SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - It was an emotional reunion for a member of a family forever impacted by the Surfside condo collapse, a week after their lost cat was found near the site.
Cameras captured the moment Tayler Gonzalez got to hug Binx at a shelter that took him in. It’s the first time the animal had come into personal contact with his owners since the June 24 tragedy.
Speaking with 7News on Saturday, animal rescue volunteer Miranda Peralez said she first spotted the chatty cat roaming the rubble of Champlain Towers South seven days ago.
“He was too nice to be a stray cat,” she said.
Four days ago, Peralez said, she had an epiphany.
“It hit me that he could be a survivor cat and, yeah, so I looked through articles online and through Twitter hashtags trying to find a picture to see if it was actually him,” she said.
It was Binx, the cat from the ninth floor of the partially collapsed condo. Pictures of the feline were posted to Twitter and appeared in posters around the site.
Peralez said the furry survivor was brought to their command post for feeding, but making him stay there proved to be difficult.
“We just tried to keep him close by, but he kept running back to the site,” she said. “He didn’t want to leave.”
Days after refusing to leave the rubble where his home was, Binx was reunited with Tayler.
“I think it is him, yeah,” said Tayler as she cradled the cat.
Tayler’s loved ones were inside the building when part of it crumbled to the ground. Tayler was not inside the structure at the time.
“Honestly, I’m kind of shocked, but we already had a feeling that, if one of our animals were to make it, it would be him, so we’re not surprised, either,” said Tayler. “I’m happy. It’s just been a very long journey in the past two weeks.”
Angela Gonzalez and her 16-year-old daughter Deven survived a fall to the fifth floor. Both remain at Jackson Memorial Hospital and had a FaceTime reunion with Binx after he was found.
“That really does look like him. I love you so much!” a Gonzalez family member said to Tayler.
Peralez not just has a cat. She has a black cat, and she’s thrilled to be a part of this happy and lucky moment that comes as a welcome break from so much heartache.
“It’s really emotional, just knowing — for the past two days I’ve been crying — just knowing that he was safe. There’s not any words that can describe it,” she said.
As for Binx, he’s getting something he might not be too crazy about now.
“You need a bath. That’s what he needs,” said Tayler.
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