Thawing a cat that was frozen for hours to a dock earns Kentucky sheriff an award

Praise continues for Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty, who rescued this cat that was frozen to a dock in Kentucky.
Praise continues for Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty, who rescued this cat that was frozen to a dock in Kentucky. WKYT

Saving a cat that was frozen to a boat dock has earned Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty recognition from an animal-rights organization.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has given Kelty a “Compassionate Police Department Award.”

On Jan. 2, Kelty was in the Burgin area when he received a call about a cat that appeared to be frozen to the deck of a private boat dock on Herrington Lake. Temperatures were in the single digits that day.

Kelty went to the home of Roy and Loretta Jasper and found a long-haired cat less than a year old stuck to the dock’s metal surface. Taking the advice of a local fire department captain, Kelty poured some warm water on the dock to loosen the cat’s feet. Initially, the cat wasn’t too welcoming.

“When I first got there, he had an attitude, but I guess I would have had an attitude, too, if I’d been stuck on that dock all night,” Kelty said. “But I kept talking to him and petting on him and I guess, in my opinion, he just realized I was there to help.

“He was a long-furred kitten, and he had ice all over him,” Kelty said. “And the fur had also stuck to the side of the dock, so I had to, just real easy, go along the edge of him pulling that fur away from that dock. And he just lay there and let me do it.”

When the cat was finally free, Kelty tucked him into the pocket of his sweatshirt and headed back to the Jaspers’ house. They wrapped the cat in a towel and took him inside to get warm.

The next day, the Jaspers let Kelty know that they had named the cat Ernie in honor of his rescuer. Kelty, 57, has been sheriff seven years, and before that, he was chief of the Harrodsburg Police Department for 12 years.

“Sheriff Kelty had the kindness and patience that it took to save this cat from freezing to death alone on a dock,” PETA vice president Colleen O’Brien said in a statement. “His namesake is now safe and warm indoors, and PETA hopes little Ernie’s story will inspire everyone to look out for animals in need, especially during the dangerous winter months.”

PETA said the sheriff’s office will receive a framed certificate, “a box of delicious vegan cookies” and a letter of congratulations. The compassionate police department award is given out about once a week.

Meanwhile, Kelty had his own cold-weather mishap: While responding to a traffic accident Monday, he slipped on some ice and injured a knee. “I’m going to be OK,” he said.