LEETONIA - After rescuing nearly 30 stray cats in two years, Denise and Ray Muniz want more people to be aware of alternatives to abandoning or not properly taking care of their pets.
A week ago the couple rescued yet another cat near their home.
Denise Muniz said she saw some neighbor kids running after the cat when it scrambled up a tree between her property and the commercial building next door.
She watched the cat climb higher and higher, until at nearly 50 feet, it was so frightened that it held tight to a limb and wouldn't move for four days.
Denise Muniz and her husband couldn't ignore the cat's cries for help, but there was nothing they could do on their own and it was difficult finding someone-or even an agency-willing or able to get it down.
Randy Hall and Dave Leffel of the Leetonia Fire Department were willing to help, but the department's lack of a ladder truck made it impossible for the men to get up high enough, Denise Muniz said.
The county sheriff's office also sent out a trapper, but couldn't reach due the height, she said.
Finally, after unsuccessful phone calls to other places, Colian Tree Service came with a bucket truck and rescued the cat . The attempt took about an hour, she said.
"They got up in there and had to do some wiggling around to get to some branches," she said. She added that the cat, later found to be a male, was possibly abandoned by someone who had moved out of a nearby apartment recently.
The Munizes kept the cat overnight and on Sunday turned it over to Karen Seidner, of the Spay Station in Lisbon.
Seidner said the beautiful young cat has a very nice demeanor and appears healthy. The non-profit station will be testing it for feline AIDS and leukemia. It has already been wormed and will eventually be neutered before finding a good home.
"He does not scratch or bite. He's just really gentle. He's a gentle spirit. It's just sad what he's been through," she said.
Sadder still, is that cats and other animals are abandoned on a frequent basis.
In addition to the unnamed cat, Seidner was given two 5-month-old kittens another Leetonia resident found along the side of a highway.
The kittens were turned over to her after their rescuer couldn't keep them since animals were prohibited in their apartment building.
Seidner said the kittens were in very poor condition when found, but with the station's help are getting better every day.
"We try to give them a tune-up and find them a home," she said. The station is funded purely through donations so space is limited for how many animals can be rescued.
The Munizes said people who may no longer be able to care for their pets should find a foster home for them. Another alternative is contacting a no-kill shelter. They also advised against feeding animals outside, as that was how they were attracting strays to their home in the beginning.
The couple has worked closely with Seidner and other agencies to get the rescued animals in the proper care, spayed or neutered and placed in a loving environment.
Seidner said information and photos of cats and kittens rescued through the Spay Station are available on petfinder.com