By Adam Foxman
PORT HUENEME, Calif. — For days, June Welch scoured her Port Hueneme neighborhood in search of her cat, Klansey, never imagining that all the while he was sealed inside a walkway just feet from her front door.
Klansey was trapped inside the second-story walkway near Welch’s condo on Surfside Drive about a week ago when construction workers doing repairs stuccoed over a hole, apparently unaware that the cat had wandered inside, she said.
The orange and white tabby remained stuck inside the walkway until firefighters used a thermal-imaging camera to find him just after midnight Sunday, then broke through the stucco to free him, authorities said.
Klansey’s saga began Oct. 10 when Welch returned from walking her dog and found the 7-year-old tabby missing.
Primarily a house cat, he had escaped several other times since she got him as a kitten, but he’d always returned before sunrise, she said.
When he didn’t return, Welch said she began worrying that something had happened to him.
She put up posters asking for help in finding the cat.
Several people told Welch that they’d seen Klansey, but she still hadn’t found him late Sunday when she heard a high-pitched meow as she returned from walking the dog, said Welch.
With help from neighbors, Welch searched the complex until she heard the tinkling sound of his collar coming through a drainpipe, she said. After narrowing the search to the walkway, Welch called the Port Hueneme Police Department for help. They later contacted the Fire Department.
When firefighters responded, they heard the cat’s cries and located him inside the walkway with the help of a thermal-imaging camera, said Capt. Tom Law of the Ventura County Fire Department. The camera, which shows heat signatures of bodies, is normally used for things like finding people in smoke-filled rooms.
Firefighters broke through the underside of the walkway and Welch coaxed him out of the small floor space using pieces of turkey, she said.
Welch said that finding Klansey was an answer to her prayers.
“The firefighters were so good,” she said. “It was just amazing.”
When Welch took Klansey to Port Hueneme Animal Hospital on Monday, veterinarian Marilynn Studnicka said she was surprised by how healthy the tabby was.
Except for some weight loss, the roughly 10-pound cat was doing great, Studnicka said.
“He wasn’t as dehydrated as I expected,” she said. “I’m amazed that he looked so good.”
Local firefighters rescue animals several times a year when they’re not busy handling emergencies, Law said.
“If we’re not busy with something else, we can certainly help that taxpayer out,” he said. “And we’re really glad to do it.”
Source: The Ventura County Star