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Lathrop Manteca firefighters save feline caught in fence
cat fence
The cat, which was successfully rescued, had managed to get its paws on either side of the fence – which was constructed to protect people and prevent accidental falls or intentional jumps from the Lathrop Road crossing over the railroad.

Earlier this year the Lathrop Manteca Fire District went viral with its efforts to safely bring down a dog that had climbed up to a tree and didn’t know how to get down.

The same agency was in the spotlight again on Wednesday after a domesticated cat somehow managed to climb up to the top and straddle a fence at the above-grade railroad crossing on Lathrop Road and stumped residents and even animal control officials who were unsure about how to safely capture the animal that could have fallen if spooked.

Using a ladder and a net to catch the cat if it jumped, a crew from the Lathrop Manteca Fire District was able to respond and capture the animal safely where it was turned over to animal control officers for evaluation and safekeeping.

It was all in a day’s work for an agency that boasts a unique blend of urban and rural residents and the unique human and animal dynamics that come as a result.

“We have seen dogs in trees, escaped parrots on roofs, a dog with her head stuck in a brick wall, horses, cats, and a list that goes on,” Lathrop Manteca Division Chief Larry Madoski said. “With almost 100 square miles of municipal and rural areas to cover we really need to be on our A-game.

“Our crews do a really great job with the challenges they are thrown – in the end, it’s all about protecting the public.”

Because of the diverse range of animal-related calls that the agency typically responds to – a blend of domestic animals and rural agricultural animals live within the district’s boundaries – there are currently plans in the works to host an Animal Rescue Course for other first responders or non-profit groups that deal with an interact with animals.

In addition to helping save animals like the cat on Wednesday and the dog earlier this year, the agency has been called out to some head-scratching calls where animals became a safety concern – including an overturned horse trailer along a busy freeway segment where they had to safely remove and then calm a horse that could have very easily run into traffic and injured itself or any of the thousands of motorists that pass by that location every single day.

The above-grade crossings where the cat was first spotted on Wednesday by a passing motorist extend dozens of feet above the railroad tracks below as a way to keep traffic moving while the busy Union Pacific Railyard continues to operate without impediments.

By using the net as a safety mechanism, firefighters were able to provide a safe alternative if the cat were to be spooked by the approaching first responders and jumped or lost its balance – potentially saving its life in the process.

The initial report of the stranded animal garnered an outpouring of interest on social media when it first appeared Wednesday afternoon – including the video of the firefighters successfully securing the animal and achieving a happy ending.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.