It’s always heartbreaking when a pet goes missing, but it’s important not to lose hope — we’ve seen many stories of pets that were found months or even years after they disappeared.
But one recent story is truly unbelievable: a cat reunited with his owners a whopping 12 years after he went missing!
Angelo and Shelley Castellino were devastated after their cat Butters ran away from their San Diego home in 2011.
“Butters was a very adventurous cat, and he liked to go outside a lot, and he had learned how to use the dog door,” Angelo told ABC 7. “And one day, he never returned.”
When Butters didn’t turn up anywhere, they feared a coyote might have gotten to him. Many years passed, and they accepted that he was gone for good.
Cut to 12 years later. On October 1, Riverside County Animal Control Officer Dalton Churchwell saw a cat roaming around his yard in Blythe, California, according to a press release from RCDAS.
He caught the cat and scanned him for a microchip. It turned out the cat had an owner — and had been missing since 2011. It was Butters, still alive and well after all these years.
Dalton contacted the family, who truly couldn’t believe it. “At first, we didn’t pick it up because we thought it was one of these scam calls, but when they called back again, my wife picked up,” Angelo told ABC 7. “He told her they had Butters.”
“I thought it was a prank call because the cat was gone for 12 years, but how did he know our cat’s name?”
But soon, it dawned on them that they weren’t being pranked, and instead had gotten a miracle. “It was just unbelievable,” Angelo said in the press release. “I’m so grateful to Officer Churchwell to have Butters identified. The officer just really went out of his way. You know, he did this on a Sunday night, on his time off.”
The Castellinos were thrilled to be getting their long-lost cat back, but there was one hurdle: in the 12 years since Butters went missing, they relocated to Washington state, far from where the cat was found.
But thankfully, nonprofit organization The ASK Foundation offered to fund a flight to Seattle so Butters could reunite with his family. Longtime RCDAS volunteer Larry Rudolph took the flight with the cat and delivered him to the Castellinos,
“We were thrilled to work with the Department of Animal Services to make this reunion possible,” said ASK Foundation president Carolyn Badger. “It was such a wonderful story and we are very happy to know that Butters is home and safe with his family.”
The story is truly miraculous: Larry Rudolph told ABC 7 that it was “meant to be” that Butters happened to cross paths with a shelter employee: “You’re talking about the area of Blythe, where it’s in the desert, where we have only two employees out there, and the cat decided to jump in his backyard.”
The family says it’s a reminder to always get your pets microchipped, which makes reunions like this possible even more than a decade later. “Our prodigal kitty has come home,” Shelley Castellino said. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to get your kitty cats and your doggies chipped.”
It’s not clear what Butters has been up to all these years, but the important thing is that he’s finally home, reunited with his family and cat brother Barnacles.
What a miracle — we’re so glad Butters is finally home after 12 long years! Please share this amazing news and remember to keep your pets microchipped!