I have a confession to make: sometimes, when I get a call for a rescue, I am not happy about it. Sometimes, I have other things I want to do, and, sometimes, I am just tired and don't want to be bothered with it. When Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) called to tell me that someone reported an unknown cat in a tree in a busy commercial part of town, I didn't want to deal with it. My heart was not in it at that moment, but I knew that every time I felt that way in the past, in the end, I was always very happy that I did it and ashamed of my reluctance. This was one of those times.
There wasn't much information in the report. The caller never actually saw a cat. All I knew was that someone heard a cat crying across the street from the entrance to a particular restaurant, and they thought it might be in a tree. The cat was unknown, but CAA told me that, if I find and get the cat, I could bring it to them.
I grumbled as I got ready and drove over there, but, as soon as I got out of my truck and heard the kitten crying pitifully, my heart immediately melted, and there was no other place in the world I would have rather been than there at that moment. The kitten was easy to find. All I had to do was follow the sound of his cries to one of the many small trees that lined the vacant parking lot of a business that is no longer in operation. As I walked up to the tree, I spotted him easily as he looked down at me pleading for help. He was barely 10 feet high, and it seemed like he could have easily climbed down on his own, but he was scared and had enough sense to stay there where he was safer. A four-lane road through a busy commercial part of town was nearby, and the other directions offered no safety for him either. He was smart to just stay there and cry until someone heard him and helped. I felt a little silly putting on my climbing gear to reach a cat only 10 feet high, but it was necessary. As I climbed up to him, he continued to cry for my help, and he made friends with me right away. In fact, he was so happy to see me, that he came to me and stepped onto my lap to make sure I did not get away without him. I wanted to put him in a bag to make it easier to scan him for a microchip without worrying about him getting away from me, so, rather than grab him by the scruff and pull the bag over him, I simply slipped the bag under him and pulled it up over him. It was simpler in my imagination than it was in reality, but it still worked after I untangled his claws from the bag. I brought him down to the ground and scanned him for a microchip. To my pleasant surprise, he had one. I called the microchip company, and they contacted the owner right away and then connected me with her. The owner's name is Rochon, and to say she was excited and relieved to hear that her kitten was found and safe is a massive understatement. In a very excited, high-pitched voice, she expressed her joy and relief and told me she had just made some "Lost Cat" flyers to distribute, but was thrilled to put that aside and drive over there to me right away. While I waited for her, I transferred the kitten to a carrier and fed him a can of food which he heartily ate. A few minutes later, I met Rochon in person and handed the kitten to her. So began a long visit in that vacant parking lot where I learned the rest of the story. Rochon drives an escort vehicle to accompany trucks carrying oversize loads to various locations. Since she often makes long trips out of state and is also an animal lover, she also volunteers to transport homeless dogs or cats to new homes in those locations at the same time. The day before, she was just arriving back in Baton Rouge after an out-of-state escort trip and was transporting a dog to a new home as well. With her in her car were the transport dog, Cooper, her own dog, NolaBelle, and her own cat, Barnaby.
As Rochon was driving into Baton Rouge, she witnessed a hit-and-run accident ahead of her involving other vehicles. She is not one to stand idly by as someone runs away from a responsibility, so she followed the car that caused the accident so she could report them. She followed them into the parking lot of an auto parts store and stopped behind them. The women in the car got out and came to her door to speak. Rochon cracked open her door to talk to them when Cooper, the transport dog, darted out the door. Instantly, Rochon started running behind him and followed him to a self-storage business where he was cornered and caught. With a huge sigh of relief, she walked him back to her car. But her car was gone.
Rochon was stunned. She had Cooper, but now her car was gone. Her car had been stolen with NolaBelle and Barnaby inside. She later learned that her car was stolen by a man and woman in a third car that was already in the parking lot when she arrived. They saw her run after Cooper and took advantage of the opportunity.
Fortunately, some people there had NolaBelle and asked Rochon if he was her dog. The car thieves had dumped NolaBelle out of the car right away, so she recovered NolaBelle quickly. Barnaby, however, was gone -- riding at the whims of a car thief to places unknown.
Rochon was happy that she had both Cooper and NolaBelle, but was worried sick about Barnaby. She imagined all kinds of horrible outcomes for him from being killed, abused, or dumped in some forsaken place where no one ever finds him. It is hard enough to search for a missing cat when you know where it escaped, but where do you begin searching for cat in a car that has been stolen? She was distraught and found it annoying and difficult to focus on filing the police reports for both the stolen car and the hit-and-run accident. That night was long and agonizing, and the next day she made some "Lost Cat" flyers.
Then I called her with the good news.
All is well now. Rochon's car was found a few days later and returned to her in decent shape. One of the thieves was found and jailed, while the other one is still at large. The driver of the car in the hit-and-run accident was also found and charged. Most importantly, Barnaby is safely back at home where he can relax on top of his buddy, NolaBelle.