Lake County, Florida Fire Rescue crew member Valerie Ligi left the scene of a call to a Leesburg home with a little something more than she'd planned – a kitten she rescued from below ground, where it was trapped.
Ligi and Lt. Jeffrey Coulthart responded to a call from Leesburg residents Ron and Dot Gilbert, who had rescued a little kitten from their fence but continued to hear cries from another kitten they were unable to see.
The Gilberts said they heard a "pitiful cry" coming from their garden and saved a kitten they found trapped in their fence, but called for help from firefighters when they still continued to hear cries.
The Gilberts gave permission for Ligi and Coulthart to dismantle their fence, and the second kitten was discovered lodged inside a post that was set into cement and went more than 2 feet underground.
Ligi was able to lie up against the opening and reach down to successfully grab the kitten and bring it up to safety.
"I can't say enough about how impressed we were by Lt. Coulthart and Firefighter Ligi," the Gilberts wrote in a letter to Lake County Public Safety. "They were both professional, courteous, compassionate and determined to effect a rescue. Had it not been for them, the kitten would surely have been doomed to an agonizing demise."
"We explained the situation and the two immediately got to work, which was no small feat, not knowing where in the fence the kitten was and how to get him out without causing harm to him," Ron Gilbert said.
The Gilberts adopted the kitten they rescued and Ligi adopted the one she saved from underground.
"I thought it was a girl, but after I took him to the vet for a checkup, the vet confirmed that it was actually a little boy that was just about 4 weeks old and weighed 10 ounces," Ligi said. "I named him Pickles. This particular 911 call turned out to be a very happy ending for all of us."
After two weeks of bottle feedings, Pickles is doing well and eating and drinking on his own. He is settling into his new home and, as the photo at bottom shows, has been accepted by Ligi's adult cat.