Eggertsville Firefighters Rescue Kitten Trapped In Storm Sewer

Patricia, rescued from a storm drain by Eggertsville Firefighters July 22, 2019

From Buffalo News; see additional photos and read more here >>

By Keith McShea | Published 10:51 a.m. July 23, 2019

Firefighters actually do save cats from trees sometimes. And they also rescue them from storm sewers.

The Eggertsville Hose Company, with some help from neighborhood residents and children, rescued a stray kitten who had fallen into a storm drain on Harcroft Court in Amherst Monday night.

After neighborhood children heard the kitten crying from the sewer, firefighters arrived, opened three storm drains to isolate the cat, and used some sardines supplied by a neighbor to lure the cat to within arm’s reach.

The effort, which lasted just over an hour, ended when firefighter Pat Boyle was able to get a hold of the kitten and lift him out of the sewer to applause from children and photo-snapping neighbors.

“It was great, it was almost like heart-melting to see all the kids when I brought it out,” said Boyle. “Everybody brought their phones out, everyone wanted a picture of it … it was a great feeling.”

Ten firefighters including First Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Peters were involved in the nontraditional rescue, which lasted from 8:20 to 9:35 p.m. No residents knew where the kitten came from, while firefighters estimated it to be 2- to 4-weeks-old. The SPCA took custody of the kitten following the rescue.

“There was a lot of community involvement, it was really kind of fun, and it’s always fun when there’s a good outcome,” said past chief and public information officer John Buttino, who was also on scene. “We’re a volunteer department and we answer over 1,200 calls a year – that was our fourth call of the day. It was a non-routine call and definitely unique.

“It just goes by what residents do: When they can’t solve a problem, they’ll call the fire department, and they seem to fix things.”

Firefighters engaged in a game of cat and air hose to rescue the kitten. Firefighters had to find out which parts of the maze of storm sewers the cat was in, and then used an air hose to make a commotion in an effort to direct the cat to a location where they could reach it.

“The storm sewers are all connected via tubing, and the cat was probably halfway through one sewer under the road when we got there,” said Boyle.

Firefighters then opened a cover on the opposite side of the road and put an air line down to try and direct it back to the other side. They never had to enter the tubes; the storm sewers were relatively shallow, coming up chest-high to firefighters.

“We turned on some air on very low volume, trying to entice it to come out the other side, which it did … it came running out, but then it ran into another hole on the other side,” said Boyle.

Eggertsville Hose Company firefighters check out the storm sewers in search of a trapped kitten. (photo courtesy of Chris Pyzynski)

Firefighters then opened another manhole cover to block that escape route.

“We missed him on the first try and he went shooting down another pipe, so we capped the one pipe off and went down the other end,” said Buttino.

Meanwhile, a crowd of residents had gathered.

“At first we could hear it crying a little bit,” said Harcroft Court resident Chris Pyzynski, who said she lives two houses down from the scene. “Then finally we could hear it quite a bit, it sounded distressed.”

While Buttino and other firefighters used the air hose to direct the kitten back to the original manhole, Boyle could see it getting closer and closer.

“It was sitting in there crying and we could hear it meowing,” Boyle said. “That’s when we took the sardines and placed it down on the edge of the hole, and he came to the edge of the hole, but he kept scooting back in. Finally, he came out enough that I was able to grab him by the scruff of the neck and remove him from the hole.”

Buttino and his crew were about 150 feet away at the other manhole.

“You could hear the uproar down the street,” Buttino said. “They all started cheering and applauding down there, and we were like, ‘I think they got it.’ ”

Four members of the Town of Amherst engineering department were called in for their expertise; the engineers had just left to get their equipment when the cat was rescued.

“It was really cool – we all thanked them, and clapped a little bit and cheered a little bit – we didn’t want to scare the kitten,” said Pyzynski. “People stayed around there the whole time to make sure it was alright. We were proud of our firemen, and we told them that.”

The kitten, named Patricia by the SPCA in honor of firefighter Patrick Boyle, will be put in foster care.

Firefighters treated the kitten with oxygen via an animal mask right after rescuing it, Boyle said, “just to make sure it was OK.” Boyle wrapped up the kitten in a towel and it got a ride back to the Eggertsville station on a fire truck, where representatives from the SPCA retrieved the cat later Monday night.

SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca said the kitten, which is a female, was in an incubator Tuesday afternoon and will undergo an exam today.

“We wanted to make sure she got some nice, clean, pure air,” said Lattuca. “Since she was in a storm drain, sometimes animals can breathe things in that can cause internal damage.”

Lattuca said a foster family has been lined up to care for the kitten, and that foster care families have the first chance to adopt foster-care animals. The kitten will be picked up Wednesday morning, and the foster family was not aware of last night’s rescue.

“We have the best people who provide foster care – they don’t care if it’s a celebrity kitten,” Lattuca said.

Lattuca said the kitten has been named “Patricia” by the SPCA in honor of firefighter Patrick Boyle.

From Buffalo News; see additional photos and read more here >>


July 11, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

The SPCA Serving Erie County will offer its third Pet First Aid Class of the year Saturday, August 3, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at its 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location.

Instructors will cover the symptoms of serious emergencies that require immediate treatment, hands-on animal CPR with CPR mannequin resusci-dog Spot, muzzling demonstrations, bandaging demonstrations, and will offer a comprehensive lecture portion on recognizing and appropriately handling life-threatening emergencies.

Included in the $20.00 registration fee is a take-home booklet for easy reference, and contact information for area emergency veterinarians.

Registration is required and interested parties can register here. Space is limited, so hurry!  Please watch, Facebook, or Twitter for future class announcements!

The Roar of Hakuna CATata: This July at the SPCA!

July 11, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

Love will find a way, anywhere we go. We’re home if we are there together. Simba, Disney’s “The Lion King”

We can’t promise no worries for the rest of your days…but we can promise a purring, little lion by your side while you figure out your problem-free philosophy!

Hakuna CATata begins at the SPCA Serving Erie County Monday, July 15, when all cats one year of age and older will be available for half off their regular adoption fees! Cats one year through five years of age will be available for $60 and cats older than five will be available for $25 through Wednesday,
July 31. Bonded pairs are available for one adoption fee.

Hakuna CATata roars through the SPCA July 15 – 31, 2019

(Cats 21 weeks through one year of age and kittens 20 weeks of age and younger will be available for their regular adoption fees of $120.00 and $175 respectively.)

Included with the adoption fee is the cat’s spay/neuter surgery; age-appropriate vaccinations; initial worming; flea control medicine; feline leukemia test; microchip; temporary identification; a certificate for the new pet’s first physical examination at the SPCA’s Lipsey Clinic or at the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society’s veterinarian of choice; the option of a 30-day pet health insurance plan provided by 24PetWatch; and while supplies last, a bag of Purina cat food.

The special applies to cats temporarily residing at the SPCA’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca site, or one of several offsite adoption locations.

See photos of cats available in West Seneca here, and for a list of offsite adoption locations along with photos of cats available at these sites, see our Offsite Adoptions page here. Questions about Hakuna CATata? Call SPCA Adoptions: 716-875-7360, ext. 233.


Kitty Crew Member Returned to Tall Ship After Brief Port of Call in Buffalo

July 8, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

All hands were on deck at the the SPCA Serving Erie County’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca site late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

When a good Samaritan brought a stray kitty to the SPCA at approximately 10:30 p.m. Friday, July 5, she was certain the cat had an owner somewhere. After all, the young cat was wearing a harness, and her ID tag said Fiji.

To ensure the four-legged visitor found on Erie Street in Buffalo didn’t require critical veterinary care, SPCA Veterinary Technician Lana Bilger immediately examined the friendly feline, who appeared unharmed, unhurt, and in excellent condition. But after scanning the cat, the SPCA crew realized she clearly had no microchip identification, and further examination of the ID tag on the cat’s harness raised questions; on the back of that tag, Lana noticed the words ‘Picton Castle.’

The SPCA;s Lana examines Fiji, brought in as a stray late Friday evening, July 5

Unaware of whether this was the name of the cat’s owner, the name of the cat’s hometown, or even, possibly, the name of the cat, SPCA representatives did a quick internet search of the words “Fiji,” “Picton Castle,” and “cat”…and within seconds, it became clear that this cat was a crew member of one of the tall ships, the Picton Castle, currently visiting Buffalo, NY!

Fiji’s bio on the Picton Castle’s ‘Ship and Crew’ page at

Understanding that the ship’s departure was scheduled for the weekend, Lana and SPCA Veterinary Assistant Chelsea knew that it was critical a reunion happen in a short period of time. SPCA Cruelty Investigations Officer Jay Ivory  made a call to the ship’s headquarters in Nova Scotia at approximately 12 a.m. EST Saturday morning, Lana sent an email to the address provided on the ship’s website, Fiji was set up in her own personal suite with refreshments and blankets, and the wait began.

Chelsea and Fiji

By Saturday afternoon, SPCA reps still had not heard back from the Picton Castle and started to create an alternate plan, when SPCA volunteer and AdvoCAT Cary Munschauer heard the cat’s tale and remembered that another SPCA volunteer, Donna Camp, was also volunteering to work the Tall Ships Port of Call: Buffalo.

As a volunteer, Donna was given a list of ship contact names and personal phone numbers. One call from the SPCA to one of those numbers led to three response calls from ship representatives in less than thirty minutes!

Fiji was, indeed, the ship’s four-year-old cat, has traveled the world twice over, and often disembarks the Picton Castle to explore the locations being visited before heading back to the ship when the engines start.

By the time the SPCA was contacted, Picton Castle crew members were already on their way to the West Seneca shelter to retrieve their little stowaway (who was actually adopted onto the ship at six weeks of age in 2014, during a Fiji port of call).

Fiji was microchipped by the SPCA. Staff members also worked with crew members on identification information and contact numbers to ensure that, should Fiji’s visit to a future port of call be extended, she will always be returned before the ship shoves off!

Lana caring for Fiji in the SPCA infirmary
Let’s microchip Fiji

An ardent “Ahoy” goes out to the SPCA’s Lana, Chelsea, Cary, Donna, Jay, along with Hilary Lemperle, Aaron Kandefer, and visiting Lincoln Memorial University veterinary student Marissa, who made sure Fiji was cared for, cuddled, properly identified, and prepped for her vessel’s next voyage!

Learn more about Fiji and keep up on her adventures by visiting the Barque Picton Castle!  


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(Please note: the SPCA and its Petique will be closed Thursday, July 4 in honor of Independence Day)

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