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Rancho Adobe firefighters rescue cat after six-day ordeal in tree

  • Rancho Adobe firefighter Chris Foss climbs down with a cat named Bagheera that he put in a duffel bag after rescuing it from a tree in Petaluma, California on Tuesday, October 16, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

It's a tale that happens in small towns, places where folks know each other's names and care about one another.

Outside a rural Petaluma-area home Tuesday, three animal-loving Rancho Adobe Fire Department firefighters rescued Carol Peek Griffin's 1-year-old cat, Bagheera, which had been stuck 50 feet up a redwood tree for six days.

It was the department's third attempt to retrieve the feline. The first time, Bagheera got scared and climbed higher in the tree, and the second, darkness curtailed rescue efforts.

But, as he promised, Capt. Larry Martinez and his crew returned Tuesday morning after handling other calls.

Firefighter Chris Foss climbed up the tree, while Engineer Ryan Rania assisted from below with the ladder and safety harnesses.

Foss, who grew up with cats and dogs, had the touch. And a bag of tuna.

"Oh, hi!" he cooed gently to Bagheera as he carefully climbed to within about 10 feet of the grey and white cat, about 40 feet up the tree. "Good to see you."

"Go slow," urged his captain, peering skyward from the base of the ladder. "No sudden movements. Get that tuna out."

"She's coming to me," Foss said. "Well, she made a move."

A bundle of nerves, Peek Griffin craned her neck, seeking a glimpse of her cat through the redwood limbs.

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