“God would have known what would have happened to those cats.”
group of cats resting together
Credit: Dave / Adobe Stock

It takes a true hero to run into a burning building to save dozens of animals, especially some of the most vulnerable pets. But that's exactly what Laredo (Texas) Animal Control Officer Jesus Aranda did last month, saving 45 trapped cats from a smoke-filled facility.

Aranda, who—according to the Laredo Morning Times—had worked for the city for 11 years in various capacities, became an animal control officer about five months ago. So he was still fresh to the job when he arrived at one of the city's shelters around 10 p.m. on Jan. 8 and discovered the facility on fire.

Without hesitation, Aranda leapt into action.

"I proceeded to open the door and saw a bunch of cats there, so I started releasing the cats before they got burned," he told the Laredo Morning Times.

By the time fire crews arrived and were able to subdue the blaze, Aranda had pulled the 45 cats from inside the building, braving the excessive heat and smoke to free them from their stainless-steel cages. Afterward, doctors treated Aranda for smoke inhalation before releasing him several hours later.

Thanks to Aranda's heroics, the fire was extinguished with no loss of human or animal life. As a show of thanks for his bravery and dedication, the city of Laredo presented Aranda with a certificate of recognition during a Jan. 18 City Council meeting.

For his part, while Aranda acknowledges that running into a burning building may be an extraordinary act, he says he couldn't have just stood by and let the scene play out.

"I love my job," he told the newspaper. "I think that if I was another person, I probably wouldn't have gone in to save these animals. I could've easily waited outside until [the fire department] came, and God would have known what could have happened to those cats."