A North Bend arborist is using his climbing skills for a higher purpose – rescuing cats stuck in trees!
In addition to managing trees, Shaun Sears and Tom Otto operate “Canopy Cat Rescue.” They offer their services day or night, in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and everywhere in between.
Though you may think if a cat can climb UP, she should be able to get down. That's not always the case. According to vetstreet.com, cats have claws that are designed to take them forward - or up - if that’s where they’re pointed. Getting down is another story - an inexperienced and/or frightened cat may just get stuck.
And that's where Shaun comes in.
Shaun says he's been rock climbing and mountain climbing (he's a Mount Rainier mountain guide and has climbed Rainier more than 100 times) for about 20 years and tree climbing as a certified arborist for the last 10 years.
He says he has two dogs and a cat and can't imagine losing one of them, or having his pet stuck somewhere and not being able to rescue or help that pet, so he decided to help.
“Because of my climbing background and skills, I feel like if I can help an animal get home safely, that's what I need to do. It makes me feel pretty happy each time I can help a cat out. Especially when I know that I might have the skills to save a cat and it could be its last chance.”
Shaun says most of the time the cats realize he is there to help and they allow him to get to them but this week a cat named Orion kept going up and up – to the point where the tree would not support Shaun’s body weight.
“I cut the top of the tree and then lifted it up with him in it, just set the top of the tree in my lap and put him in a bag,” he said. “That was the first time I had to cut a tree.”
In another recent case, Shaun got the call that a cat named "Stripe-asaurus" had shimmied up a pipe and ended up stuck about 30 feet up on a concrete beam under a bridge in the South Lake Union area of Seattle.
Photos show the precarious position the cat was in, and also show the poor girl crying for help.
Shaun was able to toss a rope up over the concrete beam and ascend reach her.
“She was ready to go – she knew I was there to help, for sure,” he said.
The women who contacted Shaun then called the cat's owner (the cat was wearing tags).
"There was a tearful reuniting between owner and kitty. It was pretty awesome," Shaun said.
Shaun accepts donations for his services but does not charge.
“I’m pretty much the only one who’s willing to accept the people who can’t afford much,” he said.
He estimates that he has rescued 80 cats in the last couple of years.
So if your favorite feline finds herself stuck in a tree or under a bridge, give Shaun a call. He's there to help.