By Mike Wilson
While not an official calendar designation, Columbus (IN) Fire Department (CFD) firefighters were considering designating last week as “CFD Animal Rescue Week” after two unique animal rescue calls.
The first animal rescue occurred Monday, March 23, 2021 just after 8:00 p.m. on the city’s west side after a resident in the Tipton Lakes neighborhood discovered a beaver that had appeared to have fallen into a lake spillway drain. When firefighters arrived in the area of Heron Dr. and Goeller Rd., they found what they described as a juvenile beaver moving about the dry drain structure. As firefighters assessed the beaver’s condition, they concluded that the beaver did not appear to be injured or in any distress. The problem was that the beaver had managed to enter the drain, which was approximately six feet high, and would have only been able to self-rescue at a time when the water level within the drain would have risen to a point that would have allowed the animal to access the top of the drain. Firefighters entered the drain with a small box and managed to safely remove the beaver, who then waddled away, no worse for wear. The rescue took approximately 15 minutes.
The second rescue occurred Tuesday March 23, 2021 at approximately 8:25 a.m. Firefighters were called to Central Middle School, 725 Seventh Street, after school officials noticed a cat clinging to lattice approximately two feet from the top of the schools roof. Firefighters estimated that the cat was approximately 40 feet above the ground after it had appeared to have climbed up the lattice on the exterior wall of the school. Identifying that the cat was close to the building’s roof, firefighters made access to the roof and were able to view the cat from above. The cat appeared uninjured and was clinging tightly to the vine covered lattice. Firefighters devised a plan for rescue which included fall protection for the cat. Crews at the ground level used a large salvage tarp directly below the location of the cat. The tarp would be used in the event that the cat would happen to fall during the rescue attempt. Once the tarp was secured, Columbus firefighters and a Columbus police department school resource officer, using fall protection belts for their own safety, donned gloves and prepared to grab the cat. A single successful grab and the very anxious cat was successfully in the hands of Columbus firefighters. Firefighters carried the cat to the ground floor where it was safely release. The rescue of the cat took approximately 19 minutes.
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The Columbus Fire Department is no stranger to unique animal rescues. In January of 2019, firefighters successfully rescued a deer that was stuck on the ice in the Tipton Lakes area. Later that same year firefighters rescued a cat that had crawled into the wall of the Econo Lodge Suites. In 2020, firefighters rescued a baby raccoon from a storm drain located on the city’s north side.
With the use of the departments ice rescue protective equipment, which is used for both human and pet rescues since being purchased by the city in 2012, Columbus firefighters have responded to numerous ice water rescue and surface ice rescue calls for pets located on the ice.
Mike Wilson is a captain with the City of Columbus (IN) Fire Department.