Not all heroes wear capes – some wear helmets and gloves.
Ross Wilkinson is an arborist and tree risk assessor, but that’s only his day job. In his spare time, he uses his skills to rescue cats from trees across Greater Victoria.
“I’ve always had cats growing up, and people would always phone the office and ask for help and I’d say yes,” Wilkinson said. “I just enjoy doing it, being a cat person.”
Wilkinson said he doesn’t ask for payment for the job and is just happy to see people reunited with their furry family members.
When cats get stuck in trees, the cliche is to call the fire department, but Wilkinson said that’s not a realistic solution.
“Fire departments don’t actually do that, it’s a misconception,” he said. “They’ll do it in extraordinary situations, but most of the time cats get stuck in backyards.”
Wilkinson said he gets called from a few times per month to once every six weeks and estimates that he’s saved a couple dozen cats since he moved to Canada from Scotland six years ago.
He’s had many memorable encounters, including an “epic” scene with a dispute between neighbours when the cat was intruding on another’s property.
“The police were involved because the people didn’t get along,” Wilkinson said. “It was pretty funny because it really takes 10 minutes for me to get the cat down.”
His favourite, however, was rescuing a young cat from a 100-foot tree.
“The people who phoned me, it wasn’t even their cat … but they were almost in tears when I got it down,” he said, adding that they were so grateful they found every piece of cash they had. “It was a funny amount, like $46.25.”
Wilkinson said he registered with a Seattle-based online registry of cat rescuers, catinatreerescue.com, and believes that’s how most people find him.
“People are always amazed, but it’s so easy for me to do,” Wilkinson said. “I do much harder stuff.”
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