Just Another Guy with Opinions

Brutis the Cat Rescued at Last

Posted by shadmia on December 31, 2008

Brutis In TreeBrutis the CatMichael and Brutis

There is a sense of familiarity to a story about a cat getting caught up in a tree. This is one of these stories but with a twist. This story is not so much about the cat, rather it is about the downright un-neighborliness of a Phoenix police officer who seemed willing to thwart the efforts of his neighbor to recover his cat.

It all began on Dec. 23, when homeowner, Michael, realized that his cat named Brutis had escaped from the house. When Michael finally tracked Brutis down, he was stuck in the branches, two stories in the air, on his neighbor’s property. So Michael knocked on his neighbor’s door and explained that his cat was stuck up in the tree. The neighbor, a Phoenix Police Officer, said there was nothing he could do and that the cat would probably come down on its own.

Brutis did no such thing. On Christmas day he was still in the tree. The Arizona Humane Society was called but their ladder was too short to rescue Brutis. They suggested that Michael leave food at the trunk of the tree to entice the cat to come down, but to Michael’s surprise the police officer refused to let him leave any food. The officer would not let him back on the property, claiming that he was concerned that if someone got hurt while trying to get the cat on his property, he would be liable. Michael tried squirting water from a hose at his own house at the cat. Brutis did not budge.

“It seems like I just have to sit here and watch my cat starve to death or freeze to death,” Michael said.

A Phoenix Police spokesperson, Sgt. Tommy Thompson, said the officer did what he could to help the cat. He said the Humane Society called the officer an “angel” who did all he could.

When I spoke to the Arizona Humane Society they advised that the officer was very patient and did everything he possibly could to facilitate the rescue of the cat throughout the course of this incident. In addition, because of the large amount of attention this story has gained, which garnered complaints, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sent investigators to look at the possibility of animal cruelty. I spoke with the supervisor, who went to the scene, and he told me that the officer had done absolutely nothing wrong and the cat was fine.

The news media got involved and aired Michael’s efforts to rescue Brutis. Due to the publicity received, the police department began to receive negative phone calls and emails attacking the officer. The officer even had derogatory things written on his sidewalk.

On Dec. 29, Brutis was still in the tree. That was when Toni Smith and Terry Toman who are with Citizens for North Phoenix Strays decided to try to get the cat down.

“There’s some friction here between these neighbors and I said I could care less about the people I just want to go up and get the cat,” said Smith.

Smith and Toman said they chose to go behind the home on a public sidewalk and lean a 25-foot ladder against the cop’s back wall. In this way, they figured they were not on his property. Just as they were about to get the cat, Smith said, “This guy comes barreling out of his house, flashed his gun and his badge, and started screaming and freaking out.” Toman added, “It’s a little overkill”. They had to retreat without the cat.

Both Smith and Toman said they were willing to sign a waiver guaranteeing they would not sue the officer if they should hurt themselves while rescuing Brutis.

“Its just a cat in the tree. Why can’t we just go there and get the cat and move on” said Toni Smith.

The next day Dec. 30, possibly due to all the attention, Phoenix Police Officers from the Desert Horizon Precinct obtained a large ladder and with several officers securing the ladder, one climbed up the ladder and removed the cat from the tree. Brutis the cat appeared in excellent condition and was returned to its owner. Michael said Brutis is a bit tired, scared and skinnier after 9 days in the tree, but by all accounts appears okay.

“I’m pretty happy, he lost a lot of weight up there, he was a little chubby when he went up and he’s kind of  boney now,” Michael said.

Michael said he has no hard feelings for the people who own the tree the cat was stuck in, he’s just glad to have Brutis safely home.

“He wasn’t allowed out in the first place…specifically for this kind of reason,” Michael said. “And I don’t ever want him to get out again. I’d like to think he learned his lesson, but he’s probably not that smart. He couldn’t figure out how to get out the tree.”

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