John Hoogstra had no time to think about his animals when he awoke to a flaming living room early Sunday morning. He had time only to crawl to the back door and escape from his third-floor apartment at 627 Seventh Ave. N, in St. Petersburg.
Inside, his new friends, a 12-week-old kitten and a 14-week-old dog were left to fend for themselves. The dog died in the fire.
But the cat survived, rescued in an early-morning drama watched by dozens of neighbors drawn by the smoke and flames.
Baby, the kitten, was limp as a firefighter handed it to rescuers on the ground. As Lt. Dean Adamidies held the tiny feline, paramedic Rick LeProvost held an oxygen mask to its face. Moments later, Baby began moving around, suddenly almost too frisky to hold.
The crowd cheered.
"It was really touching," said John Balcomb, a freelance photographer who was taking pictures at the scene.
Adamidies said the animal rescue was just part of the job.
"If the chance arises, we'll do whatever we can for whatever _ person or animal," he said.