Saved From The Gurgler
by Tony Kelly
HI-Tech helpers proved a miaowvelous boost for a forlorn feline when it became stuck down a drainpipe in Brookvale.
While the fire brigade was poised for action, it was the local plumber who was best placed to rescue the muddled moggy.
Plumber Bill Miller cast aside his arsenal of plungers and monkey wrenches in favour of the "rigid sea snake" - an optic fibre cable with a camera on the end which is normally used to pinpoint problems in pipes.
In this instance the snake was used to locate the crying kitten and prod it into an easily-accessible section of the drainpipe.
"The kitten had fallen into an opening in a downpipe which had no grate over it, so we put the camera down the pipe to try to see where it had fallen," Mr Miller said. "We were trying to coax it into the main line with the camera but there was a blockage and then it started raining which meant the kitten needed to go fully underwater in the pipe to get out."
They also struck problems when the kitten, rather than being intimidated by the camera, saw it as a toy and cuffed it with its paws. Mr Miller said there was a concern that if they could not shift the cat quickly the drain would have filled up and drowned it.
"We've got a cable which we use to guide the camera to try to unblock the pipe to allow the kitten to come through but when we pulled it out the kitten came with it" he said.
The kitten was given a clean bill of health by RSPCA inspectors at the scene and it was then taken to their Yagoona offices.
Mr Miller said it was one of the more unusual jobs he had used the special camera for.
"The camera means we can go straight to where a problem is in a drain and just dig up the damaged section rather than guessing where the problem is and having to dig the whole thing up," he said. "It saves thousands of dollars for our customers and saves us a lot of time."
Plumber Bill Miller feeds the tiny camera into the drainpipe to assess the kitten's predicament