By Gabriel Rom
After rescuing Kit Kat, an injured cat, from a burning home in Glendale, the 104th Police Precinct is getting national recognition from an unlikely place.
Last week, PETA, a national animal advocacy organization, bestowed the men and women of the 104th with the Compassionate Police Department Award. As a further token of the group’s appreciation, a box of vegan cookies is also in the mail.
“We hope your team’s effort will inspire others to come to the aid of animals in need,” the letter from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk read. “Thank you again for your compassion.”
The award also comes after the 104th rescued another cat stuck in a sewer main earlier in November. Officers opened the main and found the cat, which was hidden from sight.
For Mark Wachter, captain of the 104th, saving animals is part and parcel of being a New York City cop.
“To be recognized by an organization as large as PETA is good for the precinct and good for the department,” he said. “It’s not about cops and robbers all the time. We are here to help everybody, from the littlest cat to whoever else is in distress.”
A picture of the distressed feline receiving oxygen from an officer from the 104th went viral on Twitter, showing the public a gentler side to daily police work.
“A lot of people like cats apparently,” Wachter said laughing.
Wachter announced the award at the precinct’s daily roll call and said that especially around the holiday season, the rescue story boosted officer morale.
“It shows the officers that the small actions that we do can have a real positive effect,” he said.
Some 60 firefighters and police officers responded to the fire at 88th Street, near 81st Avenue. Along with firefighters, Officer Lewis from the 104th resuscitated Kit Kat with small a breathing unit on the sidewalk after she passed out from smoke inhalation. Kit Kat was then put in a special oxygen chamber and rushed to a veterinary hospital, along with another feline survivor, Jinx.
One of the cats was saved after being spotted under a pile of moving laundry, while the other was found huddled next to a TV set. A third family cat, Bo, was found dead in a bathroom.
The two lucky cats are in good health and have been reunited with their owner, officials at a BluePearl Veterinary hospital in Forest Hills confirmed.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@