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Old January 19th, 2003, 08:24 PM
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A Nutty tale: Jaws of Life rescue cat

A Nutty tale: Jaws of Life Rescue Cat

By Kelly Harris
dawsoncreek

Friday, January 10, 2003

In a twist to the old standby of a fireman rescuing a cat from a tree, the Dawson Creek Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to free a trapped feline from a storm sewer.

The howls of Nutty, the name given by the SPCA to the two-year-old black and white male, prompted investigation Jan. 2 by Calgarian Dave Hill, who was visiting his mother-in-law and daughter in Dawson Creek over New Year's. For three days he heard the cat-calls yet couldn't find the furry feline.

On the third day of hearing the howls, Jan. 5, Hill looked in the storm sewer and, taking a line from Tweety bird he "thought he saw a puddy tat" and the Nutty tale began.

"I heard this moaning and I thought it was a cat in a tree," Hill said. "On the third day we were leaving, but I wasn't going to drive back to Calgary without finding out where that cat was.

"I walked over and looked down and saw the cat meowing out of the sewer."

The problem, Hill quickly found, was that the sewer grate had been paved over and there was no way to rescue the feline. Furthermore, the cat couldn't fit through the grates so there was no sign as to how he even got in the sewer in the first place.

The next step was to call the SPCA and try and employ their help. After SPCA staff members Laura Moffat and Michelle Wingerak arrived, they discovered Hill's fears were right and could see no way to rescue Nutty.

Moffat employed the first tool in the rescue and used her cellular telephone to call the city.

City crewmember Scott Gouriley arrived and attempted to use a pry bar to get the sewer grate open. That effort and several others failed to free the feline and the next step was needed.

Enter city fireman Sheldon Munroe. Not needing the ladder, the conventional tool for rescuing a cat up a tree, he assessed the situation and used exactly the right tool for the job.

He used the Jaws of Life to pry open the heavy steel cage to allow enough room for the cat to get through the grate.

However, the banging and racket set Nutty scurrying down the sewer too far for Hill or the SPCA staff to reach him.

"He was very frightened," Wingerak said. "He went back down the pipe."

Luckily, a bag of pet treats could be employed and the cat came back. The SPCA was able to take Nutty back to their office, give him a bath and get him some food.

Wingerak said the shorthaired male is recovering from the ordeal nicely at the SPCA and credited everyone involved for their help in the rescue.

"He was very skinny and dehydrated," she said of Nutty's condition at time of rescue. "It is very heart-warming, I was quite moved by (the rescue)? and that everybody stayed to the end."

The SPCA is required to hold the animal for at least four days hoping Nutty's owner will come or call to claim the cat. However, Nutty can be adopted after that and that is something Hill would have no problem doing.

"If nobody claims the cat I'll take him," he said.

The Calgarian, who has had many animals throughout his life and along with his wife shares his home with a cat, said it would be neat to adopt Nutty.

"I met my wife through a newspaper ad," he said. "Now maybe I'll get a cat that I found in a sewer."

Copyright 2003 Peace River Block Daily News
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