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To the Rescue: Smokey and the Ash Pit

Catchpoles aren’t for cats—unless they’ve fallen into a deep hole

Catchpoles aren’t for cats—unless they’ve fallen into a deep hole

Smokey wasn’t so smoke-colored once he’d been cleaned up in the aftermath of his fireplace adventure./Warwick Valley Humane Society
It all began when Dougal, Dolly, and Dixie, three little dogs belonging to Reggie and Kate Washington of Chester, New York, started barking and growling at the fireplace they’d never much minded before. When the Washingtons peered into the ash pit underneath, they saw the eyes of a frightened cat peering back.

Most fireplace pits in the area’s houses have an opening in the basement, says Suzyn Barron, animal control officer and president of the Warwick Valley Humane Society in Warwick, N.Y. By emptying old embers through this downstairs access point, residents can remove ash without dirtying up their living rooms.

But the scared kitty trapped in the Washingtons’ pit didn’t realize what he’d gotten himself into. His crash pad of choice lacked the traditional basement opening, leaving his would-be rescuers scratching their heads about how to get him out. The only known access was a brick-sized hole in the fireplace too small to pull a cat through—particularly a fairly large cat who was at least six feet below that opening.

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