Published: September 29, 2012
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
ST. THOMAS - An animal advocacy group is praising the V.I. Fire Service for helping save the life of an endangered feline earlier this week.
Cassandra Mallory, a volunteer with the Lucky Paws Foundation, said the cat was near a Frenchman's Bay feeding site, one of several so-called "cat cafes" the Foundation provides in the territory. Mallory said she found the cat on Tuesday while making her daily rounds to feed the cats.
"One just seemed like more of a distressed meow and not at the cat cafe," Mallory said.
She followed the sound and realized it was coming from the bottom of an 18-foot tall cement structure. Mallory climbed up, looked down and realized a cat had somehow fallen to the bottom of the enclosure. She said the cat appeared to be OK and was running around in about 3 inches of water.
"I couldn't say, 'Here, kitty, kitty,' and have it jump into my arms and carry it out," Mallory said. "But it was not in danger. It was fine."
She said another man standing nearby started working with her to save the cat. He nailed together a few pieces of plywood that reached to the bottom of the basin hoping the cat would climb out on his own.
Mallory left to another feed site, and when she came back, she did not hear or see the cat, so she assumed it had gotten out. But when she came back Wednesday, she heard the same distressed meowing.
"Only it's fainter," Mallory said.
Another person called the Fire Service and told them the cat was not in immediate danger so they did not need to use a siren and make a scene.
"Twenty minutes later, here comes this fire truck and four firefighters," Mallory said.
She said Cpl. Jeffrey Sibley climbed up to the rim of the structure with a net on the end of a long pole, while another firefighter tried to prod the cat into the net. Firefighters Nathan Harris, Derek Turnbull and Patricia Benjamin assisted on the call.
After about 10 minutes, they caught the cat in the net, scooped it up and brought it out. The cat, which the foundation previously neutered and has known about for several years, scurried off into the bush, Mallory said.
Mallory said she was most impressed with the firefighters' attitudes.
"They said they were happy to do it and it's their job to serve the community," Mallory said. "I was so taken aback by the comment because unfortunately not everyone in our community feels like animals are important. So I was glad to have them say that."
V.I. Fire Service Assistant Director Daryl George said the rescue was an example of the Fire Service's new "all-in-one" initiative.
"They call us, and we respond to anything," George said. "We're an all-hazard department. We've been doing it, but we've just been stepping it up."
When told of Mallory's reaction to the firefighters' work and attitude, George said it is all part of the job.
"We show up in the best interest of the public - cats and all," he said.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.