Twice now I’ve been mixed up in calls where a cat has thrown a monkey wrench into the usually well-oiled machine that is the emergency services machine.
The first time was when I was saddled with the cat of a homeless woman who tried to run me over with her car when the EMTs tried to take her to the hospital. I spent nearly two hours sitting in a parking lot with a cat on a leash making call after call to Animal Control, who wouldn’t take it because it wasn’t a dog, and our town didn’t have a certain statute in place that allowed them to deal with cats, and with rescue organizations who denied helping me because it was a pet and not a wild animal. Finally I got a friend of mine who works for a vet to babysit the cat while its owner was in the hospital.
As a bonus, I dealt with the same woman and the same cat not two weeks later. This time, the woman was being transported after a car accident, and I got the cat again. Thankfully, I’d had the foresight to leave my vet friend on speed-dial.
The second time was tonight, and completely out of the blue.
One of the other agencies in the county was out on a call for a potentially disturbed individual. Nothing too out of the ordinary with that, so I didn’t think much of it.
Almost an hour later, at nearly 4am, the phone rings. County dispatch is on the line.
“Yeah….uh…I’m hoping you can help me out. We have a dementia patient we’re trying to transport to the hospital, but we can’t, because she’s got a cat with her and we don’t know what to do with it.”
At 4am, neither the animal control officer, or any of the humane society people in the area were answering their phones. He called me because our campus has a Veterinary Technician program where the students take care of cats, dogs, and the like. He was hoping I’d be able to take the animal and let the vet program babysit it while the owner was in the hospital. Poor guy though, the program is shut during the summer since nobody’s around to take care of the animals.
I did also have a momentary panic attack, afraid that it might be the same woman that I dealt with at the old job, that somehow, she managed to find me and was coming to try to finish the job of running me down. Thankfully…different lady.
What amuses me, is that we’re a set of organizations that train for some of the worst possible situations that human beings have to offer each other. We have training programs for engaging and terminating an active shooter, taking down violent suspects, emergency medical procedures, car chases, gun calls, drug deals, you name it, we get the training for it…but at 4am, when we need someone to take custody of a cat? There’s nothing in the playbook for that one.
Eventually they were able to find a place for the cat to go in another town, and the woman was safely transported for evaluation and treatment.