Earlier this week, residents in a Pennsylvania neighborhood listened helplessly to a cat mewing for days because it was hopelessly stuck high in a tree. Finally, self-proclaimed cat-lover, Tara Dennis, had enough of the heartbreaking cries and decided to climb the tree herself to rescue the distraught kitty. “I love animals,” she told the Erie Times-News. “I could not let the cat stay up there.”
So, the 21-year-old bravely scaled a fence, jumped onto a garage roof and then shimmied her way over to a low tree branch. Once on the tree she climbed upwards – until she was about 40-feet off the ground – before finally reaching the cat. She grabbed the petrified kitty and put it the only place she thought safe – in her shirt. Then she started back down the tree.
But as her almost-rescued feline already knew, climbing up a tree is much easier than climbing down a tree. Dennis soon found herself in her own tree-bound pickle. Unable to go any farther down the tree safely, she yelled to neighbor, Mark Tirak, to call 911.
Dispatch sent the fire department and it took a 28-foot ladder to reach Dennis and the cat. Firefighters took the kitty, whose name and owner were never discovered, down first and then they assisted Dennis.
Erie Deputy Fire Chief, Jeff Carroll, said the fire department does not typically respond to emergency calls about cats stuck in trees, but because a person was now stuck in the tree with the cat, they were obligated to come to the rescue. “Normally, we recommend they just let animals come down by themselves.”
This seems to deliver a mixed message. If a cat is stuck in a tree, a human must put their life in harm’s way before the local fire department will respond? Tree climbing, let alone tree climbing while handling a scared kitty, is potentially very dangerous. Would it not be in everyone’s best interest if the fire department just responded in a timely fashion (in between more urgent emergencies, of course) to calls about tree-bound cats?
Interestingly, whether a fire department will respond (or not) to a call about a cat struck in a tree seems to be at the discretion of the dispatch operator and/or the Fire Chief. Some fire departments will regularly do cat rescues (see awesome video on next page), while others matter-of-factly will not. According to a friend of mine who is a fire fighter, if the 911 caller reports that not only is a cat stuck in a tree, but that a person is about to climb up and rescue it, the fire department is more likely to respond. They are also more likely to respond if the cat has been tree-bound for multiple days.
Next page – A fire department in Modesto, California with a big heart for tree-bound felines, rescues a hysterical cat stuck for five days in a tall tree.