BOOKS: Scarlett Saves Her Family
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1997:
Scarlett Saves Her Family
by J.C. Suares & Jane Martin
Simon & Schuster (1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020), 1997.
96 pages, 50 photos, $20 hardcover.
You probably know the story of Scarlett ––the
New York alley cat, featured in People and elsewhere,
who on March 29, 1996 made five trips into a burning
building to save her kittens. Scarlett suffered severe
burns, but was rescued in turn,. with her family, by firefighter
David Giannelli. Scarlett and four kittens were
restored to health and placed for adoption by the North
Shore Animal League. The fifth kitten succumbed to panleuopenia,
an airborne virus that probably compounded
the after-effects of smoke inhalation.
Scarlett Saves Her Family is an illustrated souvenir
of the event. As well as the story of Scarlett, it
includes a foreword by Giannelli, who was already noted
for animal rescues. It might be compared to the book that
made Smokey the Bear famous after New Mexico firefighters
in 1950 rescued a cub who resembled the cartoon
bear the U.S. Forest Service had used since 1944 to warn,
“Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.”
North Shore Animal League publicist Marge
Stein hopes Scarlett Saves Her Family will enjoy comparable
success: Smokey was the most popular animal at the
National Zoo until his death in 1976, and his grave, near
where he was rescued, remains a much-visited shrine.
Unfortunately, Giannelli et al missed the chance
to explain that animal rescue, for firefighters, is human
rescue too. Both human and animal lives could be saved
if more people understood that if a child is missing at the
scene of a blaze, odds are the child will be with the pet. If
a pet is left behind, people––especially children––may
dash back into a fire, attempting a rescue they are neither
trained nor equipped to accomplish.
Similar psychology applies to rescues of animals
from thin ice, which prevent human drownings, and from
high places, which prevent falls and the many electrocutions
that occur when aluminum ladders touch wires.
Giannelli and colleagues of Hook and Ladder
Company 175 have also saved many people, some of
whom he mentions, but while Scarlett and her kittens had
no other people, odds are good that in saving other ani