International Rescue: Binnie
Sharon Smallbone, text and photo
I’ve found myself caught in some ridiculous situations trying to help animals. But the Binnie saga probably took the biscuit.
I was walking the dogs round the dirt track near my house and, unusually, I had to turn back and retrace my steps.
If I remember rightly it was to avoid a potential farm ‘farm animal versus dog hazard’. These circumstances might include a shepherd driving his sheep or some bulls tethered a bit close to the path and looking rather too interested in the dogs. Whatever it was, if it looked like there may be trouble ahead I always erred on the side of caution.
So that day I back-tracked and heard a cat in distress. A real desperate cry for help. Of course it’s most constructive to have three dogs wanting to get involved when this stuff happens because any creature already in dire straits can only be comforted by three strange overexcited animals wanting to stick their noses in.
I worked out that the cat was stuck in the bin. As if you hadn’t already made the connection, that’s how Binnie got her name. The communal bins are big metal green things with a sliding lid and a small drainage pipe at the bottom so rainwater can escape. There was a kitten, too small to climb out, which had tried to exit via the drainage pipe and got stuck.
Her head was all the way out of the pipe but she was stuck fast and she couldn’t make it in or out. I tied the dogs to the fence and climbed in the bin (empty) but couldn’t shift the kitten. I didn’t dare try too hard in case I pulled her head off.
So, off to see a friend who lived nearby to beg for some oil. She happened to have a couple of friends round for coffee so the three of them came back to the bin with me. We poured the oil, the kitten was still stuck fast and there was still that head dilemma.
I phoned my friend Allyn who’s helped me a few times with animal crises but he was out and needed a bit of time to get to me. Then I remembered Chris who used to be a fireman and who also lived close by. Firemen know all about extracting things from tricky situations right? So I went and got him too.
We went back to the bin and by the time we’d regrouped to formulate a plan, Allyn and Judith turned up. So there were now seven of us (and the three dogs tied to the fence) trying to get this kitten out of the bin pipe. I found out afterwards that somebody suggested knocking her on the head with a brick while I wasn’t around but, fortunately, everybody else revolted at the suggestion. Eventually the oil did its work and we eased her out, head and all.
Then I had to get her home. Allyn and Judith elected to come with me so we had another farce. I got in the car with Allyn, holding poor terrified Binnie and Judith ran behind the car with my three dogs on their stretchy leads, criss-crossing and getting tangled whenever she slowed her pace.
We got there and I think it took about three baths to get the oil and filth off Binnie. She was so traumatised that she submitted to it all. But once she came round a bit she shot behind the sofa and that’s where I fed her. It’s also where she left me many messy presents to clear up. But ultimately she was cold and wet and the lure of the heater overcame her fear. There was also my amazing dog Aliti. No matter how scary a new place was for kittens they always knew he was trustworthy. She sat in the direct heat, drying off and he licked her as she sat.
The little drowned rat eventually turned into a beautiful tabby and she had many good bonus years as a very well loved house cat.