Firefighters rescue kitten stuck in pipe

Firefighter Ryle Fitzgerald holds the rescued kitten. Photo supplied by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

Firefighters can still be counted on to rescue a cat in distress.

It wasn’t a cat stuck in a tree but a black kitten trapped in a water drainage pipe that summoned Menlo Park Fire Protection District firefighters to Selby Lane in Atherton around 4:30 p.m. Friday (March 15).

A resident called the fire station to report that she had heard a kitten crying all morning and discovered that it had slipped down the drainage pipe. Firefighters used cellphone photos and video to locate the kitten trapped at least 14 feet below a concrete walking deck in a pipe that was only 4 inches in diameter.

At 5:16 p.m., San Mateo County Animal Control was called to the home to take over the rescue operation, but when its efforts failed, the firefighters were summoned back.

They tried reaching the kitten with a half-inch rescue rope line specific to human rescue operations, but that too failed.

Finally, fire engineer Joey Quadt and probationary firefighter Ryle Fitzgerald employed a noose system using twine in another effort to retrieve the kitten. After about an hour of effort, they finally succeeded in freeing the kitten from the pipe.

The kitten was named “Ryle” after its rescuer, who was dubbed the “cat whisperer” by his crewmates and Animal Control officers. Fitzgerald is considering adopting the kitten, according to the fire district.

“It’s amazing all of the strange predicaments both humans and animals can get themselves into. Just when I think we’ve seen it all, something new comes along,” said Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

— Bay City News