A missing Southern California family’s cat has been found 12 years later and has been reunited with its owners who have since moved all the way to Washington state.
Butters the cat was reported missing out of San Diego in 2011. Last week, Butters was located in Blythe by a Riverside County Animal Control officer.
Animal Control Officer Dalton Churchwell spotted Butters in his backyard on Oct. 1, and was able to catch him and scan him for a microchip.
The chip identified the cat as Butters, the long-lost cat of the Castellino family. Churchwell called the last-known contact information of his owners, who were “ecstatic” to hear about their long-lost cat’s reappearance.
Speaking to Riverside County Animal Services officials, Angelo Castellino said he couldn’t imagine how Butters ended up all the way in Blythe, more than 200 miles from where he was reported missing, but said the cat had a tendency to be “adventurous.”
In the decade-plus since Butters went missing, Angelo and his wife Shelley have left California and now live in Stanwood, Washington. Despite the distance and time apart, they were eager to get Butters back and bring him home and, in the process, reunite him with his brother “Barnacles.”
Blythe and Stanwood are more than 1,300 miles apart, and the logistics of reuniting Butters with his owners was complicated.
When word of the predicament got out, the ASK Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the Department of Animal Services, came forward to pay for transportation to get Butters to his new home with his old family.
The cat was flown from Ontario to Seattle to be reunited with the Castellino family on Oct. 7. Larry Rudolph, a 10-year volunteer with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services was there to make sure the handoff went smoothly.
The Castellinos were grateful for those who made the reunion possible, in particular Officer Churchwell who “really went out of his way” to safely capture Butters and take time out of his day to make sure all avenues were pursued to identify him. “It was just unbelievable,” Angelo Castellino said.
Carolyn Badger, president of the ASK Foundation, said the organization was honored to work with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services to make the reunion a reality.
“It was such a wonderful story and we are very happy to know that Butters is home and safe with his family,” Badger said.
Animal Services officials also credited Animal Samaritans, an animal welfare organization that provides services to animals in the desert community. Animal Samaritans provided a health assessment and gave Butters the necessary all-clear to allow for him to be transported to Washington for his long-awaited reunion.
“The experience is a testament to dedication and teamwork, but also an important reminder to microchip your pet to ensure its return should it become lost,” Animal Services officials said in a news release.
Not only is it important to make sure your pet is chipped, it’s also critical that you keep your contact information updated with the microchip vendor, they added.