Port Angeles cat rescued from atop utility pole
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Gabriel Sanwald of Port Angeles holds Storm shortly after the cat was rescued from a utility pole behind her home.
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Storm roams the cross bar on a utility pole off McCarver Road east of Port Angeles on Thursday.
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Gabriel Sanwald, with her son, Ami Hauff, 19 months, and dog, Kita, was concerned about her cat, Storm, who was stuck on a utility pole behind their house east of Port Angeles until the cat's rescue Thursday afternoon.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — After at least one night stuck up on a power pole, Storm the cat is back home safe and sound.

“He's very happy to be home,” owner Gabriel Sanwald said Thursday.

Two-year-old Storm had been trapped up a power pole behind her home on McCarver Road since at least Wednesday morning, Sanwald said.

Sanwald said she had called most anyone she could think of to help get the 2-year-old cat down, to no avail.

Clallam County Public Utility District staff initially told her they would not send a line crew to retrieve the cat.

On Thursday afternoon, however, a PUD staffer called her and said a crew in a bucket truck would be in the area and would come by her house.

“I'm glad that [the PUD employee] called back and took me seriously,” Sanwald said.

The crew arrived at about 2:45 p.m. Thursday and rescued the cat, she said.

“He's frazzled but eating and fine,” she added.

PUD spokesman Michael Howe said it's “general practice” for crews to not make specific trips to rescue animals.

“They happened to be in the area, and one of our operations managers chose to make this decision,” Howe said.

Sanwald said Storm appeared to cling briefly to the pole as the PUD line worker reached for it and then clung to the worker as the two were lowered back to the ground.

Sanwald said she was initially having trouble finding someone to help get her cat down.

A 9-1-1 call Wednesday afternoon elicited the advice to put a can of tuna at the bottom of the 55-foot pole to entice the cat down, she said.

Howe said the general practice of not rescuing animals off power poles is for the line workers' own safety and to avoid risking damage to power lines.

Sanwald said the tree trimming services and other private companies she contacted told her they could not legally go near the pole, since it is owned by the PUD.

“Nobody can work up there other than PUD personnel or our qualified contractors, if we allow our qualified contractors to do that sort of thing,” Howe said.

Fire Chief Sam Phillips of Clallam County Fire District No. 2 said firefighters cannot access power poles without the PUD being involved.

“We could not come climb the power pole,” Phillips said.

“We are not equipped to climb the power pole, nor are we trained to deal with electrical hazards.”

Phillips said he had not heard of Storm's situation.

But firefighters do rescue cats that have climbed too high.

Firefighter Nate Thompson scaled 80 feet up a tree near Ranger Road to retrieve a cat Monday.

“Our mission is to meet the needs of the community, and we always try to do that within our scope and our means,” Phillips said.

Sanwald said she got Storm as a 7-week-old kitten from a family in Tacoma.

Storm had been weaned too soon but found a surrogate in Sandwald's home: Kita, her Labrador mix.

“I brought him home, he started nursing off my dog, and now they sleep together every night,” Sanwald said, adding that Storm shares Kita's easygoing temperament.

Storm went missing Monday, Sanwald said, adding that Storm's absence prompted an unusual response from Sandwald's other cat, Milo, on Tuesday.

Five-year-old Milo, strictly an indoor animal, stayed outside for about 12 hours until Sanwald noticed Storm was stuck atop the power pole.

Until Storm was rescued, Milo kept vigil on his housemate from Sandwald's bedroom window.

“He was definitely distressed over his little brother stuck on the telephone pole,” she said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 17. 2014 6:55PM
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