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Molly the Cat – stuck in a historical West Village Building / by Josh Schermer:
On Saturday April 1st, 2006, Molly, the store cat of Myer’s of Keswick ran into a small space inbetween two buildings, to escape a dog. She would be heard but not seen again for two weeks! This is the story of her rescue, the people involved and the powerful symbol this event epitomized.
Molly the cats rescue would wind up on the front covers of newspapers in Germany, Japan, India and all over the U.S.. The mob of reporters and onlookers along our work site grew every day the cat was still not found. But in the beggining there was just a voice, and it was Molly’s. Molly was not seen after running into the small alley and there seemed to only be two places she could be. Either in the rubbel between the two buildings or in the tunnels in the floor boards and side of the building.
On Tuesday April 4, 2006, Nancy Gambert (owner and founder of The Renaissance Group) called me and told me about a cat she was trying to save. I told her I’d meet her in thirty minutes, I grabbed my animal handling gloves and we walked over to Myer’s of Keswick. I in the beggining, like so many who visited us at the site, thought this was your normal feral cat saving situation (what I started to call the “here kitty, kitty” mentality). You locate the general area of the cat and if it wont come out you leave a trap with food in it and give the cat space. Nancy showed my the alley where the cat had gone and the possible areas she could be. We immediately concentrated on the huge garbage pile between the two buildings. Apparantly the fire department had come the day before and had sprayed water from the back of the pile. Maybe whatever pipe or hole she was in had gotten covered now? I climbed the fire-escape and stared down from the roof at the pile but nothing moved and nothing resembled a cat. I went home and got my telephoto camera lense and surveyed the pile from street level and there was still no movement and nothing to hear. We started investigating the corner of the building. Some bricks had been removed already and after removing a ton of debris we were able to find holes that went straight through the wall and also into floor boards of the first floor. We now had an endless corrirdor of possibilities where she could be.
We never heard Molly during the day. She was cat and acted as one. She might have slept most days but was also probably trying to conserve her energy. We were happy that it was raining that day because we knew this increased Molly’s chances of survival if any of the water could reach her. That night we came back and could hear Molly crying, and her cry was strong. You put your head to the bricks and heard a vibration. You felt if you could bust through the wall about a foot in you could grab her. But sound from the beggining until the very end was the tricky thing and the maddening thing. Everyone had an opinion on where she was which would confuse you even more. The majority of the people involved were very accurate in where she would eventually be found. We had the ballpark on how far in she was, but it was the height that would throw everyone off and made it so difficult to find her. Understand we had access to some of the more sophisticated items available to the public used by the Police Emergency Unit and it still did not narrow down where she was.
It was very simple, this cat, this time, was going to live. When you talk and work with those in animal welfare, you hear all the tragedies, the horror stories but this was going to be a good story for them to share in the future and it was that simple. Don’t get me wrong there were doubts
The “here kitty, kitty” mentality.
There was a common mis-conception that Molly was freely roaming in an area and we just needed a way to lure her out. We started to call this the “here kitty, kitty” theory. Unfortunately this was not getting a cat down from a tree. Rescuing Molly was a search and rescue type situation.