This story reminds me of those steers that escape the slaughterhouse in the 11th hour and run for their lives.
Skibbles is not a steer, but a cat who unfortunately was in the care of someone who said she had three cats and they were too much so she was getting rid of them. Our story begins as she was boxing them up for a trip to the York County SPCA which is overrun with cats. Skibbles’ future was bleak.
Perhaps he knew that. Because as his owner (boo! hiss!) was boxing him up for his one-way trip, he bolted and ran up a pine tree in the back yard.
Skibbles remained tree-bound for the next three days, about 30 feet from the ground.
“We thought it would come down. It didn’t,” said Angel Mendoza, a neighbor who could see the cat from his apartment. “We put food at the bottom of the tree, but it didn’t come down.”
Skibbles was a little hard to see, but you sure could hear him, yowling pitifully day and night.
Mendoza said he tried to find someone to rescue the cat, to no avail. He called 911. The dispatcher recommended he call the SPCA. The SPCA recommended he call 911.
The fire department did investigate whether or not to attempt a rescue. Chief Steve Buffington said that the department does still attempt to rescue treed cats, but evaluates each situation on its own merits.
In this case, he said, the alley was too narrow to accommodate a ladder truck and electrical wires would make putting up a free-standing ladder hazardous.
“We aren’t heartless,” said Buffington, who, in his years with the department, has rescued his share of cats. “We do care. But in our officer’s judgment, in this case, it wasn’t safe to try a rescue.”
One neighbor tried throwing a rope over a nearby branch, hoping to pulley a laundry basket containing cat food next to Skibbles to affect a rescue. But she couldn’t throw the rope high enough.
Even a fierce Autumnal storm couldn’t drive Skibbles out.
Families throughout the neighborhood (with the exception of Skibbles’ owner) were concerned about the cat and tried to help.
Mandy Glisan, who lives in the first floor of Mendoza’s building, said neighbors went out at night with flashlights to keep Skibbles company and to try to lure him down.
“The poor thing keeps meowing,” she said.
Then, Friday afternoon, a local tree trimmer, called by another neighbor, climbed up the tree and rescued Skibbles. Mendoza did not know whether Skibbles had been shipped off to the SPCA.
We’re hoping one of the neighbors took pity on Skibbles and gave the story a happy ending.
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