “never, ever, ever give up hope.”
“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” Vlasek wrote. “Today was one of the most amazing days.”
The Kitty Campus also posted about the family’s reunion on Facebook on Saturday, saying that the cat had been “returned to the family who had already lost so much.”