It was an awful long night for Willy, the newest kitten up for adoption at the North Fork Animal Welfare League’s shelter in Southold.
The 10-week-old kitten became trapped in a 20-foot long storm-water pipe buried about three feet below the ground after falling in a hole near the back of 7-Eleven in Southold.
Nearly 16 hours after he was discovered, volunteers from the NFAWL and Coastline Cesspool & Drain Service of Cutchogue successfully rescued the buff-red kitten Tuesday morning.
Gillian Wood-Pultz, the director of the animal league, said it was one of the more unique rescues she’s been a part of.
“It was really a community effort. There were a ton of people concerned,” Ms. Wood-Pultz said. “But Will [Park] and the guys from Coastline [Cesspool] really were the heroes in this. They went totally out of their way to get that cat out.”
A 7-Eleven worker, Rizwan Haq, discovered Willy around 6:30 p.m. Monday as he threw trash into bins on the side of the building.
“I heard meow, meow,” said Mr. Haq, who has a cat of his own. “I went inside to tell another [employee] and we called the police for help.”
One of the convenience store’s nighttime employees, Jeremy Geraci, told rescuers he had seen the kitten about two days prior, running around the back of the building, though no one could be sure when he had become trapped.
Ms. Wood-Pultz said she soon received a call from police, and the rescue effort was underway.
She said she called Will Park of Coastline Cesspool, who brought a crew of men — and a camera built for viewing the inside of the pipe — which helped NFAWL members monitor the kitten while he was stuck underground.
Jeff Standish, the director of the Southold Town Department of Public Works, met volunteers and workers on scene, helping to reroute drainage pipes coming from the roof of the building, to keep the kitten as dry as possible with a rainstorm on the way.
By then, night had fallen, forcing the rescue to be put on hold, Ms. Wood-Pultz said.
Tuesday morning, Mr. Park returned with his workers, Roy Schelin III and Ricky Horton, who came armed with plan.
Using a wad of duct tape, which was twisted around the camera, they threaded it through the pipe, essentially forcing the kitten to run out the opposite end.
By about 10:30 a.m. Willy — who was named after one of his rescuers — popped his head out of the pipe, his lower half and tail covered in mud.
Willy is now at NFAWL’s Southold Shelter, where he being prepped for a bath and a meal.
See more photos of the rescue: