A firefighter is a cat’s best friend.
Okotoks firefighter Tim Houghton found himself going beyond the call of duty when he had to use the department’s 35-foot-ladder extension off a firetruck to rescue Turnip, a three-year-old cat who had climbed too far up a tree on July 13 near the Sheep River.
“I was at the right place at the right time — I was the one operating the ladder truck,” Houghton said. “The cat was a little bit higher than we expected. We threw up a 35-foot ladder and I was able to grab the cat.”
Turnip didn’t come easily.
“It took a little bit of coaxing, but we were able to get him,” Houghton said. “We had to push him along a little bit with a branch. He was a little bit scared, but we got him.”
Turnip had climbed up a tree on the west side of the Northridge/Southridge Drive bridge near Hunters Crescent.
Turnip’s owner, Meagan Loewen, said she had let her out the day before.
“She didn’t come home for a full 24 hours, which is super weird for her,” Loewen said. “At about 8:30 (a.m.) I went for a walk with my dog, and she (Turnip) started howling at us.
“We found her in the trees, and a couple ladies told me to call the fire department.”
She was overwhelmed by the firefighters' support.
“It was just the nicest thing for them to do,” Loewen said. “I was apologizing the whole time.
“Turnip was really high up. I had run back to the house to get some treats (to coax Turnip) and by the time I came back they were walking up the hill with Turnip.
“It was so cute, this big guy with a little kitty.”
Loewen said she is trying to keep the cat indoors now.
It wasn’t the first time Houghton or members of the fire department have helped to make sure curiosity doesn’t actually kill the cat.
“I have gotten a couple of cats out of trees before,” Houghton said. “I have gotten cats out of a wall before, out of a duct before, kittens under a deck, it definitely happens.”
The firefighters have also helped to recover puppies, ducks out of storm drains and others in the past.
“Firefighters have always been a part of the community,” Houghton said. “I know it’s a bit of an urban legend firefighters getting a cat out of the tree.
“If we have time, we are not on an emergency, we love to help out,” Houghton said. “The community supports us so much, it’s good to give back too.
“I am sure every firefighter has a story they can tell.”
Firefighter Ryan Kaiser recalls his father, former chief Paul Kaiser, trying to retrieve a peacock.
“He was flying around, terrorizing the town,” Ryan said. “Ultimately, it was caught by a couple of members who were able to get a jacket on it and get it corralled.”