The social media campaign to reinstate Edna the cat at the San Francisco Fire Department’s Station 49 has evidently fallen flat in person.
Despite hundreds of tweets on Edna’s eviction from the ambulance deployment facility, less than 10 people cared enough to show up in person during the San Francisco Fire Commission’s Wednesday meeting for public comment. It was a small but passionate group of cat lovers.
As former EMT Michelle Estrada testified, the tortoiseshell cat arrived at the station in India Basin as a stray in 2014 and worked her way into the hearts of Fire Department staff. She deterred rodents and took comfort in a stack of papers, earning the initial name of Mrs. Hammermill. Estrada’s coworker later named her Edna.
“I felt like it was imperative to offer the story of how Edna got to the station,” Estrada told the Fire Commission. “She used to love to keep herself warm atop some of the ambulances that came the night before.”
Staff on Evans Avenue lovingly cared for Edna in between their stressful and vital jobs as first responders and even created an Instagram. Holiday-themed posts read “Merry Christmas from our dumpling to yours” and “A little turkey for our turkey” while others simply offered puns like “Meowbulance.”
Alas, someone filed an anonymous complaint and the facility was told in early February that they had days to get rid of Edna. The online firestorm was fierce enough to warrant a full-page of a press release from the Fire Department — far longer than most alerts issued about actual fires. Staffers even got her certified as a therapy cat and used the Instagram account to rally support. But the Fire Department cited that having a cat could compromise the sterility of supplies and equipment used on patients and someone from the team took her home.
“She has somewhere to go now but it just sucks to uproot a once-feral cat from her home of five years and one that she could come and go as she pleased but chose to stay with unlimited 24/7 loving from 200+ amazing EMS members,” read a goodbye Instagram post. “All this over an ‘anonymous’ complaint that was made with malicious intent.”
One public commenter, who indicated that he worked for the Fire Department questioned the logic of citing health concerns since medical supplies are securely stored. Another woman appeared to have more sympathy for the cat than “the homeless” by alluding that the latter was a much worse hygienic issue.
Ultimately, they all wanted Edna to return to Station 49 but it’s unlikely that the seven commenters counted by SF Weekly would be enough to pressure the Fire Commission to intervene. (A post on Edna’s Instagram account that asked supporters of #Ednastays to show up at the meeting on Wednesday seemed promising with almost 10,000 likes.)
“I’m a cat person but I really believe there’s a reason for her being there,” said a woman named Christine. “I would really hope that the Fire Department could do the right thing and bring Edna back. Bring Edna back to the 49.”