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Published: Saturday, 9/14/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Facebook group rallies to save kitten stuck in Sylvania Township sewer drain

Remote-control toy used to coax cat from sewer on Central Ave.

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Stormy runs past the remote control monster truck that was used to help get him out of a storm sewer in Sylvania Township on Thursday night. Stormy runs past the remote control monster truck that was used to help get him out of a storm sewer in Sylvania Township on Thursday night.
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It took a village to save a kitten.

A Facebook village, that is.

When Rhonda Bartnik posted a plea online Thursday night seeking help to get a kitten out of a sewer drain, members of the Toledo Area Lost and Found Pets group on Facebook mobilized.

Ms. Bartnik, store manager of the Rite Aid on Central Avenue in Sylvania Township, said customers came into the store and told workers they could hear the kitten crying from the parking lot. A manhole cover to the sewer system is nearby in the sidewalk at the corner of Central and King Road.

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The kitten somehow had gotten into the storm sewer about 8 feet below ground.

“I don’t know if he fell or if someone dumped him down there,” Ms. Bartnik said.

Robyn Sigler, who read Ms. Bartnik’s post on Facebook, called her husband, Patrick, who was out shopping at Menard’s. The Maumee resident is a general contractor, and he’s been down sewer drains before.

Kory McDevitt of Toledo also saw the post.

Patrick Sigler, who helped save Stormy from a storm sewer, holds the kitten before a veterinarian appointment at the West Toledo Animal Hospital. Patrick Sigler, who helped save Stormy from a storm sewer, holds the kitten before a veterinarian appointment at the West Toledo Animal Hospital.
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“I happened to jump on Facebook at the right time,” he said. “I saw the post and decided to go out and help.”

Before posting to Facebook, Ms. Bartnik called the police and they said they had already been alerted by someone else on Wednesday and had been out to investigate, but could not get the lids off the drains. They suggested she call the township engineering department.

She called that number and found the office had closed at 4 p.m.

“I just couldn’t stand the idea of waiting overnight with that poor kitten alone and scared and crying,” she said. “And it was supposed to rain — I was afraid he might drown.”

The Sylvania Township resident also called her husband, Bob Zunk, who went to help.

Mr. Sigler popped the lids off the sewers, and he and Mr. McDevitt went down on either side of where the kitten could be heard in hopes of preventing the animal from moving farther into the sewer system.

The kitten was in the middle of a 16-inch pipe running between the two sewer entrances. The feline came close to Mr. McDevitt several times but was just out of reach. The kitten would get spooked and run back to the middle of the pipe, crying the entire time.

The rescuers brainstormed how they could get the kitten to move to one end of the pipe within reach of one of the two men. A broomstick or shovel handle was not long enough to prod the kitten forward.

Mr. Sigler came up with the idea of getting a remote control car and sending it through the pipe to force the kitten to one end of the pipe.

“Rite Aid had tiny ones, and I didn’t think they would be able to make it through the mud,” Mr. Sigler said.

“So I went up to Meijer. It had to be one that ran on batteries, not a charger, because we needed it to be able to work right away.”

A remote-controlled monster truck that Mr. Sigler purchased was sent down the pipe toward the kitten, which finally ran out of the end of it.

Mr. McDevitt grabbed the kitten, which immediately bit him, but the man did not let go.

“He was just scared,” he said. “It took forever for him to finally come out of that hole.”

The two men spent more than an hour down in the sewer.

They were joined by four other animal lovers who stayed above ground after showing up to see if they could help.

They brought supplies such as flashlights, humane traps, and cat food.

The kitten, which Ms. Bartnik named “Stormy” because of his time spent in the storm sewer, saw a veterinarian Friday and was pronounced healthy, other than being malnourished and suffering from an extreme flea infestation.

“He’s about 5 or 6 weeks old and he only weighs 1.63 pounds,” she said.

She has not decided whether she is going to keep him or look for a home for him with the help of a Toledo-area rescue group.

“He’s a little survivor,” she said. “He’s really a miracle kitty.”

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066 or @TanyaIrwin.



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