Outpouring of support for SF fire station, asked to give up feral pet cat

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People from around the country are rallying behind a feral cat named Edna and her adoptive family: members of a San Francisco fire station. 

Station 49 on Evans Avenue in Bayshore is where Edna has called home for the past four years. But someone recently made an anonymous complaint to management about the feline, and workers were told they needed to find their pet a new home by Monday.

In an email sent to SFGATE and "signed" by Edna, the sender said the cat had become a part of the station's family, describing her as "the most docile, loving baby."

"We take her to the vet now, give her treats and she calls our station home now," the email said.  "As I'm sure you can imagine, our jobs are very, very stressful. A lot of us see Edna as our little stress unit."

The popular cat has quite a following on social media, with 17.7k followers on her Instagram page, @fire_cat_edna. That's where hashtag  #ednastays has been trending as many are urging management to allow the cat to remain with her family. 

People have said she plays an integral role in the fire house as an emotional support animal to workers in a high stress job.

@arecheri wrote, "It's a beautiful thing when a human and furbaby form a bond. In this case, Enda has formed multiple. She deserves to stay with these fantastic caretakers. Especially when they put their lives on the line for others! #ednastays."

@cbritvich commented, "My dad was a firefighter for 22 years. They had all kinds of stress relievers at their station. They needed them. You guys do too. Let Edna keep doing her job..."

@vamom54 said she is a resident of Virginia and a volunteer at an animal rescue shelter, where she sees a high number of cats being euthanized. "By adopting Edna, the staff at the station saved her from certain death.... she serves a greater purpose -- that of being a therapy pet for the brave men and women of station 49.... I beg you to please let Emma stay where she is; she is loved and needed."

While an overwhelming number of people have rallied in support of Edna staying, not all think it's a good idea.

@mossbeachembroidery wrote, "...I do believe that animals are a wonderful comfort, as well as a moral booster, however this is a work place and even though no one wants to admit it, it is a sanitary issue and an OSHA VIOLATION!!!"

Irene Ybarra, a retired San Francisco Fire Department paramedic, who knows Edna well, told KTVU, "It's unfortunate because people have gotten really close to Edna these last years and she's made a big difference."

KTVU reached out to fire officials for a response and an update on Edna's status but have not heard back. 

Fire station employees said they were told if they did not find the cat a new home, animal control would be called.

Officials with San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) told KTVU the agency is not in the practice of rounding up stray cats, though it would accept Edna if she is surrendered to its care.

SFACC spokeswoman Deb Campbell said unless the animal is being abused or neglected, the agency would not come in and intervene. 

"We support animals being in a home... anywhere an animal is getting care food and shelter, that would be considered a home," Campbell said. "Our intention, our goal is not to break up a happy relationship with owners and their pets."