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Monday, June 24, 2024

Firefighters save kitten from storm drain

Gainesville Fire Rescue driver and operator Alan Dubose handles Wallie, a kitten that was rescued a from a storm drain Sunday afternoon.
Gainesville Fire Rescue driver and operator Alan Dubose handles Wallie, a kitten that was rescued a from a storm drain Sunday afternoon.

The cries for help from a kitten stuck in a storm drain 20 feet below ground came to an end on Sunday when a Gainesville firefighter saved the forsaken feline.

The animal was trapped at Walmart, 2649 NW 13th St., where the employees told Mary Marion,  of Lake City, nothing could be done to help the kitten.

“I just had to do something,” she said.

She called 911, and Gainesville Fire Rescue  arrived at the scene at 3:25 p.m.

“I thought this situation would be easy,” said Jeff Lane, Fire Department district chief. “But the situation was more complex because of possible hazardous materials in the drainage pipe, such as hydrogen sulfide.”

Firefighters first removed the large grates covering the drainage vault and tried unsuccessfully to coax the kitten with cat food.

When that didn’t work, firefighter David Sutton crawled in the dangerous, vile air pipe to grab the kitten.

“At first the kitten did not want to be rescued. She clawed and bit at my glove,” he said.

After an hour, the kitten was saved at 4:30 p.m.

Once brought to the surface, the distressed animal was greeted with applause and shouts of joy from the crowd that gathered to watch the firefighter’s efforts to save her.

“In all my 20 years, this case is by far the most challenging cat rescue,” Lane said. “Even though we are not in the animal services business, we serve the public, and this was a life that needed to be saved.”

How the cat got in the drainage pipe is still a mystery, he said.   

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Walmart employee Diane Brault adopted the kitten on the spot and agreed to quarantine her for 10 days as a precaution.

“I felt so bad for the kitten that I just wanted to take her home and take care of her,” she said.

The kitten’s new name is Wallie, and she is reportedly in much better condition.  

“We gave her the name Wallie because she was found in the Walmart parking lot,” Brault said with a smile on her face.

The cries for help from a kitten stuck in a storm drain 20 feet below ground came to an end on Sunday when Gainesville Fire Rescue saved the forsaken feline.

The animal was trapped at Walmart, 2649 NW 13th St., where the employees told Mary Marion, of Lake City, nothing could be done to help the kitten.

"I just had to do something," she said. So, she called 911, and the fire department arrived to the scene at 3:25 p.m.

"I thought this situation would be easy," said Jeff Lane, fire department district chief. "But the situation was more complex because of possible hazardous materials in the drainage pipe, such as hydrogen sulfide."

Firefighters first removed the large grates covering the drainage vault and tried unsuccessfully to coax the kitten with cat food.

When that didn't work, Firefighter David Sutton crawled in the dangerous, vile air pipe to grab the kitten.

"At first the kitten did not want to be rescued. She clawed and bit at my glove," he said.

After an hour, the kitten was saved at 4:30 p.m.

Once brought to the surface, the distressed animal was greeted with applause and shouts of joy from the crowd that gathered to watch the firefighter's efforts.

"In all my 20 years, this case is by far the most challenging cat rescue, Lane said. "Even though we are not in the animal services business, we serve the public and this was a life that needed to be saved."

How the cat got in the drainage pipe is still a mystery, he said.

Walmart employee Diane Brault adopted the kitten on-the-spot and agreed to quarantine her for 10 days as a precaution.

"I felt so bad for the kitten, that I just wanted to take her home and take care of her," she said.

The kitten's new name is Wallie and she is reportedly in much better condition.

"We gave her the name Wallie because she was found in the Walmart parking lot," her new owner said with a smile on her face.

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