HOPKINS, SC (WIS) - Jessie is a five-week-old kitten curiosity almost killed.
"I mean, just look at him. It's just amazing to see him," said Eldad Hagar, as he cradled the playful meowing kitten Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday morning, Jessie was in a much different predicament: 43 feet below ground, stuck in a four-inch pipe, and suffering there for five days near a home off Leesburg Road in Hopkins.
Repeat desperate cries for help from the well caught the attention of a nearby homeowner who reached out to a number of animal rescuers, including Eldad
Hagar and Loreta Frankonyte. Both wanted to help. The only problem? They live in Los Angeles.
"Initially, I didn't even think of jumping on an airplane and coming over. I just gave her ideas on how to get it done. But then, I heard there were other attempts to save him and it created even more obstacles," said Hagar, the founder of Hope for Paws.
So, the two didn't chance it. In just 15 hours, after a red-eye flight to Charlotte, both were in the Midlands and time was of the essence.
"While I'm a very positive person, I was really – on the inside – I was just praying he was going to make it to the hospital," said Frankonyte.
With the help of a local plumber from Freedom Plumbing, and with skills straight from an episode of MacGyver, they pulled it off using a bit of rope and an overwhelming amount of patience, precision, and creativity.
Before they arrived, the homeowner crafted slender sticks into a makeshift ladder for the kitten, but the stick broke and partially blocked the already narrow well. Using fishing supplies, rescuers removed the stick and then, with the plumber's help, lowered a camera into the hole to expose a wet, cold, crying kitten.
In less than an hour, thanks to the camera and a looped rope, the kitten was out. Hagar guesses the tiny cat was probably just an hour away from certain death.
"That moment where I got him and I was able to secure him, I almost couldn't believe it. Like I pulled him a little bit, and I'm like, 'Oh my God! I do have him!'" said Hagar. "It was almost like being a doctor and delivering a baby because he came from that pipe!"
"I don't know how many lives he has, but he's the luckiest cat in the world," added Frankonyte.
The kitten was shivering and in very poor shape moments after the rescue, but a day later, he's playful and full of life.
Despite the expenses, the travel, the nerves, both say none of those difficulties even come close to the joy they're feeling now.
"You can tell your wife and your children about something that you've done today that had a meaning," said Hagar, as the kitten purred happily in his lap.
On Wednesday, the kitten will head to Los Angeles with the two rescuers. Both wager the feline will have a forever home very soon.
Both said they're extremely grateful for Freedom Plumbing of Lexington, their friend, Kimberly Cockrell, and the donors who make their rescue work possible.