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 >>