Kitten gets purrfect rescue by Austin firefighters

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Photos via Austin Fire Department

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A kitten in Austin, Texas was rescued over the weekend and found a loving home.

The kitten was trapped in a drain, as is not uncommon, but concrete barriers to the rescue made the operation time consuming and requiring finesse. Austin firefighters rescued the kitten and one of them gave kitty a good home.

The Austin Fire Department shared the rescue story at Facebook yesterday, saying: “It was a puuuuuurrrrrr-fect rescue! About 5:30 p.m. yesterday, a concerned citizen walked up to Station 2 and reported that there was a cat stuck in a drain at the University Baptist Church located at 2107 San Antonio.

“The Engine 2/A shift crew—Lt. Matt Heck, Fire Specialist Dave Skowron, Firefighter John Wier, and Firefighter Adam Aguirre—drove up to the church where they found the small black cat wedged in a very narrow concrete drainage system. The cat could not move forward and was unable (and unwilling) to walk backward and get turned around in the narrow pipe.

“After almost two hours trying to get the cat out, and with the permission of the church, the decision was made to cut the concrete. Rescue 14’s Capt. Matt Rush, Fire Specialist Brein Brown, Firefighter Jason Rodriguez, and Firefighter Jacob Whittington joined in and, utilizing a concrete saw and firefighters’ ingenuity, the cat was rescued unharmed.

“The ingenious part was how the crews were able to pull apart the pavers to access the concrete, place a protective curtain between the area they were cutting and the cat, and then make a cut that was just big enough to remove the cat but at the same time minimize the damage to the drainage pipe.

“The cat had no collar or identification so Lt. Heck who, along with his wife, Leah often care for stray cats, had Leah meet him at the scene with a cat carrier. The vet techs at Austin Vet Care @ Central Park (special thanks to them!) that checked out the kitty after hearing the story started calling the female cat, “Piper.” Piper, now her official name, won the heart of Lt. Heck and his wife, and so will be joining their family permanently!

“After the rescue, the firefighters diligently restored the area around the drainage pipe. Great job Engine 2 and Rescue 14!!”

KXAN covered the story and filled in some details.  The kitten was trapped in a 4-inch wide space, and the outcome of the mission was up in the air due to the difficulties presented by the small space and concrete barriers. An engine company, a rescue company and two battalion chiefs, who were able to respond to other calls if needed, came to help, and the rescue took several hours.

“I’m an animal lover and my crew loves to help, so we showed up and tried to do what we could do,” Lt. Matt Heck told the news crew, adding that there were points when he feared that the kitten wouldn’t be saved.

“If you can’t help the little things in life… Why else would you be in this job? Lt. Heck added. “That’s why I joined … to look out for people who need help, and that includes animals — in my book.”

“We tried to not occupy too many resources, but we don’t say what the emergency is. All we gotta do is fix it,” Heck said.

“That’s why I love this job and I love this department,” Lt. Heck said. “There was a point where I felt like we were out of ideas to get the animal out. It’s sort of what you do… you call a friend. You’ve got 45 trucks with a bunch of friends and a bunch of smart people, so call the right guys and get it solved.”

Piper is one of many cats Lt. Heck and his wife have rescued. The KXAN news report says the firefighter will have Piper fixed and vaccinated and will either keep her or turn her over to a rescue group for rehoming. However, the fire department says that the Hecks are adopting Piper and giving her a home.

 

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Crews spent two hours trying to free the cat without having to cut the concrete, but to no avail.

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Time to get out the concrete saw!

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Lt. Matt Heck from Engine 2/A shift goes in for the grab.

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…and voila! One freed kitty!

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Staff at Austin Vet Care @ Central Park check out “Piper,” as she was dubbed by one of them after hearing her story.

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Piper is the cat’s meow–she’s off to a new, permanent, loving home with Lt. Heck and his family!

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