College Park Fire Department rescues kitten from car dashboard
By Stephanie Stullich
“You are my heroes!” I exclaimed in relief, as fire technician Cameron Trexler lifted the tiny kitten from where it had been wedged inside the dashboard of my Kia Soul. Earlier that morning, the kitten had wriggled its way from a nest of baby blankets in the passenger side footwell into the space behind the dashboard.
The 3-week-old kitten and his brother had been rescued from an industrial site in Beltsville, along with seven others who had been born to feral moms a few weeks earlier. They were destined for a foster home where they would wait to be adopted.
After a couple of hours of waiting hopefully, I realized that the kitten was not going to climb back out on his own; indeed, he had worked his way deeper behind the dashboard and was mewling pitifully. Fortunately, the brave firefighters at the College Park Volunteer Fire Department were more than up to the task; over the course of about an hour, they patiently disassembled the dashboard until they could finally reach the kitten. As Trexler gently pulled him free, the group erupted into jubilant cheers. “You gotta name that one Cam!” said Ronel Fayette – and we did.
Kitten season is the time of year when feral cat populations explode, as warming temperatures tell female cats that the time is right to get pregnant, and the neighborhood tomcats are happy to do their part. But feral kittens do not have good odds of survival; most of them don’t live to their 6-month birthday, instead succumbing to predation, disease, cars and other hazards.
So from March through the summer, a little-known and largely unsung, loosely affiliated group of volunteers springs into action, bringing humane traps and cat carriers to feral colonies. Cam was rescued, along with other young kittens in his feral colony, by a team of volunteers from Beltsville Community Cats (BCC). These intrepid rescuers worked over the course of several days to scoop up all of the kittens they spotted in the colony.
“Since 2019, we have rescued and adopted out over 430 kittens into loving homes, mostly from Beltsville but some from College Park,” said Sallie Rhodes, BCC president. “That’s a lot of kittens who are no longer out on the street.”
“The problem is, we don’t have enough foster homes to take in all the kittens that we rescue,” said Miranda Mellin, BCC rescue coordinator. “Fostering kittens is a lot of fun, and it saves lives. Every year we have to say no to too many requests to rescue kittens because we simply don’t have enough fosters to take them in. Our foster families make an enormous difference in the lives of these vulnerable creatures; it is truly a labor of love.”
Cam had an infection in his right eye, a common ailment in feral kittens that can lead to blindness if not treated quickly. But he is doing much better now. “Cam’s eye is healing beautifully,” reported Michele Touchet, the BCC bottle feeder who gives young kittens formula around the clock until they are old enough to be weaned. “He’s a very special, happy-go-lucky little guy. He’s not at all shy; he loves to wrestle with his littermates and cuddle with his humans. He is going to bring so much joy and love to some lucky family.”
For more information about how you can get involved with fostering kittens or adult rescue cats, or to inquire about adopting Cam, contact Stephanie Stullich at firstname.lastname@example.org or Beltsville Community Cats at email@example.com.