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Man cuts open truck to save kitten

By Daphne Sashin, CNN
June 15, 2014 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Vero Beach, Florida, man heard purring from his truck
  • He sliced the truck bed to try to get the tiny animal out
  • Local Humane Society staff members helped finish the job
  • Donors have now offered to fix the man's truck

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(CNN) -- A hitchhiking feline in Florida has a 50-year-old truck owner to thank for her unusual rescue.

Errand Frazier of Vero Beach wasn't quite sure what to do at first when he heard purring coming from his Chevy pickup, parked outside his house in late May. He couldn't see anything and wasn't sure exactly where it was, or even what type of animal was in there. So, he left an open can of cat food under one of the tires and set up a camera to try to get to the bottom of it.

When he came back the next morning, the food was gone, but there was nothing on the video, he said.

Thinking he had lost his mind, he went on an impromptu fishing trip to clear his head. When he got to the canal, the purring started again.

Taking matters into his own hands, he reached for his toolbox, took out some sheet metal cutters and cut back the metal on the side of the truck bed. As he peeled it back, he spotted a kitten.

Errand Frazier shows where he cut open his pickup truck to rescue a kitten.
Errand Frazier shows where he cut open his pickup truck to rescue a kitten.

"I seen this little rascal peeking at me," Frazier recalled. "I said, 'What in the world? You hitched a ride!'"

Frazier hadn't thought anything of slicing into his truck. He and his wife, Cindy, have a dog and two cats, and care deeply about animals. In the past, Frazier said, he has rescued stray kittens and brought them to the local Humane Society.

Frazier could see that the cat was under the bed of his truck, lodged in the frame, and he couldn't get to it. Unsure what to do, he sought advice from the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County. Driving slowly, avoiding any bumps in the road, he reached the society's animal shelter and approached a staff member.

Kitten rescued from car engine

"I said, 'Ma'am, there's a kitten that hitchhiked from my home and I can't get it,"" Frazier said. "She said, 'Man, you did a job on your truck.'"

Deputy uses oxygen mask to save kitten

It was a team rescue. Humane Society staff member Tonya Martinez got under Frazier's truck to try to move the kitten forward, while staff member Maria Valencia put on gloves to catch the kitty and animal care supervisor Robyn Krajewski stood ready with a special carrier, said Janet Winikoff, director of education at the local Humane Society, who posted the story on CNN iReport.

The shelter, which estimates the kitten was about 8 weeks old, named her Megan.

A week after the rescue, the shelter invited Frazier for a reunion. The kitten purred in his arms. He took it as a sign.

"It was almost telling me, 'Thank you for saving my life,'" he said.

The cat has since been adopted by a family with two teenage girls, adoption counselor Sue Kelly said.

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After Winikoff shared the story of the rescue on the shelter's Facebook page this week, several people offered to help pay for the cost to repair Frazier's vehicle. On Friday, the Humane Society set up a special "kitty truck fund" to help Frazier. Winikoff said they didn't yet have an estimate for the repairs and any extra money would go into a special emergency fund in Frazier's name to help other animals in similar situations.

Frazier's wife, Cindy, said they were touched by the outpouring of support. The truck is their only vehicle. She said it didn't cross their mind to look into repairing it because she knew they couldn't afford it. Both have disabilities; Errand Frazier has macular degeneration, but still has the ability to drive during the day. On Friday, the couple said they weren't worried about the truck and hoped people would just donate to the humane society to help other animals.

"We really never expected all of this, to be honest, but God does blessings every day," Cindy Frazier said. "That's the reason that little kitten just showed up here -- because God knew we would do whatever we needed to do to make sure that kitten was safe."

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