St. Paul firefighters save cat from tree

Published 10:21 am Thursday, January 14, 2016

By Mara H. Gottfried

St. Paul Pioneer Press

When a little girl’s cat became trapped in a tall tree in St. Paul for days in the frigid cold, strangers worked together to help save the pet.

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Lisa Andrews heard about Foxy’s plight on a neighborhood Facebook page and stepped into action. She didn’t know the family involved, but she loves cats (she has four of her own) and could imagine how heartbroken her 12-year-old daughter would be in that situation. She also wanted to help a fellow East Sider.

After Foxy’s family couldn’t find assistance anywhere else, Andrews went to Fire Station 7, rang the buzzer and asked the firefighters if they could bring their ladder truck.

Although firefighters rescuing cats from trees is a cliche of their profession, the St. Paul Fire Department usually doesn’t respond to such calls, said Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard, who hadn’t heard of a similar instance in his 31 years on the St. Paul department. But Zaccard added: “It was a very, very cold day, so there were definitely circumstances warranting the help.”

The 8-month-old cat was toward the top of a spruce tree that Andrews estimated was at least 70 feet tall. Firefighter Pat Larson climbed his truck’s ladder and, as he nearly reached Foxy, the cat jumped onto his shoulders.

“It was like she was saying, ‘Oh, my God, thank you,’ “ Andrews said. The cat rode on Larson’s shoulders down the ladder and, other than being very cold and hungry, was uninjured.

The rescue of Foxy on Saturday is the story of a community coming together to save what mattered to a family, after they ran into a number of frustrating dead ends.

“We just can’t believe there were people who cared so much,” said Brittany Guinn. Foxy belongs to her 10-year-old daughter, ZaCiyah. “It shows the kids it’s not just about the cat, it’s about the community.”

Foxy had apparently darted out of Guinn’s home when someone opened a door last Thursday night, climbed the neighbor’s tree and couldn’t get down, Guinn said.

“I think she was scared and she kept climbing up and up and up,” she said.

Guinn is nearly nine months pregnant, but if she were not, “I probably would have been trying to get that cat down myself somehow, but there was nothing I could do,” she said. “I was helpless.”

People had suggested putting out food for Foxy, saying she would come out of the tree when she was hungry, but that had not worked and the temperature was falling, heading below zero. After two days in the tree, they didn’t think the cat would survive another night.

Another stranger had tried to help — a man from a neighborhood Facebook group had brought a 30-foot ladder, but it wasn’t tall enough. Guinn had an animal control officer come out and they contacted at least 10 tree trimmers, though none could help. They also had called to ask if a police officer or a firefighter could come out, and were told they could not, Guinn said.

Andrews is a lifelong East Sider who moved to Elk River, Minn., last summer to be closer to her work, and she had contacted Guinn about Foxy after seeing a neighborhood Facebook post. She went to Guinn’s East Minnehaha Avenue home, not far from East Seventh Street, on Saturday.