Alan Fierstein Uses Acoustic Test Gear to Find Molly the Cat
After two weeks of rescue efforts, Molly, the cat that sparked a media
frenzy in New York City was finally pulled out from a spot between two
Greenwich Village buildings.
Click Play button to see WB11 and NBC4 Video
Excerpt: "...he comes along with his equipment...and was able to accurately tell where it was"
The low-key drama, with no end in sight, was playing out in the
basement of Myers of Keswick, a delicatessen where Molly had been
official house mouser until she wandered into a narrow space between
walls and became lost. Mike Pastore, field director for
Animal Care & Control described the space as as "a maze of beams and pipes, going
every which way."
Alan Fierstein of Acoustilog first heard about the story on Friday,
day 14. It was reported by Associated Press that the cat was sending
out distress calls from a few feet or maybe just inches away and
that Molly's meowing could be heard so clearly on the sidewalk
outside the building that it seemed she might be a foot or less inside
the wall, though blocked from view by vertical studs and other
obstructions. When Fierstein stopped by on Friday afternoon, he found
workers concentrating their efforts in the basement, where they had
made numerous holes.
Fierstein said, When I heard that story, I knew from experience
that people often mistake the direction of a source of sound, so I
decided to drop by and give them my card. Mike Pastore was
enthusiastic and asked for my help. I was told that the cat was
suspected of being somewhere in the basement, or possibly in the very
front of the two wooden storefronts on either side of the 6
crawlspace between the two brick buildings. They told me that the cat
meowed every day at 6 PM, so I promised to come back then. I brought a
special blanket to create an-ultra quiet chamber to the crawlspace
that the rescue workers draped around me like a cocoon, and then made
everyone on the sidewalk quiet down. The news media cooperated by
shutting off the generators on their trucks.
Alan Fierstein at work. [Photo by Diane Cohen]
I then used a piece of
acoustic test equipment called the Stethobel, a type of electronic
sound-locator I developed 10 years ago, to quickly rule out the
storefronts and the basement as the source of the meowing. The news
crews loaned me an extension cable and a long telescoping tube so I
could snake my microphone 8 back into the crawlspace. By 7 PM, I told
Mike that the cat was not in the basement and was located deep into
the crawlspace, not right at the front as it had seemed.
Unfortunately, there was a mountain of rubble in that area, from years
of garbage being thrown down between the two buildings. I felt the cat
must be trapped in that area, or perhaps in a brick hole to the right
of the mountain. If it was in the mountain, it could be up near the
top, far from where they had been drilling in the basement.
Left to right:
Josh Shermer of Downtown Pets,
Mike Pastore of Animal Control,
Alan Fierstein of Acoustilog, Inc. [Photo by Diane Cohen]
Armed with that information, rescuers looked backwards, rather than
down or forwards, through a ground level hole in the wall to the
crawlspace. At 8 PM, one of the volunteers spotted Mollys eyes,
moving slightly next to an old gutter pipe lodged between the two
brick walls, high up in the mountain of garbage. This was almost at
the ceiling of the store near the 2nd floor of the building, not near
the basement where they had been looking for 2 weeks.
Fierstein said, I was really afraid of collapsing the rubble on what
must have been, up until then, a just-adequately sized survival space.
I suggested drilling in from the side brick wall to prevent any
Pastore was able to convince the store owner to allow a hole to be
drilled through the inside wall of the shop near the ceiling. It took
Kevin Clifford, one of the volunteers, 2 hours to drill out a single
12 x 24 hole right next to the mountain of garbage. Molly was found
between the drain pipe and the right side of the brick wall. Kevin
grabbed her and pulled her out just after 10 PM. The crowd on the
sidewalk cheered loudly. Her condition was surprisingly good, having
used up only one of her lives, and she ate and drank right away.