PERU – A Peruvian police officer and one concerned citizen teamed up to help rescue a kitten Tuesday that nearly drowned in the Wabash River after plummeting more than 30 feet from a bridge.
Officer Keith Smith explained that he was on patrol crossing the Broadway Bridge at around 12:30 a.m. when two women waved him down. Smith immediately stopped and asked the women if they needed help, and they informed him a kitten was stuck between the edge of the bridge and a metal guardrail pillar.
Smith stated he heard the kitten meowing and whining as he slowly approached the bridge’s edge to see what was going on.
“It sounded like she was hurt or scared,” he noted.
By carefully reaching down between the bridge and pillar, Smith was successfully able to safely rescue the animal. He said he took the kitten back to his patrol car and sat it down to see why it was crying. A moment later, the cat bolted back toward the bridge to the 2-inch ledge right where it had just been stuck.
“I’m an animal lover, so I was freaking out,” Smith stated. “The women there were freaking out, too.”
Once again, Smith slowly went ahead and approached the kitten. However, as he reached down to rescue it, the cat turned around to face him, causing its back legs to slip off the ledge. Smith said that the kitten dug its claws into the concrete to stop from falling, but it couldn’t hang on and plummeted more than 30 feet into the water below.
“It was like slow motion watching her fall,” he stated. “It was the saddest thing ever watching her splashing into the river.”
Smith then decided to shine his flashlight into the darkness below, but couldn’t see the kitten anywhere.
“We were thinking the worst,” he stated. “That she’d drowned or given up. We thought that was going to be the end of it, sad as that was.”
Smith was still searching for the kitten from the bridge when a man by the name of Alex Wise rode by on his bike and asked what was going on.
Smith explained to him that he was searching for a cat, and Wise immediately volunteered to shimmy down to the river bank to the water to try and locate the animal.
While he did that, Smith continued to look for the kitten with his flashlight.
Then, suddenly, he spotted the petrified kitty frantically trying to swim upstream. The kitten seemed to respond to the beam of light, so he moved it more towards Wise. Sure enough, the cat swam toward the moving light.
“I’ve got a cat, and my cat goes crazy with a laser pointer,” Smith stated. “I think it was the same kind of response from the kitten.”
Slowly but surely, the cat made its way toward the bank, closer and closer to Wise. When the kitten was near enough, he reached out and grabbed the waterlogged animal, which was shaking from the cold.
“For a minute there, we didn’t think she was going to make it,” Smith stated. “She was shivering so bad and her eyes went blank.”
Wise took off the bandana he happened to be wearing around his head and wrapped the kitten in it. After a minute pr two of warming it up, the cat was revived and began meowing again.
Smith then placed the kitten in his squad car near the heat vent to keep it warm, but knew the animal needed attention. He then called dispatch to find the home address of Shelley Shircliff, the owner of a cat rescue shelter in town called the Scratching Post.
Smith immediately drove over to the place and knocked on the door. It was after 1 a.m., but Shircliff answered the door. She told him to just keep the kitten as warm as he could and to feed it wet cat food, some of which she gave to Smith to take.
After returning to the bridge, Wise explained that he wanted to take the kitten home to care for it, but he didn’t have any cat food. So Smith drove him to a gas station and bought some to give to Wise.
Smith noted that they pulled up beside some EMTs from Dukes Memorial Hospital who happened to be in the parking lot, and they also handed over some warm towels to wrap the kitten in.
After that, Wise himself took the kitten home, and has now decided to keep it as a pet. Smith said Tuesday he talked to Wise, who informed him the cat was doing great.
He explained that the whole experience shows how a few concerned, caring people can do make a difference.
“It’s nice to know people care,” he stated. “I couldn’t have done this without Alex.”
“There are different kinds of calls I feel differently about,” Smith ad,itted. “It’s definitely one of the more rewarding calls when you get to save a kitten. Saving any life is just a great feeling.”