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Daring cat rescue on GR's west side garners attention on social media

Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 10:11:35-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A daring cat rescue nearly 50 feet off the ground was caught on camera over the weekend.

The video is getting a lot of attention on social media, not only because of the good deed but the skill required to bring that cat back to safety.

The video was originally posted in the We Are Westsiders Facebook group on Saturday March, 13.

A couple walking their dog spotted a cat way up in the trees at Richmond Park. They immediately called Robin Walenga, a domestic and wild animal advocate who helps with animal rescues.

Walenga said, “She messaged me and said, ‘Robin, there’s a cat in the tree.’”

She told FOX 17 that she knew who her next call would be to: Erick Baker with Tip Top Tree Care LLC.

Baker said, “It wasn’t my first cat rescue; I’ve got a couple under my belt.”

The experienced tree surgeon is used to being in all kinds of situations for helping his clients but admits this rescue required caution.

“Kind of a bit of an iffy climb,” Baker said. “Probably only 45 foot vertically, but he was out over a leaner.”

Baker explained that given the circumstances, he’d take use of a static rope technique.

“We use mechanical extenders,” Baker explained. “I use one that’s attached to my right foot, then I use a knee extender that’s spring-loaded, and those are friction devices, so they will move one direction on the rope. So as I step up and then put pressure down, it locks on the rope and allows me to walk up the rope like I would go up a ladder.”

The rescue mission only took him 30 seconds to reach the daring feline.

“I had a full conversation with the cat; we went back and forth a little while,” Baker said.

After clearing loose branches from his path Baker was able to grab the cat and descend safely.

It’s a tale the cat can tell its owners, once Walenga finds them.

She said, “He does not have a microchip, no collar, no tags; he’s been reported to Kent County Animal Shelter, and there are posters that are up here in the park.”

While it’s not Baker's whole job description, helping cats keep all of their nine lives sure feels good.

“It means a lot that I’m able to go out and do something positive for the community and have the community turn around and say all the things that they’re saying about what I’m able to do.”

The Tip Top Tree Care LLC Facebook page will be up and running by the end of the week.

The cat is in a foster home until Walenga can find its original owners or gets adopted.

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