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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 1 month ago

Winter Park kitten named 'Tiller' after fire truck that came to its rescue

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The little black kitten was rescued by Winter Park firefighters after it got trapped underneath a bathroom vanity.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Instead, it resulted in a new name for a 5-week-old, frisky feline.

Winter Park firefighters Joe Celletti, Kevin Dixon, Brad Grainger and Kevin Powers came to the rescue of a cute black kitten on Thursday, Aug. 9, after it got stuck underneath a vanity in a bathroom.

The timing of the incident was surprising to say the least for Winter Park homeowner Meg Pietkiewicz. Her husband had just brought the cat home earlier that day at about 1 p.m., while she was out of the house.

Joe Celletti, Kevin Dixon, Brad Grainger and Kevin Powers of the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department rescued little Tiller after he got trapped in a vanity on Aug. 9.

Pietkiewicz came home at 3:30 p.m. and went to check on the cat — left in one of the bathrooms of her house.

“My friend Gwen was here, and we’re like, ’Where’s the cat?’” Pietkiewicz said. 

A little investigation of the bathroom revealed there was a hole about the diameter of a soda can just above the kick plate of the bathroom vanity. Pietkiewicz thought the worst.

“‘He’s in the walls of the house’ — that was my first reaction,” she said. “We’re putting up glasses against the wall and couldn’t hear anything. … I said, ‘What am I going to do?’”

After leaving out cat food and calling out to the kitten with no success, Pietkiewicz called the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department. Firefighters arrived at the scene and immediately got to work, feeding a search camera through the hole. The camera revealed some paw-sitive news: The black kitten was just behind the kick plate, though hiding all the way back against the wall.

“We saw it blink its eye, so we knew that it was alive,” Lt. Paramedic Brad Grainger said.

The firefighters carefully removed the kick plate from the bottom of the vanity and coaxed the kitten out with one of its favorite toys: a plastic jingling ball with a blue feather attached.

“The minute they said, ‘He’s alive,’ I started bawling,” Pietkiewicz said. “I got myself back together, and then I called (my husband) Jim and said, ‘He’s alive! He’s alive!’”

Grainger said the department gets about a dozen or so calls each year regarding trapped animals. Just earlier this year, another crew was called to rescue multiple baby ducks that were washed into a storm drain and separated from their mother. In most cases, animal control would be sent to rescue an animal, but in unique cases like the one on Aug. 9 in which the animal is stuck in a closed space, firefighters come out with their gear to help.

“In situations like this — with the kitten that was in the void space — it probably wouldn’t have come out on its own without assistance,” Grainger said. “We wanted to take a look and try to help the situation.”

Pietkiewicz had never even seen the black kitten her husband had brought home until firefighters were rescuing it from her vanity. In that moment, she met her new kitten for the first time and realized it still didn’t have a name.

“After we had removed the kitten, the homeowner had mentioned that she hadn’t had a name picked out yet,” Grainger said. “She said she wanted to name it in honor of the guys that came out to help the cat. I jokingly threw out the name Tiller. I said, ‘Our aerial truck we have parked in front of your house is actually called a tiller truck. You could name it Tiller.’ She went with that, and I was surprised to see that.”

“We’re happy that there was a good outcome and that we were able to located the cat quickly — that it was healthy and can enjoy its days ahead,” Grainger said.

“Once I got (Tiller), I just held onto him the rest of the night,” Pietkiewicz said.

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

See All Articles by Tim

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