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Rescue mission turns into new family member for Cumming officer
Howard Corrigan
Howard Corrigan, a city of Cumming police officer, rescued a kitten from an engine bay, and decided to keep it as his own. -Photo courtesy Cumming Police Department

This article appears in the August issue of 400 Life magazine.


Howard Corrigan heard the animal call from dispatch, which he would have usually ignored; the fire department takes care of those. But the city of Cumming police officer was in the area, so he decided to check it out.  

Corrigan arrived at the scene to find a driver parked on the side of the road. The vehicle’s hood was open. Inside, hiding against the firewall of the engine bay, was an animal — a kitten, and an elusive one, too. 

“We finally got him out of the engine bay,” Corrigan said, “and he hit the ground running.” 

The Forsyth County Fire Department and Animal Control eventually arrived and, after a brief “kitten pursuit,” secured the little frightened one.  

The kitten would have a rough couple of weeks ahead of it, but Corrigan was already thinking ahead. 

“As soon as I met him, I wanted him,” he said. “I don’t know, it was just something about him.” 

Three weeks later, the little one has a name — Smokey — and a new family — the Corrigans. 

The Corrigans have been getting to know their newest member since July 9, when Smokey was finally healthy enough to leave Animal Control. Turns out he was in bad shape — he had an upper respiratory infection and ear mites, Corrigan said.  

After two weeks of medicine, Smokey gained two pounds, and the Corrigans brought him home.  

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kitten

Corrigan said Smokey has fit right in. He already knows to use the litter box and loves to bat around 10-year-old son Collin’s nerf gun darts. 

“I think he plays with my son’s toys more than my son does,” Corrigan said. 

The Corrigans haven’t been the biggest pet family. They love dogs, but Howard is “deathly allergic,” he said. They’ve taken in strays from time to time, but nothing permanent. Collin has a fish, but their family’s last pet, a cat named Callie, went missing and never came back about a year after the family moved to the area from New York in 2014. 

When Corrigan encountered Smokey that day, he tried to call his wife. He felt this all-gray cat, that one of the firefighters said “looked like a Smokey,” needed to come home with them. She didn’t answer.  

Corrigan showed his family pictures of the cat later. 

“When Collin saw Smokey, he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s get him, let’s get him,’” Corrigan said. “‘Let’s give him a good home.’” 

No one is sure how Smokey ended up in that vehicle. While Corrigan lived in New York, he worked for the New York City Fire Department, and it was common for animals to hide in the engine bay of a vehicle to escape the cold during winter. It was in the 90s the day they found Smokey. 

“I think something spooked him,” Corrigan said, “and that was just where he ran into. I think he got in there and just couldn’t find a way out.” 

But the Corrigan family is grateful Smokey found a way into their family, and he gives much of the credit to the firefighters and Animal Control that helped that day. 

“We truly all came together and rescued him,” Corrigan said. “It just so happens that I was the one that wanted to keep him.”