BOWDEN - We have all heard the old saying, "If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there, does it make a sound?" Hearing the ongoing plight of Candy, a coal-black cat owned by Bowden resident Linda Teter, one might ask, "If a cat is stuck 45 feet up a tree in freezing temperatures and high winds, can anyone hear its cries for help?"
Thankfully, Matt Holland, an employee of Dogwood Tree Service, went out on a limb - literally -to answer the call for help and rescued the cat late Friday evening.
Teter, who has special needs, has raised Candy from a kitten and was distraught because the cat would not come down from the tree. Eight-year-old Candy became frightened on Jan. 16 and took to the safety of a tree, and as of Friday, had climbed 45 feet above the ground.
Teter's guardians, Tom and Liz Wymer, said Friday afternoon they had asked for help to bring the cat back down to safety, but had received no assistance. The cat had no food or water, and had endured 25 mph wind gusts and wind chills plunging to minus 20 degrees.
"We have tried to coax her down, but she continues to go higher and higher," Tom Wymer said Friday afternoon. "I cannot believe that she is still living after eight days without food and water."
Tom Wymer said he called the Elkins Volunteer Fire Department asking for help, but was told they could not assist him. He also called Randolph County Dog Warden Jim Cain and was told "something must have scared the cat really bad to it get it to go up the tree so far," but no help was offered, Tom Wymer said.
Elkins Fire Chief Tom Meader told The Inter-Mountain Friday there was nothing the department could do to help the situation.
"We have no resources to get the cat out of the tree," Meader said. "We have no ladders that tall, and we cannot take a bucket truck there. My advice is they need to call a tree service to get the cat from the tree."
Meader added, "We have never taken a dead cat out of a tree. It will come down eventually."
The Inter-Mountain also called the Randolph County Animal Shelter. Representatives offered the Wymers the use of a Have-A-Heart trap. Shelter workers said the family should set the trap with food at the bottom of the tree, with a blanket around it to keep the cat warm when it climbs into the trap.
Liz Wymer said veterinarian Eileen Lammie told her to bring the cat to her office as soon as it was rescued so it could be warmed and observed, since it had been outside without food and water for so long.
The Inter-Mountain posted a message on Facebook Friday asking folks for any ideas or suggestions they had to help rescue Candy. Many offered suggestions, including calling a tree service. The information was passed along to the Wymers.
Contacted by The Inter-Mountain Friday afternoon, Randolph County Office of Emergency Manager Jim Wise said he was unaware of the situation.
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton returned a call to The Inter-Mountain Friday afternoon saying he stopped by to talk with Meader about the situation.
"We decided that we would meet and go out to the Wymers to try and get the cat down," Broughton said. "Two Elkins firefighters, Tommy Hamrick and Matt Ogden, took a truck to Bowden to try and rescue the cat, but we were not successful."
Broughton said they tried everything, but the cat would not come down.
Additional pleas were sent out on Facebook by the Wymer's daughters-in-law, Donna Hutton and Carrie Shupp, looking for help to get Candy from the tree.
Liz Wymer said Holland came to their home, climbed the tree and rescued Candy from branches 60 feet in the air at approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday evening.
"We are so thankful for Matt Holland, Van Broughton, the firemen and those on Facebook who posted information and volunteered to help," Liz Wymer said Monday.
She reports that Candy was checked by Dr. Lammie and she is doing well.
"Candy was a little dehydrated, and we will have to watch her for a few weeks," Liz Wymer said. "She has some areas of frostbite on the tips of her feet, ears and tail. Matt was such a sweetheart to rescue her. He even called Saturday to check on her condition."
Liz Wymer said Teter was very excited to have her cat back safe and sound.
"I thought she was going to cry when Matt came down the tree with her."
In a phone call to The Inter-Mountain Monday, Broughton said he is beginning work to develop a rescue group in the Elkins area.
"I want to get with folks to help plan a pet rescue group so we have a list of contacts who can help in situations like the cat up the tree," Broughton said. "This way, if a dog is across a river or an animal is in need, we will have a plan in place and a list to go from."
Broughton said he wants to have a plan of action so nothing like Candy's situation happens again.