But when an officer walked into an apartment Thursday night to answer a 911 call, an orange-and-tan striped cat was lying by a telephone on the living room floor. The cat's owner, Gary Rosheisen, was on the ground near his bed having fallen out of his wheelchair.
Rosheisen said his cat, Tommy, must have hit the right buttons to call 911.
"I know it sounds kind of weird," Officer Patrick Daugherty said, unsuccessfully searching for some other explanation.
Rosheisen said he couldn't get up because of pain from osteoporosis and ministrokes that disrupt his balance. He also wasn't wearing his medical-alert necklace and couldn't reach a cord above his pillow that alerts paramedics that he needs help.
Daugherty said police received a 911 call from Rosheisen's apartment, but there was no one on the phone. Police called back to make sure everything was OK, and when no one answered, they decided to check things out.
That's when Daugherty found Tommy next to the phone.
Rosheisen got the cat three years ago to help lower his blood pressure. He tried to train him to call 911, but wasn't sure if the training ever stuck.
The phone in the living room is always on the floor, and there are 12 small buttons - including a speed dial for 911 right above the button for the speakerphone.
"He's my hero," Rosheisen said.