Boo Is Unwittingly Walled Up in Concrete and Likely Would Have Spent EternityThere If It Had Not Been for the Heroics of a Good-Hearted Landscaper
|John Depace Extricates Boo from Her Concrete Tomb|
"I went over and I laid on the concrete, and I was crying, saying goodbye. Then I heard her."
-- Peggy Tabachka
Although October 13th did not fall upon a Friday, it might just as well have done so as far as Boo was concerned. Left totally in the dark and therefore completely unprepared for their abrupt arrival, she did not have so much as a clue as to either who the loud and rambunctious men rampaging through her house on Deerfield Drive in Cranberry Township, thirty-four kilometers north of Pittsburgh, could be or, more importantly, what they were doing there in the first place.
All that she instinctively knew was that they scared the living daylights out of her. Therefore, without any available means of expressing her bewilderment and anxieties, the brown and white female of undetermined age chose to do the next best thing, which was to get away from them as quickly as possible by secreting herself in the first available hiding place that presented itself to her.
Normally, that would have been an excellent idea but on this particular occasion it succeeded in only landing her in even greater difficulties. That is because the intruders were construction workers hired by her elderly caretaker, Peggy Tabachka, to make unspecified repairs to the house that they shared.
Included in that work was the filling in with concrete of a space underneath a walkway that led to a backyard swimming pool. As a species, cats historically have been renowned for their notoriously bad luck and on this occasion some of that accumulated misfortune surely must have rubbed off on Boo because of the myriad of hiding places available to her, she unwittingly selected the area underneath the walkway.
Once the workers had finished inside the house, they moved on to the pool where they proceeded to accidentally entomb Boo in a sarcophagus of wet concrete. Having thus gone from the frying pan into the fire, it certainly looked at that point that her fate had been decided in much the same fashion as Montresor sealed Fotunato's in Edgar Allan Poe's 1846 short-story, "The Cask of Amontillado."
When she was unable to locate Boo later in the day, Tabachka almost immediately correctly deduced what had happened to her but for some unexplained reason she simultaneously jumped to the erroneous conclusion that she now was long dead. "I went over and I laid on the concrete, and I was crying, saying goodbye," she later confided to WTAE-TV of Pittsburgh on October 15th. (See "Boo the Cat Gives Cranberry Family Real Scare.") "Then I heard her."
Even though Boo's plaintive meow was indeed a weak one, it nonetheless not only conclusively demonstrated that she was still alive but it also infused Tabachka with new hope that the life of her beloved companion might yet still be spared. With that goal in mind, she accordingly enlisted the services of friends and co-workers in an all-out rescue effort that included two days of clearing brush and digging around her pool.
Despite their best efforts, they were unable to extricate Boo and that prompted Tabachka to call upon the Cranberry Fire Department (CFD) but not so much as a solitary soul within its ranks could be found who was willing to stir so much as a muscle in order to save her cat. In stunning contrast to the exemplary behavior of English firemen in such circumstances, the cold shoulder that the CFD gave Tabachka is exactly what aggrieved cat owners all across America have come to expect from their local firefighters. (See Cat Defender posts of February 20, 2007 and March 20, 2008 entitled, respectively, "A Stray Cat Ignominiously Named Stinky Is Rescued from a Rooftop by Good Samaritans after the Fire Department Refuses to Help" and "Bone-Lazy, Mendacious Firefighters Are Costing the Lives of Both Cats and Humans by Refusing to Do Their Duty.")
There are, of course, exceptions and one of them is Josh Macrow of the Missoula Fire Department who rescued a cat named Lucky from the Clark Ford River on December 27, 2005. (See Cat Defender post of January 13, 2006 entitled "Montana Firefighters Rescue Lucky Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River.)"
More recently in September of last year, Ralph Rhodes of the Eugene-Springfield Fire Department went out of his way in order to save the life of a badly burned tom named Monty Burns from a raging wildfire in Middletown, California. (See Cat Defender post of October 14, 2015 entitled "Because a Compassionate Firefighter from Oregon Chose to Care When His California Guardians Could Not Be Bothered with Doing So, Monty Burns Is Able to Escape the Valley Fire with His Life.")
As things eventually turned out, Tabachka's breath was not entirely wasted on the derelict firemen in that they did suggest that she contact Metarko Landscaping and Excavating of Harmony, sixteen kilometers north of Cranberry, and that ultimately saved the day for Boo. Specifically, John Depace and his crackerjack crew arrived at her residence on October 15th and promptly went to work on the concrete with sledgehammers and a circular saw.
"I don't care about the concrete. You could collapse the pool," Tabachka, speaking as only a true lover of the species would ever dare, told them according to WTAE-TV. "If she's alive, I want her out of there."
After removing a rather large section of the concrete, Depace laid down on the ground and reached underneath the walkway where he was able to grab Boo by the legs and thus pull her out to safety. As it soon was revealed, she had been in even direr straits than first thought.
|Boo Is Reunited with Her Tearful Owner, Peggy Tabachka|
"She was stuck up against some rocks, and there was a little wire that was holding her," Depace later explained to WTAE-TV. "But she was able to turn around and she came right to me."
Best of all, other than being hungry, thirsty, dirty, and stinking of concrete Boo was unharmed by her long and terrifying subterranean ordeal. There can be little denying, however, that the two days that she was forced to spend underground could not have been anything other than pure purgatory.
This also marked the second occasion in recent memory that a group of landscapers had come forward of their own volition in order to be of assistance to a cat in extremis. For example, on June 4th of last year an eighteen-year-old black and brown tom named McGuire was savagely mauled by a police dog in Toronto while his owner, Aidan Moreau-MacLeod, was away from home.
He therefore never would have known what had happened to his cat if an unidentified crew of eyewitness landscapers had not sought him out the following day and informed him accordingly. Although the policemen in question ultimately got away scot-free with not only allowing the attack to occur in the first place but in failing to notify Moreau-MacLeod as well, the landscapers' intervention forced them to own up to their heinous crime and to pay for McGuire's veterinary care and rehabilitation. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2015 entitled "After Allowing One of Their Dogs to Maul McGuire to Within an Inch of His Life, the Toronto Police Do Not Have Even the Common Decency to Summon Veterinary Help for Him.")
As remarkable as Boo's salvation turned out to be, it is nothing out of the ordinary for cats to be entombed, either accidentally or deliberately, below ground. Even more depressing, since only a handful of them have been known in recent years to receive eleventh-hour reprieves, that surely must mean that the vast majority of them suffocate to death. (See Cat Defender posts of May 13, 2015, June 24, 2013, April 4, 2012, and September 11, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Bubba Is Condemned to Spend Forty Days Trapped Underneath a Snow-Covered Porch after Her Uncaring Owners Prematurely Wrote Her Off as Being Dead," "Buried Long Before Her Time, Muffin Is Freed from the Crypt by Her Devoted Six-Year-Old Snuggling Partner," "Buried Alive in a Culvert for Weeks Without Food and with Very Little Water, Libby Is Rescued Battered and Bruised but, Thankfully, Alive," and "Swedish Couple Out Gathering Mushrooms Unearths a Trio of Four-Week-Old Kittens Buried Alive in the Woods.")
They additionally are entombed above the surface in various makeshift mausoleums before being either deposited in the trash or abandoned alongside streets and roads. (See Cat Defender posts of October 3, 2009, February 24, 2010, February 25, 2010, October 14, 2011, and August 31, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Deliberately Entombed Inside a Canvas Bag for Six Days, Duff Is Saved by a Pair of Alert Maintenance Workers at an Apartment Complex in Spokane," "Sealed Up in a Backpack Inside a Plastic Bag and Then Tossed in the Trash, Titch Is Rescued by a Passerby in Essex," "Bess Twice Survives Attempts Made on Her Life Before Landing on All Four Paws at a Pub in Lincolnshire," "Chucked Out in the Trash, Tabitha Winds Up in an Oxygen Chamber with Four Broken Ribs, an Injured Lung, and Pneumonia," and "Beaten and Entombed Above Ground for Several Weeks, a Forever Nameless Cat from Colchester Is Finished Off by the RSPCA which Refuses to Even Investigate Her Death.")
Whenever neither a subterranean nor an above ground tomb is readily available, some owners have been known to resort to the expedient of weighting down their cats in cages and bags before either tossing them into the nearest stream, as was the case with Lucky, or abandoning them on beaches to be drowned by the incoming tides. (See Cat Defender posts of May 20, 2008 and July 9, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Malice Aforethought: Upstate New York Cat Is Saved from a Watery Grave by a Dead Tree and a Passerby; New Hampshire Cat Is Not So Fortunate" and "Dumped in the Normans Kill, Chance Did Not Have a Prayer in Hell Until a Jogger Who Had Turned Off the Music Heard Her Desperate Cries for Help.")
Boo's misfortune also serves as a rather poignant reminder that one of the most potentially dangerous mistakes that owners can make is to invite construction workers into their houses without first having the bon sens to confine their cats to either cages or secure, escape-proof rooms until the interlopers pack up and depart. That is because cats do not like strangers to begin with and that is especially the case if they happen to be loud and their presence is accompanied by considerable hustle and bustle. (See Cat Defender posts of August 4, 2008 and September 8, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Brooklyn Man Gets Locked Up in a Nuthouse and the Loses Digs, Job, and Honey All for Attempting to Save His Friend's Cat, Rumi" and "Bonny Is Rescued at the Last Minute after Spending Seven Weeks Entombed Underneath a Bathtub.")
Moreover, just the mere presence of construction workers in a neighborhood has been known to be sufficient in itself in order to prompt cats into taking flight and, as a consequence, getting into all sorts of trouble. (See Cat Defender post of June 1, 2012 entitled "A Tattoo Unravels Burli's Secret Past But It Is a Radio Broadcast That Ultimately Leads to His Happy Reunion with His Forever Grateful Current Guardian.")
Along those same lines, even the uproar and confusion generated by furniture and other items being either moved in or out of a dwelling can lead to disastrous consequences for cats that are left unattended, especially if they are allowed access to delivery vans and shipping crates. (See Cat Defender posts of November 6, 2006, July 16, 2007, and May 8, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Trapped in a Moving Van for Five Days, Texas Cat Named Neo Is Finally Freed in Colorado," "Accidentally Trapped in a Shipping Crate, a Calico Cat Named Spice Survives a Nineteen-Day Sea Voyage from Hawaii to San Bernardino," and "Domino, Feral and All Alone, Faces an Uncertain Future in Wisconsin Following an Unplanned Trip to Arizona," plus KOBI-TV of Medford, Oregon, July 1, 2014 and July 3, 2014 articles entitled, respectively, "Cat Survives Fifteen-Day Trip in Storage Bin" and "Cat Locked in Storage Unit for a Month Is Reunited with Family.")
Given the intransigence of the CFD, Boo in all likelihood would not be alive today if Depace had not answered Tabachka's desperate plea for assistance. It additionally did not hurt that he is an animal lover. "I've got two dogs and a cat, so I know how she feels," is how he afterwards explained his reason for intervening to WTAE-TV.
Perhaps every bit as remarkable, he refused to charge Tabachka so much as a red cent for saving Boo's life. Kindhearted and gracious individuals like him with an abiding empathy for both animals and humans used to be fairly commonplace but that is no longer the case.
Consequently, whenever they surface their magnanimity not only stands out but it sets them apart from the vast majority of their fellow citizens who nowadays categorically refuse to do anything constructive for anybody unless they first are compensated for doing so. Through the donation of his time, labor, and resources in order to save Boo's life, Depace has more than demonstrated himself to be truly a prince among men.
Photos: WTAE-TV (Boo and Depace) and Moggies (Boo and Tabachka).