by Lt. Chris Piombo – Lodi PD
Back in the old days, police officers had to deal with animal calls after hours when the shelter was closed. We didn’t receive any formal training on how to deal with animals so we pretty much had to rely on our extensive experience raising puppies and hamsters when we were kids. Unfortunately most of the animals we dealt with were not puppies or hamsters.
One animal call stands out. It was the night I battled a cat from the underworld. I was sent to Edgewood Drive on a call of a stray cat stuck in a house. The homeowner opened the front door and I saw he had a terrified look on his face. Mouth open, eyes bugged out, sweaty. I should have used my cool cop skills to pick up on his bad mojo and called for backup. I failed to do so and got sucked into the fatal funnel.
The homeowner ushered me into the dining room and I realized immediately I was in over my head. The cat was jet black, he was missing an ear and an eye, and he was hissing as he jumped, no lie, five feet in the air. He jumped up and down over and over again until he got caught high up on the curtains. He just hung there, plotting my demise. Black cat, hissing, weird contortions, uncatlike strength, missing body parts? I concluded the cat was possessed by some demonic entity that specializes in felines. “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Or the Lodi Police Department.
I went back outside and sheepishly drew my snare from the trunk of my patrol car. A snare is a long silver pole with a loop on the end of it. I paused to prepare myself mentally, physically, and spiritually to do battle with the demon cat.
I found him under the table, flat on his back with his legs out to the side and his eye closed. He was trying to fake me out. I tried not to make any noise as I gingerly maneuvered the long snare through the chairs near the table. My heart was beating like I was trying to defuse a mine in the middle of the road. I slipped the loop around the cat’s neck and he exploded back to life. We pulled each other back and forth across the room. He was so cocky he smiled at me at one point. The homeowner started videotaping us so he could show the fight on Pay-Per-View. I was blinded by sweat and embarrassment.
I eventually conquered the wicked feline and took him out to my patrol car. Usually we transported animals to the shelter in the backseat area of our cars. Since I feared for my physical well-being and my eternal soul, I put the cat in the trunk.
I parked in the shelter lot and tried to gather my wits. I distinctly remember the click as I used my key to open the trunk. Then boom! The cat burst from the trunk and sprinted across Kettleman Lane. With the snare still around his neck. The cat just ran off with that big old pole around his neck. I stood there, shocked. It was not of this world.
He made it down to the edge of the irrigation canal. I slipped in the mud as I worked my way down to him. It was cold and dark and scary. The thought flashed through my mind how embarrassing it would be to fall into the canal and drown while I was stalking a cat. I said forget it and drove off.
I reached the station and a seasoned lieutenant asked me what happened. I told him the tale, leaving out the less than flattering parts. When I finished my yarn, he just sat there staring at me for what seemed like an hour. I could hear the second hand from the clock in his office going, “tick…tick…tick.” It was the sound of my career coming to an end. He eventually said coldly, “Don’t come back without the snare.” I wearily headed back out for the final battle with my furry foe.
It was midnight and the winter moon was out. My possessed enemy tried to hide but I could see his red eye glowing in the darkness. Sort of like the Terminator. I pushed my way through the berry bushes and grabbed onto the snare. I escorted my prisoner across the street and placed him in a maximum security cell. I proudly presented the snare to the lieutenant. He just snorted and went back to rejecting my reports. I battled valiantly and defeated the demon cat alone on that cold dark night so many years ago. My reward? I still endure the taunts — or catcalls, if you will — of my fellow officers to this day.