DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Cats, kittens and one dog were rescued from a house fire on Church Street Wednesday night.

Those cats are doing well now under the care of Macon County Animal Control.

Understandably, pets are a high priority for homeowners when a fire breaks out. But the American Red Cross and fire officials advise you against putting yourself at risk to save them.

"You can do more good on the outside when you exit your house by giving us information on who's inside, or where people are located, or where the pets are located so we can go in and get them,” Decatur Fire Department Deputy Chief Rich Pruitt said. “But definitely do not re-enter the building."

The Red Cross says it's good to practice an emergency exit plan, and train animals to come when called. While a person's instinct may be to leave doors open so pets can escape, closing them can actually give the pet a better chance of survival.

"From our experience they'll either hide under beds or go to a basement to try to get away from what's going on,” the deputy chief explained. “It's good to close doors behind you as you're leaving a structure that will prevent the spread of fire."

Pruitt says as soon as a fire has been contained and it's safe to do so, firefighters will work to save pets. He says several pets have been treated with special gear partially provided by WAND-TV.

"We do have the opportunity to administer oxygen to the pet if necessary. Getting the animal oxygen as fast as possible is the best treatment for a pet that has suffered smoke inhalation," he shared.

If the homeowner is away, the American Red Cross suggests leaving pets near the entrances of the home so they're easier for firefighters to locate. It also recommends posting the number of pets inside on the outside of the home.

Of course, firefighters add that a working smoke alarm is always an important safety tool when it comes to house fires.

For more helpful information from the Red Cross, click here.