Last week, an Itchmo story about two men who rescue cats from trees mentioned that the local fire departments didn’t do that sort of thing anymore. Now from St. Amant, Louisiana comes the story of a compassionate fire department that freed a cat whose head was stuck in a small pipe.
On Saturday, September 22, at 3:20 p.m., the St. Amant, Louisiana Fire Department Rescue Team was dispatched to rescue a cat whose head had been trapped in the pipe for at least 24 hours. The cat, who had lost her leg a year ago, is usually confined to owner Tandy Ragas’ home, but seemed to be doing well when she went out on Friday.
Chief James E. LeBlanc said curiosity was what got the cat into the sticky situation. He said firefighters believed the cat had been chasing a lizard.
St. Amant firefighters used a hydraulic tool to spread the pipe apart and free the cat’s head. LeBlanc said crews used the same technique they’d once used to free a child from an old milk container. They used the tool to split the pipe down the seams. After 25 minutes, the cat was free from danger. It was released to the care of a family friend who works for a local veterinary clinic.
This cat has now used up two of her nine lives, said LeBlanc.
While the days of firefighters rescuing cats from trees might be over (mostly owing to manpower shortages and budget constraints), many fire departments have added pet oxygen masks to their rescue gear to help animals that are overcome by smoke during house fires. Pet welfare groups or individuals usually donate the masks.
In the Texas city of Corpus Christi, Diana Hankins, a program supervisor for the city Parks and Recreation Department, is organizing an event to raise enough money for all 16 fire stations to be equipped with the masks. Corpus Christi Fire Department Battalion Chief Mickie Flores said, “Right now our guys do their best to do a mouth-to-snout sort of thing - it works but it’s nice to have proper equipment. For some people pets are their kids. … Our firefighters know they need to try and rescue them.”