One of the four kittens rescued from piping outside of the Food City grocery store in Piney Flats Friday. (Jennifer Sprouse/Johnson City Press)
Fast action by a local grocery store’s employees and a call to Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control saved the lives of four kittens that were found stuck in piping Friday afternoon.
“My associates gave me a call this morning prior to me coming in and let me know that there ... were some cats stuck in the pipes here, asking what we should do about it,” Jason Hendrickson, store manager at the Food City in Piney Flats, said. “I encouraged them to call ... the authorities, call the shelter and animal rescue and just see what we could do. There were a total of four that we rescued. My associates were able to get three (kittens out) prior to animal control getting there.”
Hendrickson said six of his employees worked to free the kittens by tying rocks to a netting laundry bag with rope and lowering it down to where the kittens could latch on.
The fourth kitten was a bit harder to free, according to animal control officer Andrew Barnett.
“We had trouble getting the other one, the fourth one, out,” Barnett said. “We had to take some time to figure out how to get (the kitten) out of there. We ended up using sewer drain tape ... with a sponge on the end of it. There were four rescued. There’s possibly one more deceased in there. We’re not sure exactly what the other one may be. It may be a kitten, we’re not sure.”
He said the kittens were victims of animal cruelty and said he thinks they had been stuck in the piping at least overnight.
“Somebody actually had to put them in there as high as the pipes are. There’s no way that the cats could be playing around and actually fall in,” he said.
During the rescue, one of the kittens ran away once it was freed and Barnett said they’ve set a trap to lure the kitten.
He said two of the kittens had already been taken to the shelter and the fourth one to be rescued had already found a home to call his own with Food City employee John Peters.
Hendrickson said he was impressed by the action taken by his employees.
“I’m blessed with a very good team here at the store and ... they care about a lot of things. They care about taking care of customers, of course, but they also care about taking care of animals when the needs comes. We’ve had people drop animals off ... before in the past and we always take them to a shelter or a veterinarian or somebody. In this case, we had to have a rescue. I’m very proud of the team. It was the right thing to do and (I’m) proud of my guys.”