A tiny kitten has been rescued after the feline was trapped 44 feet underground in a cold well for five days in South Carolina.
The animal’s meows of distress were heard by a local resident Kimberly Cockrell, who initially tried to save the kitten herself by encouraging him to climb up sticks she’d thrown down the well. When that didn’t work, she contacted local organizations before reaching out to California-based animal rescue group Hope for Paws.
"I got a call in the middle of the night. A lady called Kimberly Cockrell called from South Carolina and told us that she had discovered that a kitten had fallen down a well 44 feet deep," said Eldad Hagar, a specialist with the organization. "She was throwing him down food, but we knew the kitten didn’t have long."
Hagar and Loreta Frankoye, another specialist, hopped on a red-eye flight, traveling 2,100 miles from Los Angeles to South Carolina to save the tiny kitten.
The pair used specialist equipment, including a gentle snare, and managed to pull the 9-ounce kitten to the surface in an hourlong rescue on May 7.
"The kitten’s meows had become super weak so we knew time was of the essence," Hagar said. "We knew he was running out of time. It was a very stressful rescue. We couldn’t see the kitten because it was so dark. We began working on removing the branches, pulling the large ones up out of the way."
When they were finally able to lift him out of the well, the kitten was suffering from hypothermia. They said he felt "as cold as ice."
The animal-saving pair immediately put the kitten into their car and warmed him up against the heater as they rushed him to a veterinary hospital.
There, the kitten, which they have named Jessie, was rehydrated and fed. Within an hour, he began to perk up.
Hagar and Frankoye filmed the entire rescue. They admitted becoming emotional as they watched the footage later.
“We’re just happy that Jessie is OK and thriving," Frankoye said. "It’s very satisfying. People have been saying the video is our best one yet."
Jessie was later adopted by a local woman in South Carolina.