SeeSnake Catches Cat

SeeSnake Catches Cat
Matt Mertz and his wife, Lisa, outside the company shop in Pittsburgh. Mertz handles everything from general plumbing service to pipe relining, along with the occasional cat rescue.

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It wasn’t a leak. It wasn’t a backed-up sewer line. But the callers needed help. Fast.

“They were panicked, and everyone was standing around the pipe,” explains Matt Mertz, owner and president of Matt Mertz Plumbing. “No one could figure out what to do.” Even the fire department didn’t have any luck.

The source of all the worry was a furry gray kitten named Emerald that had crawled down a broken drainline while playing with a young girl. Without help, it just couldn’t make its way back out.

To the rescue

The call came in as Mertz was driving home at the end of the day. Within 20 minutes he was on site at the local subdivision, taking a look at the hole that had already been dug and the section of pipe that had already been cut out by a couple of concerned community members.

The pipe was a piece of 18-inch corrugated plastic, with a lid that landscapers had previously broken and never repaired. Using flashlights, they were unable to catch a glimpse of Emerald, so Mertz grabbed his RIDGID SeeSnake with a 200-foot reel and small, collapsible monitor to peer in farther.

About 100 feet in it was possible to see the cat’s eyes, but nothing more. He continued to advance the camera to get a better image, and eventually to encourage the cat to run in the other direction.

“It was on a steep grade,” Mertz says. “There was no way the cat could come back up. It had to go down.” After 15 or 20 minutes of finessing the camera, Emerald finally made her way to the point where the pipe would typically discharge — the grate had been removed to allow her to escape.

“We went in there and kind of saved the day for that little girl,” Mertz says. “The cat lived, and everyone was happy.” The girl’s dad offered up a handshake and both the little girl and her mom gave Mertz a hug.

Good deed dividends

When the homeowners’ association representative said they’d be happy to take the bill, Mertz said there wouldn’t be one. When the family tried to hand Mertz some cash for a job well done he declined as well, asking that they simply keep him in mind for future work or refer his company when others are searching for plumbing help.

Shortly after the encounter, the homeowners’ association hired him to make the small repair to the pipe. To get the job done, Mertz put his Milwaukee Sawzall and Bosch Bulldog demolition hammer with a shovel blade to work.

Since that time, Matt Mertz Plumbing has been the go-to company for that same family and homeowners’ association, and they have gained several additional clients within that subdivision as well. “I’ve made thousands of dollars just for that little good deed,” he says. “It definitely paid off that way. I believe in karma. It comes around.”

Mertz — who first started off on his own in 2004, incorporated in 2007, and has since grown his business to a total of 36 employees — notes that sometimes doing something for nothing pays off over the long haul. “It’s not always about the money,” he says. “It’s about the relationships that you gain throughout the years.

“You help somebody out one day, and it just pays dividends going forward,” he adds. “They’re going to remember that good deed. It’s not about how much you made that one day. It’s a long-term thing. It’s more of a marathon and not a race.”


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