Woman Goes to Court in Bid to Stop Surfside Demolition to Save Cat

A judge in Florida has denied a woman's request to search the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South for a missing pet on Sunday night just one hour before the condo was fully demolished, according to a report.

The remaining section of the building in Surfside, which collapsed on June 24, was demolished in a controlled explosion at around 10:30 p.m. on July 4.

At least 24 people were confirmed dead after the Champlain Towers South collapsed, with 121 people remaining unaccounted for. Officials have confirmed that search and rescue operations will continue now that the rest of the building has been destroyed.

According to the Miami Herald, Stacey Karron, a paralegal from Broward County who works on a volunteer basis rescuing animals, was seeking to get permission to gain entry into the partially destroyed complex in order to find a cat that belonged to a resident of Champlain Towers South.

The emergency motion, filed at 9:30 p.m., stated that Karron knew there was an animal still trapped in the wreckage who was a rescue and emotional support pet for its owner.

Attorney Paula Phillips, who petitioned the court presided by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, argued that her client was aware of the risks.

"They understand the building can come down at any time," Phillips said.

Although not named in the motion or hearing, the pet is believed to have been a cat named Coco, who lived in a fourth-floor apartment with an 89-year-old woman and her daughter.

Firefighters had previously used a cherry-picker truck and left food and water on the balcony of Champlain Towers on June 28 in order to try and rescue Coco, to no avail.

Court documents shared by Miami Herald reporter David Ovall show that Karron requested that the court grant her an emergency order allowing her to enter onto certain property "for the sole purpose of retrieving their pets that have been trapped in the building" while promising to release any person from liability if she injured herself attempting to save the cat.

She also agreed not to remove any items from the building and her search would entirely focus on animals.

"My goal was just to go down there and try and rescue any pets if I was allowed," Karron told the Miami Herald. "I have experience with animal rescue and I volunteered to go in."

Karron said she has not been able to speak to the building's residents, who may have left their pets behind.

"Nobody came forward. I guess they didn't want to go back in the building. It was too traumatizing," she said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed that at least three sweeps for pets had been conducted around Champlain Towers South ahead of it being demolished, but no animals have been found.

While announcing the rejection of the motion, Judge Hanzman said: "Despite these Herculean efforts and the tireless, daunting work that has been done, there is going to be loss of life here...loss of human life and animal life."

rescue cat Champlain Towers South
Smoke rises from the site where the rest of the Champlain Towers South was demolished in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach, late on July 4, 2021. A judge has denied a woman's request to search for missing animals inside the condo building before it was demolished. GIORGIO VIERA/AFP/Getty Images