A stowaway orange tabby cat named Kevin traveled across the US undetected until inspectors at the Arizona-California border found him in a U-Haul trailer being towed by a woman who said she had no idea he was on board.
Tiger was discovered by a State Food & Agricultural inspector at the border checkpoint and was taken first to the Riverside County California Animal Services’ Blythe shelter and was then transferred to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms while arrangements were made for his return trip back home to South Carolina.
Tiger’s microchip allowed him to be quickly identified and enabled shelter staff to contact his owner, Cheryl Wallis.
Riverside County Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said in a press release: “His stowaway days ended after a state Food & Agriculture inspector performed a routine check on a U-Haul trailer that was being towed by a woman.
“The inspector asked the driver to open the trailer. The woman complied and that’s when the inspector heard a muffled ‘meow, meow, meow.’
‘The inspector asked the woman if she knew a cat was in the trailer. The woman said no – and also informed the inspector that she didn’t own a cat.
“The inspection station worker took custody of the cat and later drove him to Riverside County Animal Services’ Blythe shelter. Once there, the dehydrated kitty was examined, scanned for a chip and provided nourishment and water.
“Employees at the Blythe Animal Shelter discovered the cat did have a microchip embedded under its skin – and the presumed owner of the cat was tracked to a South Carolina location.”
“We have handled some pets with crazy back stories, and this is one more for the list,” Animal Services Director Robert Miller said in the release. “The good news is we know the owner, she wants her pet back, and we’ll make that happen.”
The Shelter Transport Animal Rescue Team (S.T.A.R.T. Rescue), the Animal Solutions Konnection (ASK) Foundation and shelter employees have pooled donations to pay for Tiger’s return trip home to Anderson, South Carolina.
Cheryl Walls adopted Kevin from her local shelter in June 2013 and he disappeared that autumn. Cheryl says she tried keeping Tiger as an indoor cat but he seemed unhappy so she took to letting him out. All was fine until that autumn day when he did not return.
“I assumed someone must have picked him up,” Walls told Riverside Animal Services. “Now,” she joked, “He has seen more of the country than me.”
Riverside County is coordinating Tiger’s travel plans. He is expected to fly home Wednesday morning. departing from either Palm Springs International Airport or Ontario International Airport.