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In too deep: Rescuers suck distressed B.C. kitten out of abandoned well

Roto-Rooter came to the rescue after a kitten was stuck in an old well cavern
Pictured are Dan Meldrum (left), Hunter and kitten Rocky (middle) and Ashlie Meldrum (right). The Meldrum family own Roto-Rooter in Cranbrook, and helped Hunter and her mom Tara save Rocky the kitten from an old well on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Submitted file)

A few Cranbrook folks are being praised as heroes after helping to save a kitten from certain death on Tuesday (July 12).

It all began when one little girl fell in love with a kitten and wanted to bring it home.

Tara Horvath is a roofer and has been working out on a rural property near Cranbrook.

On Monday, she brought her daughter, Hunter, along to work so she could play with the other kids on the farm for the day.

“She was playing with the other kids on the farm and the family recently had kittens. She fell in love with this one kitten, so all day Hunter was after me, mom can I have a kitten? Mom, can I have a kitten?” said Horvath.

“I told her we would think about it. Later that evening she cleaned her room and we wrote up a written contract because, you know, cats are a big responsibility. She already had the kitten picked out; it’s so tiny only six weeks old or so, and the kids there had already named it Rocky.”

Horvath says that when Tuesday morning came and they arrived on site, Rocky was nowhere to be found. That is, until, they heard a faint meow coming from underneath an old outbuilding — where a small pipe leads to a decommissioned septic tank with only about one and a half or two feet of room between the ground and the building.

“We tried putting rope down there, we got a lasso, we tried a sewer snake, with no luck at all. We tried all day.”

Exasperated, Horvath knew she needed help. So she called Roto-Rooter.

Dan Meldrum and his wife Ashlie, who own the Roto-Rooter franchise in Cranbrook, had never gotten such a call before.

“We were doing a job on Tuesday when we got a phone call from our receptionist with an odd question,” Meldrum explained. “She said a kitten had fallen down a sewer line, and the lady who called saw that there were pet rescues advertised on the Roto-Rooter website. We personally don’t really advertise pet rescues per say, but I know that Roto-Rooter does perform them, mainly in the U.S.”

“I said, well, we can certainly try.”

And try they did.

Meldrum deployed specialized camera equipment to search for the kitten.

“Let’s see if she’s really in this pipe,” Meldrum said. “You could hear her, but with the camera all I could see was cobwebs in the pipe. If an animal was in there - surely they would have knocked some of the cobwebs out.”

That’s when they decided to take a look around underneath the outbuilding with the camera.

“We could all hear her meowing away, so Dan shoved the camera around and ended up finding an old well, about four or five feet deep and eight inches across,” Horvath said.

Lo and behold, at the bottom of the well, they could see Rocky’s glowing eyes with the camera.

“Without their camera, we would have never found her,” said Horvath. “We literally tried all day with this other pipe, from nine in the morning to six at night, and we weren’t even in the right place.”

READ: 5 kittens thought to be dumped at Fort Steele landfill actually born there

After they had the kitten located, the team used a makeshift rope to try and catch her.

“She kept climbing up the rope but she would get one or two feet from the top and fall back down. She was so tired,” Horvath said.

The team ended up temporarily pulling up some floorboards to better access the opening of the old well.

“Hunter was the only one that could fit down there, so she got down there with the rope but again had no luck,” said Horvath. “So, we ended up using the Shop-Vac.”

“We used it on the lowest setting, and we didn’t want to hurt her so we were really trying to get her back end and not her face. Hunter got the kitten’s leg and her back end with the vacuum, so it didn’t hurt her, and she came right up,” said Meldrum.

He says it was a really great team effort, and Horvath agrees.

“It was just really cool to be part of it, so many people were involved and we all came together for this common goal,” said Meldrum. “We love this community and always want to help in any way possible, whether helping people, or furry people.”

Horvath says Rocky is home and happy, being cared for by Hunter. They’ve even dubbed her Rocky Rooter.

“The kids on the farm said that we could change her name, but we thought it’s perfectly fitting. She had a rocky start but now she’s got a great life,” said Horvath. “It was such an amazing show of teamwork and perseverance. We were all a little emotional when we finally got her, everyone clapping and cheering. It was so rewarding.”

Pictured is Rocky the Kitten, who is now safe and sound after being rescued from an old well on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Submitted file)
Pictured is Rocky the Kitten, who is now safe and sound after being rescued from an old well on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Submitted file)

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Corey Bullock

About the Author: Corey Bullock

Corey Bullock is a multimedia journalist and writer who grew up in Burlington, Ontario.
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