A cat named Pickles missing for more than two years is reunited with its owners after firefighters, together with a concerned family, rescued it from the engine of a car parked in Central Saanich on Saturday.
Capt. Dan Little with Central Saanich Fire says crews were called to the McDonald’s parking lot on Mount Newton Cross around 2:20 p.m. to find the orange tabby cat trapped in the car’s engine compartment.
“It came in as a public assist call and when we first arrived on scene, our shift officer found a young family there, a mom and dad and a little girl, who had parked next to the vehicle,” Little told CHEK News.
“I guess they had gone into McDonald’s for a bite and when they came out, the little girl could hear a cat crying.”
According to Little, the family then determined the meowing was coming from the car beside theirs, prompting them to crouch down and spot the feline’s tail hanging from the engine.
“The little girl, of course, was quite concerned, and the family checked around the restaurant and the surrounding area to see if they could find out who owned the car, but they couldn’t find anyone to lay a claim to it and decided to give us a call,” Little said.
He says Capt. Jered Blaikie was first to arrive and heard the cat “sounding like it was in some distress,” but because the car’s owner had locked their doors, fire crews couldn’t do anything about it without having police on scene.
“Our captain contacted police and had them attend, and they ran the plate and discovered who the owner was,” Little said.
“They subsequently got in touch with the owner of the vehicle by phone, and that person was actually away on the Mainland but did inform the officer that they did not own a cat. So, it wasn’t their cat.”
Crews then used an air pump-style tool to unlock the car and open the hood, which is “what the tow truck drivers use,” Little explains.
“We use an air pump and we pump up a small airbag, and we pump the door open a little bit. Then we have a rod that we stick in and unlock the car by the door,” he said. “It does no damage to the car and we can lock it back up afterwards.”
While unsure of how long the cat was trapped, crews did find he was “pretty dirty” and “marked up black from the dirty engine and the oil and grease,” according to Little.
“He wasn’t injured at all, there were no injuries on him that we could see anyways. No bleeding, no cuts,” he recalled. “He definitely had himself stuck in there and he wanted out.”
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Once crews rescued the cat, Little says the family that called the fire department took it upon themselves to bring it to the CRD Animal Shelter on the Pat Bay Highway.
In a subsequent Facebook post, which proved successful, the shelter thanked the family and pleaded for public assistance in locating its owners.
“Owners Found!” the shelter said in a follow-up post.
“This fellow’s name is Pickles and has been missing for over two years. We cannot stress the importance of permanent identification for cats. Please consider having your cats chipped.”
Little’s colleagues were “quite surprised” to learn the cat was missing for as long as it was, following a call that was a first for the fire department.
“We’ve done lots of animal rescues, we’ve rescued horses from ditches and from wells and rescued dogs off of cliffs,” he said. “But I do know there are plenty of animals that climb up into the hood compartments of cars in the winter just to get the heat from engines.”
Little is encouraging drivers to inspect their vehicles’ engines before hitting the road, saying animals like cats and raccoons often climb in and use it as a refuge of warmth overnight.
“Nothing hurts to take a quick check in the morning and just make sure nothing is hiding up on top of there,” he added.