After pitifully meowing for help for several days, a 5-lb, five-month-old kitten stuck within a wall near Petsmart in San Luis Obispo was rescued earlier this week. Paul Williams, Petsmart employee extraordinaire, extricated the lucky black cat after three hours of “intense demolition” with a jackhammer removed sufficient concrete from the wall to free her.
Lucky suffered scratches to her face and legs, was treated for dehydration, and will likely suffer from jackhammerphobia for the rest of her life, but she was otherwise in fairly good shape, given her ordeal. Here’s the story:
Paul Williams, manager of PetSmart in the Irish Hills Shopping Center, said customers were coming into his store late last week and telling him they could hear a cat crying from somewhere inside a planter next to his building.
A county Animal Services officer came Sunday with an infrared scope borrowed from the San Luis Obispo Fire Department.
It couldnt look through dirt and concrete, said Eric Anderson, Animal Services manager, so rescue efforts were put off until the following day. Meanwhile, Lucky cried on.
Officers were back on the scene Monday morning with a fiber-optic scope theyd borrowed from the county Bomb Task Force.
But despite Luckys cries, they couldnt locate her. By now, crowds were beginning to swell around the planter. But as night fell, rescue attempts were again called off. Luckys heartbreaking litany continued.
Tuesday morning, Lucky was spotted with the fiber optics. She had apparently wedged herself into a two-inch-wide drainage canal.
Wanting as much to show support as to get a hot dog at Costco, Sheriffs Department spokesman Rob Bryn said, Sheriff Pat Hedges and Undersheriff Steve Bolts were on the scene Tuesday morning.
Hedges called Clint Pearce, president of Madonna Enterprises, and asked if a hole could be punched into the wall. Pearce didnt hesitate and called in a crew with jackhammers, portable saws and sledgehammers. Hedges added a five-man crew of inmates to help. Lucky cried on.
After drilling into the wall, it became apparent that J.W. Design, builders of the center, had spared no expense when it came to constructing the wall; it was heavy-duty concrete liberally laced with steel rebar.
We had a choice, Pearce said. We could let it die or break down the planter wall and create space to get it out.
We had to be really careful. We didnt want the cure to kill the cat, he added. So wed jackhammer a bit, then stop, then take a hand chisel and hammer to widen the hole.
Demolition continued until dark, and although Lucky had moved farther back into the wall, she still sounded strong. I cant believe the crazy dedication of those workers, said PetSmarts Williams. They got through this wall and no cat.
Later, while closing up the store, Williams, a self-described animal activist, took some water and kibble out and dropped it into the hole. I saw a paw swipe at the kibble, he said.
He lay down in the planter box and peered into the hole with the help of a flashlight, and there was Lucky. But it didnt look good.
Its eyes were closed and its tongue was hanging out, Williams said. It looked like it had given up, and that really hit home.
I really started pounding and finally could touch her but she didnt respond, he said. So we got a turkey baster and squirted her with water and she started lapping it up.
I got hold of her front paws. Im a pretty small guy with skinny arms, but I was still concerned about getting my arms stuck, which would have been a whole other story.
Although my arms were bleeding, we got her out on simple adrenaline, Williams said.
By 9:30 p.m., Lucky was on her way to Central Coast Pet Emergency in Arroyo Grande, where shes being treated free of charge for severe dehydration and some nasty abrasions on her face, rear and paws, said Courtney Jackson, practice manager.
As it turns out, Lucky is a totally black 5-month-old that weighs around five pounds. After Pet Emergency fixes her up over the next few days, Lucky will go to Animal Services.
For legal purposes, Anderson said, we have to treat her like a stray and put her up for adoption. Well get her altered and vaccinations, and well look very carefully at getting her a good home.
He may have to look no further than Pearce, who said she could join his other barn cats and live the life of Riley, dining on mice. Lucky kitty.
For information on how to adopt this or other shelter cats, call the San Luis Obispo County Animal Services shelter at 805-781-4400. No word on whether you get a discount on the adoption fee for Lucky since she only has eight of her nine lives remaining.
A big thanks to our great friend Bogdan (left) for tipping us off to this heartwarming animal-rescue story from his neck of the woods in Central California.