Victoria firefighters are always on standby to put out fires, but they also step in to rescue civilians and sometimes that service extends to the city’s furry residents – a little kitten named Willow can attest to that.
After a trip to the vet for a checkup, Willow is recovering just fine. Willow’s owner provided this photo of the kitten resting by the fireplace and noted: "There aren’t adequate words to describe how grateful I am to the Victoria Fire Department for saving Willow." (2/3) pic.twitter.com/pD3NV9wpTl— City of Victoria (@CityOfVictoria) January 16, 2021
On Tuesday (Jan. 12), Willow was rescued by three heroic firefighters from a narrow pipe in her owner’s basement.
Just after 6 a.m. that morning, the Victoria Fire Department received a call from Emma Hutchinson who explained that her kitten had found her way into a basement drain and was stuck two metres down the pipe.
Little Willow went missing at some point in the night and when Hutchinson woke up, the kitten was nowhere to be found. She searched for Willow in all her usual hiding places – under the stove and in the couch – before grabbing her plumbing camera to check the pipe in her basement. After stringing the camera down the pipe, she focused the lens on what turned out to be Willow’s furry behind wedged in tight and the kitten wasn’t moving.
“I had no idea how long she was down there,” Hutchinson said, adding that she was “horrified and petrified.”
She thought the kitten’s chances were slim but didn’t want to give up so she tried calling a plumber. No one was answering early in the morning, so she contacted the fire department.
Firefighters Buchanan Elliott and Stephen Ellis and acting Capt. Tim Hanley rushed to the 500-block of Toronto Street for what they said was a very rare rescue. When they arrived, Willow wasn’t making any noises but Elliott felt her move when the camera touched her so they knew she was alive.
The firefighters opted to break through the concrete floor to access the pipe and get Willow out. Luckily, Hutchinson collects tools so she was able to provide the team with a large jack-hammer and eye protection. It took about an hour to break through the concrete and then they had to dig through the soil to expose the pipe.
Willow was sitting in about an inch and a half of water, but when the firefighters got closer to her she started meowing so they knew she was alive. They cut through the pipe in two locations – giving Willow a bit of a haircut in the process – and were able to tip it right-side-up to slide the kitten out.
Willow must’ve used about five of her nine lives that day, Elliott joked, adding that the kitten was “easygoing” and happy to be out of the pipe.
After her stressful experience, Willow was taken to the vet to be treated for hypothermia, dehydration and an abrasion on her leg. Despite it all, Hutchinson said Willow was “very vocal and very alert,” and was running around again within a day.
“These guys were amazing,” she said gesturing to the firefighters. “It felt like a bit of a miracle. There are no words to describe how grateful I am.”
Battalion Chief Doug Carey noted how proud he was of the team for their quick action and creative problem-solving. He added that the whole crew was texting for updates on how Willow was doing.
Hutchinson’s basement may be a mess now, but she doesn’t care. She hopes other pet owners will take this as a warning.
“Tighten the caps on your pipes around small animals” because even though she presumed the pipe was far too small for Willow, the kitten found a way in.