When Delores Bushong’s beloved cat Hank got stuck in a tree more than 50 feet up, she called the Humane Rescue Alliance for assistance. For five days, our Field Services team attempted to get Hank down safely, which proved to be a challenge. The tree branches were too unstable to climb, and the location of the tree made it impossible to reach with a fire truck’s aerial ladder.
Having found no other option, we had to get creative. Our team placed high-value treats and clothing with Delores’ scent on them in a basket – which our rescuers referred to as “Hank’s Party Pack” – and rigged a rope system to raise it more than 50 feet in hopes Hank would be willing to jump in. After a few attempts and additional rigging, Hank jumped in and was safely lowered to the ground.
It truly took a village to rescue Hank from the tree – from our many Field Services staff who conducted numerous daytime rescue attempts and checked on Hank in the evenings, to the neighbors who offered ladders and allowed us unlimited access to their yards, to staff members from Casey Trees who volunteered significant expertise and assistance, even though rescuing kitties from trees is not their mission, as a special favor to Delores, a Casey Trees volunteer.
Chris Schindler, vice president of Field Services at HRA, said: “I can only imagine how agonizing it was for Hank to be stuck 50 feet up in a tree without food or water and in direct sunlight for five days and four nights. Hank’s successful rescue was undoubtedly made possible by the dozens of community members who worked together to help reunite this family.”
“It was way above anything anyone would expect,” Delores said of the rescue. “It was so far beyond what any individual could do. It brought the community together in a way that was amazing and allowed me to see just how many people would go out of their way to save this animal. People told me they woke up in the middle of the night thinking what else they could do to get Hank down from the tree. I’m happy to live in Washington, D.C., where we have an incredible resource in the Humane Rescue Alliance. For me, it was a wonderful ending.”
Delores said Hank started purring the moment she picked him up and he’s enjoyed his time back home by snoozing on his favorite chair.