News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 3, 2013

Readers’ Forum: July 3, 2013

TERRE HAUTE — Grateful salute to Honey Creek Fire Department

Her frenzied meows cried “Mom, I’m alive, I’m here, I’m here!” Tears of joy, clouded by fear, streaked my cheeks as I listened to her calling from somewhere underneath the unused shed. As of yesterday, Patches had been missing two weeks.

I had left Terre Haute on Sunday, June 9, to go back to Ohio to pack up 30 years in order to return to Terre Haute to care take of my 92-year-old father who has dementia. My sister had flown in from Florida to stay with Dad during my absence. Patches had gone out in the morning but had not returned before I left — and did not henceforth.

Upon my sister’s inquiries with neighbors, Patches had been seen around a neighbor’s shed. Neither Janet’s nor our neighbor’s attempts to hunt and call for Patches proved successful. Food and water were set out, yet they never saw her. I prayed she had not met with a traumatic end.

Sunday, after returning to Terre Haute, I began my own search, secretly hoping to find her alive, although reason was telling me something different. Naturally, I started with the shed. I could not hear her from the outside, but when I went inside, was then able to hear her confirming, compelling meows.

We dug and dug, she continued to answer my quests, but we couldn’t get her out. Frantic, I called 911 who sent the Honey Creek Fire Department. I heard sirens but assumed they were for someone else’s emergency. An insurmountable relief filled my heart when I saw them pull onto our street. The crew began immediately assessing the situation, they dug more and were laying all around the shed on the ground, flashlights searching — finally someone saw her, but she wouldn’t come out. They prepared the shed for lifting.

With crew members at each end and on the side using soft-end poles to help scoot and direct her to one of the tunnels, one crew member was able to finally reach in enough to grab hold of a front paw and pull Patches free. I was engulfed in overwhelming admiration and gratefulness. This  crew was more than terrific. Each and every one of them.

Upon inquiring if they would send me a bill, the reply was, “We don’t charge for this.” Unbelievable. There will be a donation.

Thank you, Honey Creek Fire Department, you were no less than totally awesome. After spending the night at the Emergency Clinic, Patches is now in her favorite spot, on Dad’s lap. I still can’t believe she survived two weeks pinned underneath that shed. Miracles?

Humbled by the capacity of human compassion and dedicated rescue professionalism, I salute you, Honey Creek Fire Department.

— Jill Stanley

Terre Haute

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