PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Friends and admirers are coming to the aid of a Philadelphia artist and animal advocate who lost his home, life’s work, and pets in the Chestnut Street fire in Old City.

Over the years, Al Gury, a professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, has fostered hundreds of cats and kittens. He’s renowned for his kindness and generosity to pets and people.

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(Al Gury / credit: Al Gury)

“To find out that he was the person who not only lost everything he owned, all his life’s work, and his beloved cats, I mean it was just devastating to imagine someone like him could go through a loss like that.”

So Dana Byrnes launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Gury start over, with a goal of $5,000. By late Monday afternoon, more than five times that had been raised.

“This just speaks directly to the type of person he is and the effect he has on others around him,” Byrnes said, “whether it be furry or otherwise.”

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And the fundraising efforts didn’t stop there. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts VP of Administration James Gaddy also launched a GoFundMe campaign with one thing in mind.

“People would come around to helping Al with immediate needs,” Gaddy said. “It was a $5,000 goal.”

By early Monday evening, that tally stood near $40,000.

“Our hope is that Al looks at this now, and says, ‘now is the time for me to feel comfortable stepping into the role of being helped by others.'” Gaddy said.


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