Momma cat rescued from tree |

Momma cat rescued from tree

Christina Proctor

Anabelle was enduring her third hard thunderstorm with no shelter and she was scared.

The tree branches offered no real protection from the pelting rain and her stomach was empty. The hunger pressed at her but not enough to force her to climb down 95 feet from her precarious perch.

“Wednesday of last week when I was out walking my dog I noticed a man and his wife looking up this tree. They pointed up to this cat and said she’d been there since Sunday,” said Patricia Burintrud. “You could see these flashing green eyes. The cat was five feet from the top.”

Burintrud explained that the owner of cat and her neighbor, Vickey Ohm, had called different agencies for help with no avail. Ohm couldn’t pay for help so she didn’t try any private businesses.

“I didn’t know whether it would be $50 or $300,” Ohm explained. Burintrud, an animal lover and pet owner, decided to make some calls herself.

“I realized that cat had been through at least three hard rains so I had to try. Plus, she is the mother of six kittens,” Burintrud said.

The South Lake Tahoe Fire Department no longer responds to pet rescues for several reasons and, although sympathetic, they have to look at the bigger picture, officials said.

“The number of calls we respond to has dramatically changed since the founding of the city when we responded to maybe 300 to 400 calls per year,” said Capt. Scott Douglass. “Now we respond to around 1,700 calls a year.”

Douglass said pet rescues could tie up personnel needed for calls that might mean life and death for a human.

“We receive calls to rescue all kinds of pets from iguanas to parrots,” Douglass said. “We have to say ‘no’ to all of them.”

Burintrud was understanding of the fire department’s reasons and they suggested she call a tree service.

“They were very sympathetic. They listened to what I had to say and agreed to come out,” Burintrud said.

Joe Benigno agreed even though it was dark, raining and after hours.

But, after crying her unhappiness to the world for more than five days the tabby cat wasn’t sure she was happy to see her rescuer.

As Benigno ascended to the top of the tree, in a lighting storm, Anabelle decided to jump even higher. When finally caught, Anabelle showed her appreciation by giving Benigno some scratches to remember her by.

“You can’t drop a person’s cat out of a tree so you just kind of hang on and lick your wounds later,” Benigno said. “I love animals, and if it was the other way around and it was my cat or my daughter’s pet I’d hope someone would help. What goes around comes around. You don’t hear of many cats falling off of roofs or out of trees and getting hurt very often. They usually come down eventually when they get hungry enough, but the pet owner isn’t usually ready to wait that long. And this cat also had six little ones to feed.”

It was Benigno’s second cat rescue in the three years since he moved his business to Tahoe from the San Joaquin Valley. He did the job free of charge.

Ohm said Anabelle wasn’t quite herself for a few days after her ordeal, but now she’s back to playing around.

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