It was one of the strangest calls a Minot police officer had ever experienced.
Aaron Moss, Minot PD, was among those who responded to a call shortly after 8:45 a.m. Monday of a cat frozen to a rock in northwest Minot.
"It was the first cat stuck to a rock call that I've ever taken in my 10 years of experience in law enforcement with the Minot Police Department," said Moss.
This cat was rescued Monday morning after becoming frozen to the side of a backyard fish pond. The cat died later Monday.
It appeared that the cat had fallen into a small backyard pond while either watching or fishing for goldfish. When the cat attempted to climb out of the water it quickly became frozen to a flat rock that was part of the landscape edging of the pond. The temperature at the time was 21 degrees below zero. A submersible heater was being used to keep the pond from freezing.
"When I got out there I didn't even see the cat because it was so frosted," said Tanya Tremblay, animal control officer. "It started meowing at me. All of its limbs were frozen to a rock and it was kind of dangling into the pond. Clearly you could see injuries on its legs where it was struggling trying to rip itself off the rock."
Tremblay requested assistance from other officers who responded promptly, bringing some hot water with them. The water was used to free the cat from its frozen predicament. The cat was then placed in a small carry kennel and taken to the Core Animal Hospital of Minot for evaluation.
Initially it seemed the incident would have a happy ending. However, the cat's injuries and harsh exposure to sub-zero temperatures proved to be too much to survive. The homeowner believed the cat could have been frozen to the rock for as long as three hours before it was discovered.
"The cat call was different. Things like that don't usually happen," said Tremblay, who said she believed the animal was a feral cat trying to survive the winter outdoors. The cat had no identification.
Tremblay suggested Minot citizens should "check garages and everything" for stray animals trying to escape the cold because severe winter weather can be as stressful for animals as it is for people.
In addition to the rescued cat, Tremblay transported a great-horned owl to the Core Veterinary Clinic Monday morning. Tremblay said she used a net to capture the owl near the Pizza Hut on North Broadway. Unlike the cat, the owl was not frozen in place. Rather it had sustained an injury which rendered it flightless.
"You can clearly see that there is an injury to one of its wings," said Tremblay while observing the owl inside a small kennel. "It might have been hit by a vehicle or something. That's not something you can really control."
North Dakota Game and Fish was contacted regarding the owl, which is a protected species. The owl was to be examined by a veterinarian to determine the extent of its injuries. Depending upon the severity of the injuries, birds of prey are sometimes sent to a recovery center in Minnesota in the hopes of eventually being released back into the wild. No further details on the condition of the owl were available Monday afternoon.