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Firefighters save cat

January 12, 2000

RockyBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




FUNKSTOWN - When Phyllis Grove's five-year-old cat Rocky ran away from her Funkstown home last July she thought she might never see her pet again.

cont. from front page

The male domestic short hair cat had liver and kidney problems and was receiving medication for the potentially fatal ailment.

Trying to keep her hopes up, Grove posted signs at the post office and at other locations in town hoping someone could help her find Rocky.

On Sunday someone did.

Just before 10 a.m. Sunday, Tina Adams of Funkstown was looking out her East Baltimore Street window when she noticed at cat hanging upside down from a fence.

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The faintly meowing anima was suspended by its right rear leg, which was stuck between the slats.

Adams called for help and the Williamsport Fire Department - covering for the Funkstown Fire Department whose members were in training - was dispatched.

Led by Williamsport Captain Fred Cole, firefighters Gary Lady, Greg Patterson, Alan Williams, Scott Braguiner and Sam Horning freed the cat by removing some of the boards from the 7-foot fence.

"When we got it down it was limp and cold. It was in rough shape," said Cole. There was no way of knowing how long the cat had been stuck there, he said.

Fearing for its life, the firefighters rushed down the street to the Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown where veterinarian technician Erin Mills was caring for other animals inside the clinic, which is normally closed on Sundays.

"I heard them tapping on the window in full firefighters uniforms and thought 'Where's the fire?'" said Mills.

The firefighters took the animal inside and Mills said they had three options: Place a deposit to have the cat treated, notify Animal Control, or have the cat destroyed since it appeared to be a stray.

The firefighters dug into their own pockets and came up with $70 - just $5 shy of the $75 deposit needed for treatment.

The clinic waived the remaining $5, said Mills.

"We would have taken $20" if that was all they had, she said.

The fee covered an exam and the stabilization of the cat. At that point, Cole and Lady agreed to take financial responsibility for the cat. Lady was prepared to adopt the feline if necessary, he said.

The next day, Veterinarian Charlene McCumons told the firefighters the cat's leg was so severely damaged that it would have to be amputated.

On Tuesday, McCumons performed the 45-minute surgery that left Rocky with three legs, many stitches and a portion of his flank shaved.

The firefighters named the as yet-unclaimed pet Tripod, for obvious reasons.

Following the procedure, employees at the clinic realized the cat belonged to Phyllis Grove and that they had treated it before.

"I was pretty excited to find out he's alive, even with only three legs," said Grove, who has about 20 pets including cats, dogs and horses.

By Wednesday, Grove was able to visit Rocky, which by that time could stand up and was playful.

She said she was grateful to the firefighters for their efforts and planned to reimburse them.

McCumons said Rocky should recover fully from the surgery and has already started to adapt to having only three legs.

The veterinarian said it was amazing Rocky was in such good condition considering he hadn't had his liver and kidney medication since July and had to fend for himself for food.

"He must be a great mouser," said McCumons.

The 6-pound cat will have to take it easy for a while and his days as an outdoor cat are over, said McCumons.

His stitches will be removed in about 10 to 14 days and he should be able to go home afterward, she said.

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