Three Cats Lost in Fire at Animal Coalition of Tampa Clinic

I should have been working on a blog post to mark the four-year anniversary of Vox Felina—something light and, more likely than not, a little bit snarky. Instead, I found myself staring in disbelief at my laptop screen late Saturday evening, as the news slowly registered: three cats were killed in an early-morning fire at the Animal Coalition of Tampa clinic.

While a dog had apparently managed to escape, a post on ACT’s Facebook page explained that the fire took the lives of “our beloved Jazz, Boy, and Mama.”

Arson is suspected.

Twenty-four hours later, I’m still unable to fully comprehend the news—to absorb the shock of it. I consider ACT president Frank Hamilton a friend and a colleague. I simply can’t imagine what he, his wife Linda, and all the ACT staff and volunteers are going through.

According to the ACT Facebook page, though, they’re already making plans for rebuilding—renewing their long-standing commitment to the companion animals of Hillsborough County and the people who care for them. (After a toddler in a Tampa suburb was bitten by a rabid cat last August, ACT held a mobile vaccination clinic in the neighborhood where the incident took place. TNR opponents, meanwhile, stayed away and used the media attention to ramp up their scaremongering.)

The loss of life would have been a tragedy under any circumstances, but the idea that the fire may have been deliberately set? What would constitute justice in such a case?

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Donations to help ACT rebuild can be made locally (check out their Facebook page for details) or through the organization’s website.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the Fire Marshal at 813.274.7000, or place an anonymous tip on the City of Tampa website. According to the Tampa Tribune, rewards of $2,500 or more are available for information leading to the identification of persons involved in arson-caused fires.


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