Freeing Willy — wayward kitten rescued in Southold

Willy. (Credit: Carrie Miller)
Willy, a 10-week-old kitten, was rescued from a water pipe in Southold Tuesday. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

It was an awfully long night for Willy, the newest kitten up for adoption at North Fork Animal Welfare League’s shelter in Southold.

The 10-week-old kitten was discovered Monday trapped in a 20-foot-long stormwater pipe buried about three feet below the ground after falling into a hole near the back of 7-Eleven in Southold.

On Tuesday morning, nearly 16 hours later, volunteers from NFAWL, Coastline Cesspool & Drain Service and North Fork Sanitation, both of Cutchogue, successfully rescued the buff-red kitten.

Gillian Wood, 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 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.”

Rizwan Haq, a 7-Eleven employee, found Willy around 6:30 p.m. Monday while throwing trash into the 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 was sure when he had become trapped.

Ms. Wood 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, director of the Southold Town Department of Public Works, met volunteers and workers on the scene. Due to an impending rainstorm, they rerouted the drainage pipes coming from the roof of the building to keep the kitten as dry as possible.

By then, night had fallen, forcing the rescue to be put on hold, Ms. Wood said.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Park returned with his workers armed with a plan. North Fork Sanitation’s Roy Schelin III also stopped by to help.

Using a wad of duct tape twisted around the cabled camera, they threaded the camera through the pipe, essentially forcing the kitten to run out the opposite end.

By about 10:30 a.m. the kitten popped his head out of the pipe, his lower half and tail covered in mud.

Willy, named after the man who rescued him, was then taken to NFAWL’s shelter in Southold, where he is being prepped for adoption.

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