Knoxville veteran, cat who survived Gatlinburg fires form special bond

(Courtesy: WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knoxville Army veteran and cat that survived the Gatlinburg wildfires have formed a special friendship.

Ellie was one of the many rescued animals following the fire. One of the veterinarians from Bluegrass Animal Hospital in Knoxville decided to make her a part of the family after she suffered burns to her skin, ears and eyes. Most days you can find Ellie snuggled up on her favorite blanket in the office.

Gary Haun pays her a visit once a week.. The retired Army Veteran said they formed an instant bond.

He said it’s as simple as this: they’ve both been through tough situations – his time in the military and her time recovering from burns from the fire.

“She’s happy, always happy to see me. It makes me feel good to come and see her,” said Haun.

PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee

Because of her injuries, he spends about an hour with Ellie, grooming her to bring comfort. He even made her a little grooming kit with her name on the box.

“She seems to really appreciate the time he spends. You can tell she’s loving it, it seems really special to her too,” said Dr. Brandi Barry with Bluegrass Animal Hospital.

Haun who has his own cats at home says there is just something special about Ellie and he’s so thankful their paths crossed.

“Grateful for what I have and that I can make her life a little bit better,” said Haun.

Click here for complete coverage on the Sevier County wildfires.