NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — Rescue truly takes a village.
Several local departments came together in Tuscarawas County to rescue three kittens trapped on an icy river. Authorities were alerted by a concerned citizen that there was a diaper box out on the water at Port Washington.
That box held three small, scared, cold kittens.
"The sheriff's department are actually the ones who got the initial call," Haley Predragovich, shelter director at the Tuscarawas County Humane Society, told 3News. "A Good Samaritan saw them, realized there are kittens in that diaper box, and called the sheriff's department. The sheriff's department contacted us.”
And so, a rescue began, involving both the sheriff department and the Humane Society as well as the Arrowhead Joint Fire District. Because the river's ice was so unstable, they had to use a boat to reach the kittens.
"The fire department was able to get the river rescue out, really, in the nick of time," Predragovich said.
The ice was melting away before their eyes, and one of the kittens had even escaped the comfort of the diaper box and started to cross the icy river. After arriving to the shelter, veterinarians were concerned with the health of the adventurous kitten — a small, tortoiseshell female now aptly named Sacagawea.
"She was, at least to our knowledge, on the ice for about three hours," Predragovich stated. "But believe it or not, she had no evidence of frostbite."
In fact, none of the three had frostbite or hypothermia. Predragovich says they were healthy, except for evidence of previous flea issues, which was the least of their concerns.
The other two male cats were named Lewis and Clark.
"We did kind of a little play off of the river and it being a little bit of an adventure," Predragovich said of their names.
The three are available for adoption this weekend, but Predragovich says a firefighter involved in the rescue is interested in adopting Sacagawea.
"These kittens specifically are the most cuddly, sweet kitties we've had in probably a long time," Predragovich added. "They’re going to be the perfect family pet."
While these kittens are getting a happy ending, the Tuscarawas County Humane Society still has about 100 cats at the shelter looking for theirs, in addition to a variety of other pets.
"We're not limited to just dogs and cats," Predragovich explained. "We have rabbits, we have potbelly pigs, we've had birds, reptiles, guinea pigs, ferrets, and rodents."
The shelter is always accepting donations of any kind, as well, so they can continue helping cats like Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea.
"We do have limited space, but we are always available," Predragovich said. "We do our best to make sure we are able to take in as many cats as possible."
Rescues like these, however, should never have to happen for cats to be saved. Predragovich stresses that there are other options, and it's never acceptable to harm an animal like this.
"Throwing a batch of cats over a bridge, potentially drowning them in frigid cold water, is not the way to go," she declared. "It is absolutely unacceptable."
You can apply to adopt Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea or any of the adoptable animals on the humane society's website or by calling (330) 339-6060. The Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office is searching for suspects regarding the dumping of the kittens, and they ask anyone with information to call (330) 339-2000.