Surprisingly it wasn’t an alligator but something else that had found its way into the storm drain. And freeing the trapped animal wasn’t going to be easy. Still, the rescue attempt was worth persevering with: after all, if it wasn’t successful, the poor creature would likely die.
Animals seem to get stuck in the darnedest of places, so it perhaps wasn’t too surprising when, in October 2016, someone called the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) about a creature secreted in a storm drain. It turned out, though, to be a trickier rescue than society staff expected.
Still, the Michigan Humane Society was the right place to call, as the not-for-profit charity helps more than 10,000 animals each year. Indeed, it is the state’s oldest animal welfare group providing veterinary services and several adoption centers. Most of its services, meanwhile, are in or around the city of Detroit.
And not only does the MHS field emergency calls from the public, but it also works in many other areas of animal protection. Specifically, the society additionally investigates cruelty cases, takes in surrendered pets and helps with treating injured wild animals. Its outreach services also include educating the public about animal welfare issues.
As a result, then, MHS was more than willing to take the distress call. And Amanda Boots, a rescue driver for the society, has recounted the event on the society’s YouTube channel. “[We] got dispatched to a call. The caller stated that she was driving down Telegraph when she heard some crying,” she explained.
That cry of distress from the animal, in fact, prompted the woman to get out of her vehicle and investigate. “When she got out of her car, she looked down into the sewer drain,” Boots continued. But what she saw looking back at her came as quite the surprise.
The big, scared eyes the woman saw staring up from the storm drain’s depths belonged to a little gray kitten. Unable to do anything to help the fretting feline herself, though, she rang the Michigan Humane Society. They sent out Boots to help.
But when Boots arrived on the scene, she had to make sure the area was safe to work. “Telegraph is a pretty busy street,” she explained. “So I did have to block one lane of traffic.” What’s more, there was also another problem regarding the kitty’s rescue.
In particular, the sewer grate wouldn’t lift up, making it complicated to reach the crying cat. Usually, an animal control pole would then be looped around the trapped kitten so it could be gently lifted to safety. However, given that such a pole would not fit through the grate, Boots would have to improvise a rescue herself.
“I had to wrap up a few leashes,” she said. “Because the slots were so small, I couldn’t get anything else down there.” As a result, Boots duly made a makeshift lasso to thread through the largest part of the storm drain – even if there was some risk involved in using it.
“Once I lowered the leashes down, I got it around the cat,” the rescuer described. In ordinary circumstances, a loop would be threaded in bandolier-style over the kitten’s neck and foreleg. Given the lack of maneuverability in the sewer grate, though, that wasn’t possible for Boots to do.
“I couldn’t do what we normally do and try to get it around the front way,” Boots said. The only option, then, was to get the hoop as carefully as possible around the cat’s neck. It wasn’t as safe, but something had to be done for the kitten.
Boots wasn’t worried, though. “It was such a short distance up, it was the safest thing to do,” she said. “It was very quick; I just reached it around the back and pulled the kitten out.” Fortunately, then, the cat was safe before it was in any real danger.
And Boots also explained that her last-ditch attempt to snag the feline was born out of desperation. “There was no other way to get the kitten out,” she said. “If I wouldn’t have done [it] the way I did, the kitten probably [would have died] down there.”
No one can say how long the cat eventually named Winnie was trapped in the sewer, but she had been stuck long enough to get soaked in rancid water. She was wet and cold, and Boots also noted that she stank like the sewer. After her ordeal, then, the little kitten was taken to a shelter to recover.
When Winnie arrived at the Michigan Humane Society, moreover, she was taken to the vet for a medical check-up, along with a flea dip and a bath to remove the stench. Of course, no one wanted the poor kitten grooming herself and ingesting sewage water.
“She [got] all of her vaccines and we ended up warming disks – a heating pad – and wrapping it around her to keep her warm,” Boots explained. In fact, she would get the executive treatment until she was well enough for adoption. Fortunately, then, she recovered very soon.
But while Winnie seemed mostly healthy, she was nevertheless kept in the Humane Society’s observational room overnight as a precaution. This also gave the kitty an opportunity to warm up after her stint in the cold sewer. And her experience did nothing to dampen her love for life.
“Winnie is now a happy, healthy [and] very playful kitten,” Boots reported. “It was thanks to your life-saving support that we were able to go out there and get her out of the sewer.” Indeed, good Samaritans are an integral part of what allows the society to successfully rescue animals in need and find them furever homes.
It’s unlikely that such an adorable little furbaby will be left looking for her adoptive humans for very long. Until then, the Michigan Humane Society will make sure Winnie is safe and sound, and she is guaranteed a home with the MHS for as long as she needs it.