When I passed the age of 50, few things surprised me. However, last week I was completely astonished by what I unearthed. An “underground” network of volunteers helps frantic owners find their missing pets.
I knew there were extreme pet lovers in our city, but I was taken aback by their generosity.
This group of cat and dog lovers comes together through several online platforms. Once you enter the underground loop, you’ll discover it’s the same people at each site. These lost-pet finders are dedicated.
Why did I have to research these amazing humans? Because someone in my house let our 5-year-old indoors cat outside… again. Ahem.
Our cat named Vinnie – from the 1990s “My Cousin Vinny” movie – loves a good meal. So when our other cat was chowing down on both portions of breakfast, it was obvious Vinnie was missing.
Since it was Kansas monsoon season, I grabbed my boots and scooted around the yard. I knew in my heart Vinnie was nearby since this cat rarely misses a meal. Except five years ago, when Vinnie escaped on a similar rainy day.
Back then, after a couple of days, we found him in our neighbors’ backyard hiding underneath a wood pallet supporting an enormous garden bin. So I returned to that spot, but no Vinnie.
With it raining cats and dogs (minus the cat) that day and evening, we were sure Vinnie would return home miffed, but he didn’t. I attacked Facebook, Nextdoor.com and e-Neighbors with fervor, hoping some neighbor had information. I received many well wishes, but no leads.
Next came an online tip from the underground that felt like a whisper, while sliding me a $20.
“Have you tried PawBoost.com or the PetFBI?”
Kansas City’s Pawboost has an elite branch called the Rescue Squad. I can only imagine them marching down city sidewalks and through vacant lots, clicking their tongues, with pockets full of cat toys and dog treats. Bless you, Rescue Squad for your unwavering commitment to saving domesticated animals of the world.
Despite the enormity of help found online and a few kind neighbors, day three showed no sign of our boy. Some suggestions: put his favorite stinky cat food on your porch, move the cat’s litter box outside, put up flyers. I chose a stinky can of mackerel bits.
It was finally time to disappoint one of our daughters with the news that her “baby” was missing. She’s a cat lover to the nth degree and we tried to protect her as long as we could.
The PetFBI website had a great lost-pet flyer template, like America’s Most Wanted, but for cats. It looked quite official, with a barcode that linked the reader to your pet’s bio. My girls put up flyers on every mailbox within our subdivision. Unless, Vinnie had a beef with us and hopped a UPS truck to Boise, he wasn’t far away from home. We remained hopeful, until day four came and went with no sign of Vinnie.
Day five started by letting our dog out back for her morning routine. I noticed the smelly cat food had moved overnight. And something had been eating my cat food.
Next the dog’s tush was in the air, tail frantic, with her head squeezed under the porch stairs. A non-timid “meow!” arose from below. Which, interpreted, was, “Dog, get off me and stop licking my head!”
Hurrah, Vinnie was back. Not a scratch on him, although he was a tad parched. If only he could share details of his five-day road trip. Where had he been? What helped him return home?
We’ll never know for certain, but now equipped with a microchip, Vinnie’s escapades have come to an end. I’d like to think it was the underground pet network’s suggestion of leaving out a stinky can of food.
After all, he loves a good meal.
Report a lost or found pet: https://www.pawboost.com
Lost & found database: https://www.pawboost.com/lost-found-pets
Stacey Hatton can be reached at email@example.com.