Affixed to a plywood board covering the burned-up exterior of the Kennel Café pet-supply store last Sunday was a handwritten sign: “Esther and staff thank you for your support following the tragic fire that swept through the store.”
There were vases of flowers on the doorstep. Two large sheets of paper, also tacked to the plywood over the front windows, were filled with messages like, “All cats go to heaven.”
Around 3 a.m. on June 18, Esther Limongi, Kennel Café’s owner, was fast asleep in her apartment above the store when Danasa, her German Shepherd mix, leaped onto the bed. Limongi awoke to a room filled with smoke. She, Danasa, and three cats that were living in the store survived; four other cats died.
The building was completely gutted, and Limongi is now living with friends while she waits to rebuild with the fire-insurance money.
But she’s received dozens of goodwill gestures from local residents and and even competing businesses—Fetch, a nearby dog-focused pet supply store, is carrying cat items temporarily, to keep the kitty business in the neighbourhood until Limongi gets things back up and running.
When Limongi stopped by the storefront on Sunday afternoon, Paula Devlin, a regular customer, happened to be passing by. “Do you want clothing?” asked Devlin.
“I still have some,” said Limongi.
“What size are your feet?” asked Devlin.
“Don’t worry too much,” said Limongi—but after a moment, she relented and wrote down her phone number on a slip of paper.