Roxie, a 9-month-old male, orange tabby cat, was not a roamer for two reasons. First, Roxie was an indoor-only cat who was never allowed outdoors. And second, Roxie was blind and suffered a spinal dislocation in the neck at the age of 6 weeks after having been crushed in a recliner chair by his former owner. Roxie was rushed to the vet and his life was saved by Dr. Jan White, a veterinarian with the Sawyer Lake Vet Hospital in Kent, WA. Dr. White repaired Roxie’s dislocated neck and adopted the special needs kitten. Although he regained his ability to walk, Roxie was left blind.
So when Dr. White discovered on October 18, 2009 that Roxie had managed to escape outside, she jumped into action. She conducted a frantic search of her neighborhood, but could not find Roxie. The following morning, she recruited her staff members and continued her search efforts. Dr. White talked to neighbors, printed and distributed over 300 fliers, and called for Roxie while searching the area. When she still could not find Roxie, Dr. White called and asked for our assistance.
I (Kat Albrecht) responded along with volunteer Jim Branson and our two search dogs, Sadie and Kelsy. At first, we attempted to track Roxie’s scent trail with no results. Next, we conducted an area search, checking neighbor’s yards looking in every hiding place using Sadie (a cat detection dog), a powerful spotlight, and a plumber’s camera without luck.
During our search, a possible sighting came in from nine blocks way. But once we arrived there, it just felt wrong. I reflected on my knowledge of displaced cat behviors. Although I had never searched for a blind cat and I had no clue just how far Roxie would travel, I concluded it was just not probable that Roxie would have traveled nine blocks. So, we returned to search the remaining yards in Roxie’s neighborhood.
While searching the final yard on Dr. White’s block, volunteer Jim Branson used a spotlight and found Roxie under a deck. But here’s where it got fun. The deck was too low and Jim could not reach Roxie who wandered repeatedly in circles (due to his blindness). All of the adults were too big (scary, but true!) to fit under that deck! We watched helplessly as Roxie wandered around and around and around in circles, no matter how many times we called him.
We were at a loss of how to reach Roxie until 11-year-old Rees Haacke came to the rescue! Rees happened to be riding his bike around the neighborhood and was in front of the house when we found Roxie, so we immediately recruited him. Rees climbed on his belly under the deck and brought Roxie out, handing the blind cat to waiting rescuers. Within thirty minutes, Roxie was back in the arms of a very relieved Dr. White.
The ironic thing about Rees being the one to save Roxie is this: earlier that morning Dr. White had talked with a group of kids as they boarded their school bus, asking them to keep an eye out for her blind cat. Rees was one of those kids and he prophetically told Dr. White, “I’m going to help you find your cat.” We also learned that Rees wasn’t just out for a bike ride either. He and his friend were actually riding their bikes around the neighborhood as they looked for Roxie.
I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. Yes, it was because of us that Roxie was found. But there are two parts to “search-and-rescue” and we needed help with the “rescue” part. It was because of Rees Haacke that Roxie was recovered and returned to his family.
On November 11th, MPP honored Rees at a small ceremony held at the Sawyer Lake Vet Hospital in Kent, WA. We even had Roxie there so he could thank Rees!
It was my pleasure to present Rees Haacke with a real “LOST PET RESCUE” pet detective t-shirt, a copy of my book Pet Tracker, and a plaque making him our first-ever “Honorary Junior Pet Detective” for his role in saving Roxie’s life. Rees’s award reads: “Missing Pet Partnership proudly thanks Rees Haacke for his extraordinary efforts in saving the life of feline Roxie.” My hope is that Rees will never stop his willingness to volunteer and to help both people and animals in need.
NEVER under estimate the power of an 11-year-old!
Way to go Rees!