By LINDA CHION KENNEY
An unfortunate situation for a lucky feline led to a pet adoption by a quick-thinking county employee on the job in Hillsborough County in June.
According to county officials, fortune smiled on the kitten in question after it unwittingly stowed away in the undercarriage of a county car enroute from Ruskin to Tampa on Sunday, June 12.
That’s when Louis Perea, a 14-year veteran with Hillsborough County Fleet Management, answered the call concerning the unexpected stowaway.
As reported, David Ramirez, an athletics manager with Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, believed he heard a cat’s meowing when he stepped out of the county vehicle he had been driving from a convenience store in Ruskin to the Skyway Sports Complex in Tampa.
Ramirez said he was “looking at the radio, wondering where this meowing is coming from,” when he completed his roughly 30-mile drive from Ruskin to the sports complex at 4095 George Road. The complex, roughly 5 miles from Tampa International Airport, sports baseball and football fields, picnic shelters, tennis courts, restrooms, a playground and concession stand, according to county officials.
Eventually, Ramirez heard the sound again and realized what had happened, that “he had a stowaway cat somewhere in the body of his Ford Escape,” according to the county report.
It’s believed that the kitten crawled inside the vehicle when Ramirez stopped at the convenience store in Ruskin. Upon arrival at the Skyway Sports Complex, Ramirez said he could hear the cat but could not find it.
On duty that day, Perea, the owner of two dogs and two cats himself, answered the call for assistance. Upon arrival at the scene, he heard the kitten for himself and decided emergency action was warranted. He quickly got to work.
Reasoning that the kitten was underneath the engine compartment, Perea first took off the headlights, then the bumper, then the fender.
“By the time Perea could reach the kitten, much of the front part of the car was dismantled and lying in the parking lot,” according to county officials. Putting on a work glove, and with the assistance of another employee, Perez was able to grab the kitten, noting that while the cat looked okay, he was “very small and scared.”
What better way to end the story than with a happy ending, which came to pass when the lucky kitten got a new home, along with a clean bill of health from an attending veterinarian who pegged the feline’s age at six weeks.
“This guy’s a little survivor,” said Perea, now the owner of two dogs and three cats, and with quite a tale to tell.
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