Dakota Worrell of Pocatello, Idaho, believes that the bond he and his girlfriend share with their beloved pet is priceless — a sentiment many a pet owner would agree with.
So when it came down to it and he realized that his cat, Panther, was missing, he offered a $5,000 reward for her return, according to the Idaho State Journal.
Panther, a black cat with green eyes, belongs to Worrell and his girlfriend, Hannah Green. When Panther didn’t show up for breakfast on Friday, they knew something was up.
Worrell and Green canvassed the neighborhood, posted signs and followed up on around 30 leads — but only one turned up any further information, and it wasn’t reassuring.
One neighbor directed them to a local woman who’d been trapping cats and dumping them miles away. She said that yes, she had trapped Panther, and she’d dumped the cat near the city’s Ross Park.
Based on comments on the Idaho State Journal’s story about Panther, trapping pets and moving them is common in the area. The city used to spay and neuter feral cats that residents trapped and then rerelease them, but it hasn’t offered that for a while — and yet the trapping and relocating of both ferals and pets has continued, thanks to some residents.
Worrell and Green continued the search, heartened by the many kind locals who joined in the hunt for Panther.
“[I] was looking for panther at 2am for an hour or so with my roommates in the rain,” one person commented.
“I have lived in so many communities,” Worrell said, “and I can’t think of one place where that would have happened.”
But two days passed with no real sighting or lead on the cat, and Worrell was worried.
“I knew every day that went by the chances of finding her decreased substantially,” he said.
At some point over the weekend, a family in Tyhee spotted a new face on their property. A black cat with green eyes came up to a girl and put its head in her lap.
The dad thought the cat was probably yet another feral, which makes sense given that the photo of the cat shows that it has a notched ear (a mark often used to show which feral cats have been spayed or neutered). But then he saw a photo of her staring back at him from an article, saying there was a large reward for the return of that particular cat.
On Sunday night, Worrell got a call from the family, and soon the couple and their cat were reunited.
The reward couldn’t have gone to a better recipient, either. The dad said that it would significantly help out with car and house bills that they’ve fallen behind on.
While this story has a happy ending, many are now calling for the woman who trapped the cat to be slapped with charges of some sort. While trapping on personal property is allowable (within certain guidelines), trapped cats are required to be turned over to animal services — otherwise, the trapper could be facing “up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.”
According to a comment from Worrell, the woman who trapped the cat hasn’t been home in days.
“[S]he literally has not been home since,” he wrote. “It’s been 3 days now … we also filed a civil suit, to collect the reward money back as well as to represent the other families still missing their pets.”
In the comments section for the article, Worrell has also offered to send lunch or a meal to many of the people who helped search for Panther.
While it is also against the city code to have cats “at large,” there are better ways to deal with problem animals than trapping them and dumping them elsewhere. Hopefully, this city can resolve its problems without any more missing pets.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.