Teamwork leads to rescue of kitten from Bluffton highway storm drain

newsroom@islandpacket.comJune 3, 2014 

Public Information Officer Debbie Szpanka transported this kitten, rescued from a storm drain and therefore named "Stormy," to the Palmetto Animal League.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

When Sandy Oliver saw the 5-week-old kitten cross the road, she didn't stop to ask why. Instead, the Bluffton building inspector went to work to rescue it from the storm drain it had scampered into.

By the time the kitten was delivered to the Palmetto Animal League for safe shelter, four other people had joined in the rescue Monday near the intersection of Bluffton Parkway and S.C. 170, town public information officer Debbie Szpanka said.

The rescue began at about 4:15 p.m., when Oliver saw the kitten run across the Bluffton Parkway and into a storm drain. She stopped to see if she could help get it out.

Photo:  Sandy Oliver, Town Building Inspector, sees a kitten run across Bluffton Parkway at intersection of Hwy. 170. She stops to see if she can save this little guy’s life.
Photo: Sandy Oliver, Town Building Inspector, sees a kitten run across Bluffton Parkway at intersection of Hwy. 170. She stops to see if she can save this little guy’s life.

Moments later Bluffton police officer Jake Higgins, who stopped his car to block traffic, joined her.

As Higgins used his police baton in an effort to drag the kitten closer to safety, a passing Cleland Site Prep supervisor, T.J. Savarese, blocked the road with his truck and opened the storm drain's cap so he could grab the kitten from above.

Photo: Officer Jake Higgins joins the rescue efforts, using his baton as a way to drag the kitty closer to safety.
Photo: Officer Jake Higgins joins the rescue efforts, using his baton as a way to drag the kitty closer to safety.

Photo: Cleland Site Prep Supervisor T.J. Savarese joins the efforts by helping block traffic with his truck, opening the storm cap and finally, grabbing the kitten as it scurried around the drain.
Photo: Cleland Site Prep Supervisor T.J. Savarese joins the efforts by helping block traffic with his truck, opening the storm cap and finally, grabbing the kitten as it scurried around the drain.

Photo: Officer Jake Higgins, building inspector Sandy Oliver and Cleland Site Prep supervisor T.J. Savarese pose with 'Stormy' the kitten.
Photo: Officer Jake Higgins, building inspector Sandy Oliver and Cleland Site Prep supervisor T.J. Savarese pose with 'Stormy' the kitten.

Szpanka took the kitten to the Palmetto Animal League, where it was left with shelter volunteer Kim Young. The kitten was placed with a group of foster kittens and given a name inspired by Monday's rescue: Stormy.

Photo:   Palmetto Animal League Volunteer Kim Young takes

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