Ferret owner cuts holes in walls to find furry friend during 24-hour rescue attempt

A Charlottetown pet owner is breathing easy after his ferret freed itself from inside the walls of his home — a rescue that spanned over 24 hours, included damage to the home and finding a surprise leak.

Mindy the ferret is a serial offender of sorts, as her owner James Howatt will tell you. She sometimes finds crevices in the home where she can weasel her way in the walls to explore, where she'll stay for minutes or even hours at a time.

"But this time she wasn't coming out," Howatt said, after Mindy went into the wall through a hole near the dryer vent. "Not always hearing the scratching behind the wall and not knowing if she was OK, I started to panic."

He took to social media asking for help and many Islanders chimed in with suggestions.

James Howatt

Treats didn't work. Cat food didn't work. No amount of luring Mindy out would work. He even cut five large holes in the walls with box cutters and a saw, peering in and searching for the ferret with little luck. His uncle and a few others even showed up to help, he said, and a repairman tried to help as well.

Eventually Howatt rented a snake camera from a local company. It allowed him to see, through the use of a monitor, in tight spaces that are difficult for humans to reach — like deep into the walls of the home.

What happened next was like "something out of a movie," he said.

Suddenly, Mindy appears

Exhausted after spending over 24 hours worrying about the pet, he decided to give the snake another shot. 

James Howatt

He ran the camera through the wall and his eyes were darting back and forth between the monitor and the wall before he spotted little Mindy on the floor in the hallway in full sprint.

"I didn't know if my mind was playing tricks on me, I was delirious, I hadn't slept, and I was trying to search for answers in anything, so when I saw her running behind the [monitor] in the hallway, I just couldn't get up fast enough," he said.

He got up and ran after her, picking her up and checking her over. She was absolutely fine.

"It was like a lot of weights coming off my chest at once," Howatt said. 

'It kind of worked out well'

Now that she's safe, the next step is to make the walls ferret-proof, which isn't an easy task.

James Howatt

They're working to seal up the holes in the wall, and fix the door to the basement so it can stay closed and Mindy can't go near the dryer vent.

"She still, every day, surprises me and shows me places that I thought ferrets could never get into," he said. "They're just very intelligent creatures."

A silver lining in Mindy's adventure is that the repairman who'd helped out found that some insulation in the home was wet and needs to be replaced, he said.

"It kind of worked out well, in one way," Howatt said. "There was a leak coming from somewhere so I guess I found a repair that needed to be fixed."

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