When Flaik the cat ventured into a storm drain, he bit off more adventure than he could chew.
His owner, Wendy Olivier, was worried sick when he disappeared into the pipes in Boise, Idaho. She could hear him meowing, but there was no sign of him.
Olivier did what many in her shoes would: Called the fire department. But they couldn’t help. So she called the police, and the water company, too, for good measure, but none of them could free Flaik.
According to KTVB, the fire department came out several times to try to help Olivier and Flaik, but they couldn’t pinpoint the cat’s location even after using cameras in the pipes and said hopefully the cat would come back out the way he went in.
The desperate owner took to social media.
“PLEASE HELP…!” she posted on a local Facebook group. “I HAVE A CAT STUCK IN A STORM DRAIN PIPE OFF KERR AND TARGEY…!! HES BEEN IN THERE 6 days NOW!!”
“PEOPLE! I NEED HELP !! HE’S GOING TO DIE !! IM SO SCARED AND SAD! I CAN HEAR HIM.”
Enter Haley Dube, a lifelong animal lover and pet groomer by trade at Bark, Bath and Beyond, LLC.
“[W]hen I was a kid, I mean, I always was bringing home stray animals, and my mom was always kicking my butt for it,” Dube said. “Currently, I’ve got way too many, and I run a grooming salon that’s home-based, so that they’re not in kennels all day. That’s all I do. Animals are better than people. I say it every day.
She saw Olivier’s heartbroken plea and reached out, offering her undaunted spirit, her love for animals and her petite build.
“I said, ‘Hey, if you need any help let me know. I’m small,'” Dube said. “So, I headed down there to where everyone was gathered.”
There was already a crowd milling about by the time Dube got there, and she immediately went into the storm drain without hesitation.
“Okay, I’m just going to do this, I’m not going to think about it anymore … I got down there. I looked at this pipe that was, you know, it was literally big enough for me to fit my shoulders through,” she recalled. “I started crawling through. I was about halfway, and I just heard this really loud, really loud, deep meow. Just kept talking to him like, ‘I’m coming bud, I’m coming!'”
“Right to my, you know, ear length, there was a pipe about this big, and there was just a little black and white cat just sitting there, and he was just looking at me, and I remember I kind of just started crying, and I was like ‘I gotcha bud!’ And I grabbed him … and he just latched onto my shoulder.
“This whole time this cat just held on, and I remember looking at the pipe like, ‘OK you’re a really big cat, how am I going to get back in there?’ … We kind of just dove in, and the whole time I just, I pulled him, I had him by the scruff, and I’d pull him and then I’d come up, and I’d just pull myself forward.”
Army crawling and bringing along the cat with her, Dube made her way back through the stinky, cramped quarters toward daylight and sweet fresh air.
Other than some urine burns on his belly, Flaik seemed to be okay, and Olivier was overjoyed to have her cat back in her arms.
“I do remember her just crying and saying, ‘Thank you so much,'” Dube said. “That was probably one of the most successful things I think I’ve ever done … It was very exhilarating!”
Dube even made sure to check on Flaik and his owner a few days later to make sure things were going well, but the memory of the rewarding rescue will stick with her forever.
“I’ll never forget the meow that he meowed when he heard me, and I’ll never forget that face,” she said.
“I just remember seeing his belly and the burns, like his skin, just … it looked like a pink pig. I mean, he was just burned from his own urine. [Wendy] sent me some updated pictures of him the last few days, and he’s looking really, really good now.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.