When a cat goes missing for two years, it’s easy to give up hope.
Debbi Hogg of Charlotte’s StoneCrest community did not, however, and her stubbornness paid off this week when county officials called to report her long-missing cat, Joey, had mysteriously resurfaced.
He had been found nearly 20 miles from his home.
“Miracles happen. I was shaking and tearing up on the drive to get him,” says Hogg. “It had gotten to the point that I thought he was either dead or someone else had picked him up and kept him.”
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It’s easy to imagine (or hope) their reunion in the lobby of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control was emotional, with Joey leaping into her arms and nuzzling her neck.
But cats are..., well, cats.
“He recognized me,” Hogg says, as if that’s the best a cat lover can hope for. “When I was able to take him out of the crate, he was very affectionate. He has slept with me every night and when I walk in the door, he’s right there at my feet, rubbing up against me, meowing.”
To say the two were close is putting it mildly. She got Joey when he was 6-weeks-old, and he was the pampered baby in a house with six cats.
His disappearance was not a matter of running away. Joey got locked out of the house in the garage one morning, and the garage door was open. It wasn’t until Hogg got home that afternoon that she realized her “baby” was missing.
That was Easter Sunday of 2015. Hogg began a two-year search that included posting notes on Web sites, hanging signs on telephone poles and cruising around StoneCrest. “I ended up finding every black cat in the 28277 area code, but Joey,” she says. “And I found homes for all those other cats.”
So how was Joey found?
A kindly woman who lived two miles north of the Arboretum found him at her doorstep on May 11. She fed him and noticed that he was affectionate at every opportunity. She brought him to Animal Care & Control May 15. The agency checked Joey for an identification microchip, and found contact information that led to Hogg that same day.
Melissa Knicely at Animal Care & Control says it’s not unusual for her agency to reunite pets and owners thanks to microchips. In 2016, the agency used the chips to return 19 cats and 914 dogs to owners.
Past reunions have included pets missing as long as five years, she says. In one case, a dog found in Charlotte had gone missing in New York. In another, the dog’s owner was in New Mexico, she says.
“The owners are flabbergasted,” said Knicely. “Can you imagine having your pet back after it has been lost five years? I have more fear of losing a pet than having one die. If a pet passes away, you have closure. If you lose it, you always wonder if it’s still out there somewhere, lost.”
She believes Joey may have been adopted by a neighborhood, which is common for stray cats. In such cases, homeowners take pity, leaving out food and water and the cats thrive without a home, she says.
Hogg says what happened to her should give hope to owners of lost pets. Joey not only came home, but he’s in good health. Countless dangers were faced, including coyotes and traffic, but he some how made it without a single scar, she says.
“For those of you still looking for your fur baby, never give up,” Hogg says. “And please, everyone get your babies chipped. If it was not for the chip I would not have him now!”
Want a microchip?
To find out more about the pet microchip program, check out: http://charlottenc.gov/animalscmpd/
To register a microchip already in a pet, go to http://charlottenc.gov/animalscmpd/Pages/default.aspx