Cats to the avalanche rescue
Today, The Daily What featured the Fernie, B.C.-based Canadian Avalanche Cat Rescue Association (CARCA) as the true story of a group attempting to train cats to rescue people buried in avalanches. CARCA’s website states: “We feel that with proper training, cats can be just as effective—and in some cases, more effective—than dogs, and certainly more effective than traditional probe line techniques.”
Upon discovering CARCA I freaked out and immediately called colleagues over to marvel at my discovery. Most of us cat owners are aware of their indifference and refusal to follow commands, but I retain hope that cats care about us and would totally dig me out. But I must report that CARCA is a joke. I was first tipped off when I couldn’t find any videos of cats actually saving people, and again when I read about the association’s “history:”
“Driven by his own avalanche experience and love of cats, Steve worked for several years to convince other patrollers that an avalanche rescue cat program may be possible. By 2008, words finally became action as Steve had convinced a small group of visionary ski patrollers begin the first CARCA training session. The initial euphoria was short-lived however, as after months of frustration, ridicule and many hundreds of small lacerations, all but Steve have given up.
Presently, things have improved dramatically. Steve and Tim have recently been successful in rescuing a live avalanche victim on their first operation together. Hoping to build on the momentum generated by this historic event, Steve hopes to expand the CARCA program to the point where every ski resort is equipped with a CARCA trained cats and handler team.”
The website was created to promote an 8-minute mockumentary (trailer) that ran with the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour. Steve Ruskay, the star of the film, told The Whig Standard: “A few years ago, some of us were just joking about having avalanche rescue cats and then, we sort of came up with an idea for this movie (as) a spoof on (rescue) dogs. So far, people are really liking it.”
And why wouldn’t they? Being dug up by a cat would be an adorable solution to a terrifying and potentially life-threatening situation! Alas, it will probably never happen.
The good news is that you can still amuse yourself by watching a cat during “basic training,” perusing CARCA applicants, purchasing the documentary, and/or having a right sexy heart in buying a CARCA T-shirt.
This article was originally published on April 17, 2012