SCHENECTADY – A Fire Department spokesman credited a private tree service company for helping rescue a cat Monday that had been stranded high up a tree for at least a week.
Meanwhile, Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno spoke of his concern about the danger of a prior effort by another man who climbed the tree to go after the cat Sunday – but got caught upwards of 60 feet up when he lost his rope.
The young, shorthair cat named Bae had been missing since May 16 and was discovered about 100 feet up a tree in Central Park on May 24.
A local following of residents, including animal law instructor Valerie Lang Waldin, looked after the cat while it was stuck in the tree.
Sunday morning, the Fire Department got a call for a man in the tree in Central Park. The man, who had spikes on his shoes, was about 60 or 70 feet up in the tree. He had lost the rope he used to climb it, Mareno said.
The Fire Department did not have ground ladders that could reach the endangered man, so, against department policy, it took a bucket truck off the road.
The situation was a hazard for the heavy truck, which has outriggers, because it could have gotten stuck in the ground that was soggy from rain.
Firefighters rescued the man with the bucket truck after about a 40 minute effort.
Firefighters then drew their attention to the cat that was now 80 to 100 feet high on a flimsy part of the tree. But firefighters were unable to get to it. The bucket is not designed to navigate between branches. It suspended the effort, Mareno said.
Throughout the day, the deputy fire chief went to the park a few times to see if the cat had descended further down the tree, making it an easier attempt for the department. But the cat did not come down, Mareno said.
The next day, Mark Moeske of Allmark Tree and Crane Service offered to try to get the cat.
Mareno said Moeske possessed the proper equipment and had a plan.
The Fire Department cordoned the area, in case something went wrong with Moeske’s equipment or fallen branches.
A team of medics were also there in case of a fall.
Moeske wasn’t able to get to the cat. But the cat began to come down on its own. The cat fell at about the 30 foot mark, where there weren’t any more branches to descend, Mareno said.
The cat, through the Humane Society, was provided veterinary care and eventually reunited with its owner.
Mareno credited Moeske for doing “a wonderful job” in pursuit of the pet.
On the other hand, Mareno said the agency doesn’t advise efforts like that of the man who lost his rope.
It’s too dangerous, he said.
“We will never advise anyone to take it upon themselves – especially if they’re not trained, especially if they don’t have the equipment, especially if they don’t have a plan to carry it out,” Mareno said.
The assistant chief acknowledged the department went against its policies. It does not typically assist with cats stuck in trees, nor is it supposed to take its bucket truck off the road.
“But we do, depending on the situation, and if we could have got that cat Sunday morning with our bucket we would have.”
The cat is in good health, according to Waldin. On her Facebook page, she thanked the New York State Humane Association and Diane Metz of Orange Street Cats for offering to cover expenses.