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Dog, kitten saved in separate rescues on Long Island

A kitten found itself stuck in a storm

A kitten found itself stuck in a storm drain on Brooksite Drive in Hauppauge on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Two SWAT officers who responded lifted the storm drain grate, but the noise drove the kitten further into the drain. The feline was eventually rescued by Ken Rybacki Jr., a tenant of an adjacent office building. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Two little critters trembled and cried Monday like the law was after them — and it was.

A beige Shih Tzu or Lhasa apso mix, first spotted swimming in a Freeport canal Saturday before disappearing, ended up hidden on the floats under a residential dock, where he was nabbed Monday morning by a resident as police and firefighters prepared to mount a rescue.

"I crawled in there — I got a little belly these days but I'm not fat — but it was just enough space for me to get in there," said Robert Ingin, who discovered the canine hideaway. "He did a little growl thing . . . He looked scared."

Hours later, next to a Hauppauge office building, SWAT officers, an attorney and a state mediator stood over a street grate as a green-eyed boy kitten cried up a storm in the drain, backing away.

"I did look him in the eyes and my heart melted," said attorney Ralph Fresolone, the building's co-owner.

Thwarted, police cordoned off the storm drain and left, but as the exhausted feline gulped cat food thrown down the drain, Ken Rybacki Jr., an arbitrator and office tenant, took off his tie and suit, then went down to grab the cat, the landlord said.

It was like watching a "Superman" at work, Fresolone said.

The lost dog and cat turned into happy tales Monday.

The pooch was temporarily taken in by one of Ingin's neighbors, Ingin said. The cat was picked up by a veterinary practice contracted by Smithtown Town to handle animal cases, Fresolone said.

Ingin, who has two Shih Tzu mixes, kept hearing whimpering noises Monday.

He'd open up his back door to the canal and the noises would stop.

Ingin was fed up enough to walk around the canal to Lester Avenue.

It was at the floating dock he had built years ago for his neighbor across the waters that he heard the noises again.

"I had to put my head almost under water and I saw a little bit of fur," Ingin said. "He was shivering."

Ingin called Freeport Village fire and police departments, then plucked out three deck boards on the 16-foot-long deck.

Ingin maneuvered into the dark gap between the deck and the floats.

A short time later, the dock tipped into the water and the rescue effort stopped, "because I was getting too wet," Ingin said.

The dog was running from one end of the dock to the other, said Sgt. Mike Williams, who stood on the middle of the deck, ready to grab the dog.

He said he could hear Ingin repeat below him, "Don't bite me."

Soon, at about 10:30 a.m., Ingin had the dog by the scruff of his neck and began backing out toward the deck opening.

"I said 'Somebody grab him' and all I saw was a pair of gloves come down the hole," the rescuer recounted. "By the time I got out, everybody was like, 'Good dog, good dog.' "

That was just the first animal rescue of the day.

When a visitor to the Hauppauge office building came at 1 p.m. to report that constant, kittenish cries were coming from the parking area storm drain, the animal lover in Fresolone was pitted against the cat fear in him.

When he got to the storm drain, the meowing kitten "just broke your heart," Fresolone said.

He called police, and two SWAT officers pulled up and lifted the storm drain grate, but the noise drove the kitten further into the storm drain.

Eventually, the officers left the drain partially open so the cat could get out later and put crime tape around the area.

Then around 3:30 p.m., arbitrator Rybacki reported hearing the meowing again, Fresolone said.

Desperate to save the "poor thing," Fresolone said, he and Rybacki threw food down into the drain.

That food distraction gave Rybacki the means to settle the affair by grabbing her. It was about 3:30 p.m., about two hours after the feline rescue campaign began.

The kitten "looked so sublime and happy that it made me feel really good," Fresolone said. "I'm still a little bit afraid of them, but if I have my choice, I still prefer a dog."

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